‘The Path with the Heart’: Creating the Authentic Career*
Journal of Management Studies, 2005, vol. 42, issue 5, 947-974
abstract This study contributes to the stream of boundaryless career research by detailing a theory of authenticity‐driven career creation. The perspective developed here is grounded in an in‐depth case study of the trajectory of a creative individual who has followed a very personal career path, remaining true to his creative calling. With authenticity work I denote the set of actions and interactions, which the creative individual undertakes to achieve a distinctive and true‐to‐self identity and image over time and across audiences. The study reveals that authenticity work is in the duality of identity expression and image manufacturing. Furthermore, it has some elements that are consistent over time and others that keep changing. I identify four stages through which authenticity plays a role in career creation: exploring aspects of multifaceted identity and image; narrowing down and focusing the identity expression and image manufacturing; enhancing one's control over the creative and business aspects of the artwork, and finally, a quest for professionalism. These stages are labelled exploration, focus, independence, and professionalism, respectively. They are embedded in a structural context that enables and constrains authenticity work. The resolution of the constraints by the creative individuals pushes their careers forward.
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