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3. Management in Career Development Services


In this section, lets start by thinking about whether management in career development services is distinct and different from management in other context, or management in general.

One particular feature is that we are managing a service that is offered to, and accessed by individuals. This means that all users are potentially making sense of our services in differing ways.

A further feature is that we are working with a process (career development) that is understood in different ways. These understandings, or theories, have led to different practices being developed. To consider this further, it is worth looking at different clusters of theory, the services that these might suggest and the implications for management.

In his text 'Understanding Careers: the metaphors of working lives', Kerr Inkson takes a series of metaphors for career as a way of pulling together theoretical perspectices.


Scroll through the powerpoint summarising Inkson's metphors. Note my comments on the implications for service delivery, and jot down any thoughts you have on the management of such services. Share your ideas on the forum.career_metaphors_and_service_management.jpg

Powerpoint summarising Inkson's metaphors

Another important benefit of beginning with career development theories is that it reminds us that all our stakeholders (clients, parents, staff, institutional managers, academics) will have their own 'personal career theory' which they bring to bear on career development and employability.

These theories may be tacit, or may be well understood by the individual. In addition, Agyris and Schon (1978) highlight the distinction between 'espoused theory', and 'theories in use' and this can often be in evidence in discussions of career development and employability services.


Managing Employability

Bob Gilworth gave a presentation at the AGCAS residential based on his DBA thesis about models of managing employability. This research was also discussed in a Phoenix article on career service structures and delivery models:

Frigerio, G. (2014) AGCAS's next top model? in Phoenix, October 2014. AGCAS: Sheffield

To go further into the theoretical concepts behind graduate employability, an article by Michael Tomlinson has been provided in your reading packs.

Tomlinson, M. (2012) 'Graduate Employability: A review of Conceptual and Empirical Themes'. Higher Education Policy 25: 407-431


Argyris, C. and Schon, D. (1978) 'Organizational learning : a theory of action perspective', Reading, Mass; London: Addison-Wesley

Inkson, K. (2007) 'Understanding Careers: the metaphors of working lives' , Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Further reading

Butler, T., Dane, M., (eds.), (2007), Reflections on Change 1967-2007, Sheffield, AGCAS.

Clark, B (2004) Sustaining Change in Universities, London: Open University Press.