UCL School of Management

Research seminar

The Identity Dynamics of Career Trade-Offs


Otilia Obodaru, Rice University


Wednesday, 19 June 2013

I will present two qualitative studies that generated a theoretical model of the identity dynamics of career trade-offs (ie pursuing one’s passion versus a lucrative career, focusing on helping others versus one’s self-interest, pursuing an adventurous path versus a conventional one, and focusing on work versus family).

Giving up a career path meant that the associated self would be suppressed, which generated psychological distress: Participants saw themselves as both passionate and pragmatic, or both altruistic and self-interested, or both adventurous and conventional, or both work-oriented and family-oriented, yet their career trajectories only allowed them to fully enact one side of themselves, leaving them to feel incomplete and out of balance.

Five strategies allowed participants to alleviate this distress by preserving the suppressed self in their self-concept: enacting the suppressed self through job crafting or leisure crafting, forming an alternative self or a desired possible self around it, and experiencing it vicariously through relationships with people who embody it. I will discuss the implications of this model for research on career trade-offs and identity.

Open to
PhD Programme
Last updated Wednesday, 16 December 2015