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Phd careers beyond the traditional: integrating individual and structural factors for a richer account

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/10/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>European Journal of Higher Education
Issue number4
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)365-385
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date11/01/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English


More than half of PhD graduates work outside academia. Yet we know little of the nature of their post-PhD careers and the conditions influencing them. Further, research to date tends to focus on either individual factors (e.g., graduate perceptions of PhD skills used) or structural factors (e.g., organizational interest in hiring PhDs). Few studies examine the intersection between individual and structural factors that actually influences career trajectories. Thus, this study was an exploratory examination of UK and Swiss non-traditional PhD careers in which we conceptually and empirically linked structural factors to individual experiences. The results provide a richer, more nuanced picture of PhD career trajectories, showing, for instance, how structural factors like distinct national economic climate and employment patterns intersected with individual factors like job-seeking strategies and job selection. The study’s originality lies in a narrative cross-case approach that merged empirical evidence from interviews with secondary data. We conclude by assessing the value of using such an integrative framework as well as suggesting areas for future research. © 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.