Original Research

An investigation of career change using a narrative and story-telling inquiry

Willie T. Chinyamurindi
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 10, No 2 | a447 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v10i2.447 | © 2012 Willie T. Chinyamurindi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 17 November 2011 | Published: 05 December 2012

About the author(s)

Willie T. Chinyamurindi, Department of Management, Open University Business School, United Kingdom


Orientation: The role of the career change experience has been investigated in this research. Understanding career change will assist with organisational interventions for the support and retention of employees.

Research purpose: The study explores the factors that influence career change amongst a sample of distance learners.

Motivation for the study: Distance learning is becoming popular in South Africa as individuals can work and learn simultaneously. Some people use distance learning to facilitate career change.

Research design, approach and method: A narrative and storytelling inquiry was used. Data was obtained through unstructured interviews by purposive sampling.

Main findings: Sources of career change included personal growth and ambition, and structural changes in relation to current work. The career change experience was found through participants’ stories and narratives to influence individual well-being. Finally, distance learning was favoured as a vehicle for career change for its flexibility and low cost.

Practical/managerial implications: Organisations will benefit from an understanding of employee career change experiences as identified in this study. Arising from this, support and retention interventions can be put in place.

Contribution/value-add: The research study shifts attention to career change as part of the career decision-making process. This focus is an emerging area of inquiry in the careers literature. This adds to the body of knowledge by identifying, in a South African context, the factors influencing career change and the impact of this on the individual. Interventions for individuals and organisations are suggested.


careers; distance learning; narratives; previously disadvantaged; South Africa


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