Research proposal. Lifecycle Career Management: an investigation towards Integral Awareness Maturity (I AM)

This proposal is part of my PhD work at the Adizes Graduate School. I post it here for the ones who are interested in knowing more about what I am working on.
Comments, suggestions and tips are more then welcome.
I would like to add a Dutch dr. to the research committee. Feel welcome to contact me if you know someone or if you are interested yourself.

1.0 Proposed Title/Sub-title
Lifecycle Career Management:
an investigation into the process and stages of Effective Career Role Taking Decisions during midlife transition, in the 21st century in Western Europe, towards Integral Awareness Maturity (I-AM).

2.0 Purpose of Study
The intention and purpose of this research is to start the development of a lifecycle career change model that supports creating consciousness in order to be able to make mature and aware career choices for effective role taking decisions in the 21st century (from an integral perspectives as individual: the actor and the actor as observer).

The Lifecycle Career Management model is intended to describe the process of growing awareness (Kegan, 1994b) and maturity throughout the socialization process that is part of the process of effective Career Role Taking for people in midlife transition.

“Maturity” in the context of the Lifecycle Career Management model is studied from two perspectives (Hogan & Roberts, 2004, p. 207): how people feel about themselves (the actor) and what they think and believe to know how others feel about them (the observers).

It is the intent of this study to define the variables of integral awareness and maturity in order to be able to start, as a follow up of this research, with the design of a Lifecycle Career Management model that clarifies the process and the different stages of the Career Lifecycle (Austrian, 2008; Erikson & Coles, 2001; Erikson & Erikson, 1998; Levinson, 1978, 1986; Super, 1980) throughout a person’s lifecycle.

The clarification is intended to lead towards a Lifecycle Career Management model that supports the integral process of conscious role taking with regard to career choices by separating the different aspects of the I and Me (Buber, 1970; Daniels, 2005, p. 91) both from the perspective of the actor and the observer (Beck & Cowan, 1996; Bohm, 1994, p. 237; Hogan & Roberts, 2004, p. 207).

The model is intended to be focused on Human Resources Development from a multidisciplinary perspective: sociological, psychological, educational, philosophical business and systems science perspective, on lifecycle and evolutionary career management (Adizes, 2004; Beck & Cowan, 1996; Cowan & Todorovic, 2005), in order to support the process of making aware (Kegan, 1994a; Kegan & Lahey, 2009; Wilber, 2006; Wilber, Engler, & Brown, 1986) and mature (Hogan & Roberts, 2004; Mead, 1903) effective Career Role Taking decisions (Hamilton, 1992; Mead, 1903).

Different lifecycle stages are found (Erikson & Coles, 2001; Levinson, 1978, 1986) to have different essential themes (Super, 1980) and therefore each lifecycle stage may require the need to address different key career questions. This research focuses on the Midlife transition stage from the Era of Early Adulthood towards Middle Adulthood (Levinson, 1986, p. 8). Each career lifecycle stage is expected to have different universal needs as described by Austrian (2008, p. 5).

If Adizes’ thinking (2004) of the existence of normal, abnormal and pathological problems (pp. 10-12) in a lifecycle is followed, answers might be found related to the normal, abnormal and may be pathological problems which we might expect to surface in a person’s lifecycle career at different identifiable stages.

The career lifecycle model is intended to support both a facilitated use of the model as well as a self-reflective use for individual development questions.

This research will attempt to clarify how both awareness and maturity have a (different equivalent and or interrelated) influence on a person’s self-consciousness and individual development in midlife transition. Shown by their ability to make effective career role taking decisions from an integral perspective, being able to prevent making role taking mistakes and or quickly being able to deal with those mistakes in case they anyhow do take place.

The Lifecycle Career Management model is intended to support consultants in the career management profession to be able to improve the support of their clients in their quest for making effective career choices in life. The understanding from the career stages is expected to support the facilitation and coaching for the path each person walks towards a good ‘Perfect Temporary Career Fit’.

Where career transitions occur the model is expected to facilitate effective Integral Awareness Maturity (I-AM) choices, recognizing the normal and abnormal or even pathological individual problems as they may exist and can be recognized as part of one’s Lifecycle Career.

Core functional theory supporting the model

Role taking
Role taking as Mead defined it has two components. “First, it involves thinking about oneself from the perspective of others. Second, it involves regulating one’s behavior based on what one thinks others expect” (Mead, 1903). Interaction among humans is possible by the virtue of their role taking abilities. It is the nature and scope of society, as Mead argued, a dual function of the number of specific others and the abstractness of the “generalized others”, or “generalized perspectives”, with whom and with which individuals can role take (Hamilton, 1992, p. 144).

Mead (1903) defined maturity as the ability to make the distinction between the actor’s and the observer’s view. First, it involves thinking about oneself from the perspective of others. Second, it involves regulating one’s behavior based on what one thinks others expect (pp. 104-105). It may be clear that a distinct level of awareness (1994a) is needed in order to be able to make mature choices. Both levels of awareness and maturity are expected to change throughout a person’s individual lifecycle.

Individual lifecycle
Levinson (Levinson, 1986, p. 7) recognizes different stages as part of the Era of Early Adulthood of which this study will focus on the “Midlife Transition” as “one of the great cross-era shifts, serving both the terminate early adulthood and to initiate the middle adulthood”. This research will focus on his Era’s phase 5, since it is the phase of forming relationships with others as an adult in the adult world, the transition from Early Adulthood towards Middle Adulthood, the midlife transition phase right after the transition from settling down. One “can no longer give so much energy to reappraising the past and reintegrating the polarities”. “The main tasks now are to make crucial choices, give these choices meaning and commitment, and build a life structure around them” (Levinson, 1978, p. 278).

According to the Eriksons (1998) each step of the stages of development is “grounded in all the previous ones; while in each development maturation (and psychosocial crisis) of one virtue gives new connotations to all already developed stages as well as to the higher and still developing ones”(p. 59).

This study assumes that integral (I-Me, actor-observer) consciousness increases through the acceptance of change and ambiguity as part of life (Hegel, 1965, 1977). “At the same time the acceptance of change and ambiguity as part of everyday life is expected to increase (integral) consciousness (Kegan & Lahey, 2009) as it drives development and innovation (LaRue, Childs, Larson, & Ivany, 2006, p. 132)”. Together they form a reinforcing loop (Senge, Kleiner, Roberts, Ross, & Smith, 1994, p. 116), a key element for strategically improving the well being (Bohm, 1994, 2006; Earley, 2002; Kegan, 1994b) of human systems.

Dealing with change
According to Adizes (2004) “every problem or opportunity introduced by change generates a solution, which causes more change, and we face a new reality and a new set of problems or opportunities” (p. 3). “Change is life and as long as we are alive, we will have problems” (p. 4). “If one wants to stay alive, then better learn to manage and lead change. The purpose is how to accelerate finding and implementing the right solutions with a minimum of stress” (p. 7) and to develop proactive preparatory strategies for evolution throughout the lifecycle on an optimal path (pp. 13, 379).

Adizes’ organizational Lifecycle studies (2004) taught us what problems to expect in each organizational life cycle stage. “We will deal with them promptly because rather than being unexpected crisis, they now can be events for which we have planned and are prepared” (p. 8). “Growing up does not mean getting past all problems. Growing up means being able to handle bigger and more complex problems”(p. 6).

Potential abnormal problems will be taken into account for the aspects of ‘awareness’ and ‘maturity’, while looking at effective role taking decisions during the midlife lifecycle stage.

The objective is to contribute to the overall improvement of the individual change management methodology from an integral perspective, as well as to the understanding of the dynamics of human consciousness in practice.

Additionally the model is intended to support the process of role taking for management and leadership teams in times of change. With that it is hoped to become an effective instrument for human resources to be(come) better equipped to support the continuous role taking processes.

The hope is also that through the understanding of the underlying development process of the career lifecycle model, training in this process can start early on in life and people’s levels of consciousness and maturity might grow and expand beyond our current understanding for as role taking is not only relevant in the business context, it is something people continuously do while being in contact with others.

It is anticipated that this Lifecycle Career Management model may be used as a generalized change management model for the process of self directed transformation in light of a growing consciousness from an integral perspective in order to be able to deal with the globalization and ever growing complexities of life.

3.0 Proposed Research Question
Does awareness and maturity impact effective role taking decisions of professionals during midlife transition in Western Europe?

How does awareness and maturity impact effective role taking decisions of professionals during midlife transition in Western Europe?
1. What is the impact of awareness on role taking decisions from a multidisciplinary perspective?
2. What is the impact of maturity on role taking decisions from a multidisciplinary perspective?

What normal, abnormal and pathological problems need to be overcome in the midlife transition stage from a multidisciplinary perspective?
1. Are there universal problems recognized across the disciplines as part of midlife transition?
2. What are the differences in perspective? Are there specific abnormal or pathological problems that can be recognized during midlife transition?
3. Is there a major male-female difference?

What is needed for an individual in Midlife transition in order to be able to make effective role taking decisions?
1. Does awareness and maturity impact this stage of the life cycle relative to making effective career role taking decisions? If so, how?
2. What is needed in order to support the process of objectified self-awareness from both perspectives: the actor as well as the observer?
2a. What commonly used instruments and/or tools could support this process?
2b. What would be the requirements for a self-assessment instrument supporting self-awareness is this context?

Over 2bcoaching, Trudy van den Berg

TRUDY ZEGT: "Als coach heb ik de leukste baan die er voor mij is omdat ik ervan geniet om anderen en mezelf te ondersteunen op hun ontwikkel-pad. Ieder heeft zijn eigen waarheid en die probeer ik te begrijpen en respecteren voor zover ik dat kan. Daarbij is respect van alle voors en tegens zoals die er op verschillende momenten zijn voor mij essentieel. Uit eigen ervaring weet ik hoe lastig keuzes maken kan zijn."
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