Improving the process of career decision making: an action research approach

Paul Greenbank

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

13 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract: Purpose – This study adopts an action research approach with the aim of improving the process of career decision making among undergraduates in a business school at a “new” university in the UK. Design/methodology/approach – The study utilised unfreezing techniques, multiple case studies in conjunction with the principle of analogical encoding, and lecture input to influence the values underpinning the way students intend to engage in the process of career decision making. The paper draws on evidence collected over three cycles of an action research project and from different data sources, i.e. questionnaires, interviews and observations. Findings – The study found that students from working class and middle class backgrounds exhibited similar types of career decision making behaviour. The students tended not to have a future orientation; they relied on informally absorbed information and their intuition rather than rational approaches to decision making; and they demonstrated an unwillingness to be instrumental and operate as “players”. The series of interventions (i.e. the unfreezing exercise, the case studies and the lecture input) resulted in shifts in attitude to career decision making and preparation, particularly for those students who engaged in all three stages of the intervention The unfreezing exercise was seen as particularly important in encouraging students to critically reflect on their career decision making. Originality/value – This research provides new insights into the factors influencing the way undergraduates approach career decision making. It also provides suggestions for encouraging students to critically reflect on how they make career decisions and prepare for the transition to the graduate labour market.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-266
JournalEducation and Training
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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