UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The experience of career for people who have moved into supervisory and management role in a social service organization Stevens, Alison Mary


This phenomenological study looked at the lived career experience of seasoned supervisors and managers in social service organizations. Research indicates that career choices are generally imbedded in skills, abilities, interests and values. For those who work in the human service field, altruism frequently is among personal values that prompt such a career choice. While altruism, action that is motivated by a desire to benefit another even at a cost to oneself, may contribute to one’s work, other motivations such as a desire for career success also drive one’s behaviour in the work place. The emphasis in this study was on how supervisors and managers in social service organizations make meaning of their experience over time in their work environment, an environment experienced by many as stressful. Through qualitative, phenomenological interviews with 8 supervisors and managers in social service organizations, the researcher explored how participants describe their values, beliefs and motivation in their work, how they experience their work environment, how they make meaning of their experience and how their values, beliefs and motivation have been impacted by the environment in the immediate and over time. Findings suggest that people move through career in a holistic, manner and that values, beliefs and motivation are integrated both longitudinally and across their experience in the present. Career is experienced as imbedded in their broader life experience with the work environment providing opportunity to enact one’s values and beliefs. Motivation is sustained and balance in work is maintained through an ongoing process of weighing the positives in the work environment against the negatives. For those who experience the work environment as stressful, being part of a supportive organization that holds values and beliefs that are congruent with one’s own can provide a buffer from the negative impact of the broader environment.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.