Responsible careers: systemic reflexivity in shifting landscapes

Svenja Tams, J Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (SciVal)
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This article examines responsible careers, in which people seek to have an impact on societal challenges such as environmental sustainability and social justice. We propose a dynamic model of responsible careers based on studying 32 individuals in the emerging organizational fields of corporate responsibility, social entrepreneurship, sustainability, and social investing. We describe six career practices - expressing self, connecting to others, constructing contribution, institutionalizing, field shaping, and engaging systemically. Observations suggest that development of these practices is influenced by four learning dynamics: people's perceptions of 'shifting landscapes' in which they seek to orient themselves, exploration and both biographical and systemic reflexivity. Our interdisciplinary and empirically grounded approach, integrating psychological intentions and institutional context, strengthens theorizing about responsible careers. The proposed model depicts responsible careers as continually evolving, sometimes precarious, and as dynamically enacted in relation to pluralist, shifting landscapes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-131
Number of pages23
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number1
Early online date10 Nov 2010
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2011


  • sustainability
  • not-for-profit organizations
  • reflexivity
  • responsibility
  • charities
  • social change
  • learning
  • interdisciplinary
  • business in society
  • careers


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