Career Decision-making by Business School Students: A British Case Study

Paul Greenbank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review


The need to develop the employability of students is becoming increasingly important to universities. This is because the failure of students to engage effectively in career decision-making is likely to have a detrimental effect on their ability to compete in the graduate labour market. This paper comprises of two case studies which are illustrative of how undergraduates in a Business School approach career decision-making and preparing for the transition from education to employment. Interviews were initially carried out with 34 first year students studying honours degrees in business and business related subjects. Twenty-one of these students were then re-interviewed in their final year. The two cases were selected because they demonstrate how well motivated and academically high performing students may not necessarily be adequately prepared for the transition from higher education to graduate employment. A case study approach enabled the complex range of factors influencing the way undergraduates approach career decision-making and developing their employability to be analysed in depth. The case studies illustrate how the students, despite being encouraged on their degree programmes to adopt comprehensive and rational approaches to decision-making, often preferred to use intuition and logic. The students also lacked a future orientation which meant they focused on their immediate futures rather than longer term goals such as developing their employability. Moreover, even by their final year of study, the students did not have clear career objectives. The paper concludes that Business Schools should give more sustained attention to graduate employability and a greater focus needs to be paid to encouraging students to critically evaluate the values that underpin their approach to decision-making and career preparation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-553
JournalInternational Journal of Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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