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PhD holders entering non-academic workplaces: organisational culture shock

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/06/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>Studies in Higher Education
Issue number6
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)1271-1283
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date20/01/21
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper addresses the subjective experiences of PhD holders from Switzerland and the UK who pursue careers beyond academia. Drawing on the concepts of organisational culture and culture shock, we examined the challenges that characterise this passage from academia to non-academic workplaces. With an exploratory aim, we analysed 32 semi-structured interviews conducted with PhDs engaged in non-academic careers in private, public, or parapublic sectors for ten years or less. It emerged that, when they entered non-academic workplaces, half of our participants devoted a large portion of their time and energy to understanding a new organisational culture, including their workplaces’ daily functioning, the values shared within their organisations, and the statuses to which they were assigned. This puzzling experience, which we define as organisational culture shock, was reported more frequently by those who entered non-academic workplaces directly after the PhD and those with little or no work experiences prior to the PhD. These findings contribute to the ongoing global conversation about how to prepare PhDs for careers beyond academia. © 2021 Society for Research into Higher Education.