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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29690

Title: Redirection: Using Career Development Theory to Interpret the Volunteer Activities of Retirees
Authors: Cook, Suzanne L.
Advisor: Quarter, Jack
Department: Adult Education and Counselling Psychology
Keywords: volunteers
older adults
lifelong learning
Donald Super
Life-Span Life-Space Theory of Career Development
career self-concept
aging population
mixed methods
case study
baby boomers
life course perspective
volunteer management
formal volunteering
nonprofit organizations
dimensions of learning
adult development
life satisfaction
professional knowledge
social role
psychological adjustment
life stages
Issue Date: 30-Aug-2011
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to examine formal volunteering among retirees in order to explore whether their volunteer experiences represent an extension of their career in the paid workforce or whether their volunteer activities represent a completely new direction, and how this influences their career self-concept, as interpreted through Donald Super’s life-span, life-space theory of career development. This study employed a developmental mixed-method design. In Phase 1, qualitative interviews were conducted with 12 participants to better understand retirees’ volunteer experiences. Phase 1 informed the design of an instrument for the Phase 2 survey which examined the issues among a larger sample of 214 retirees. The Phase 2 results supported the Phase 1 findings and indicated that many retirees sought an extension of career in volunteer activities in that they used similar skills and knowledge. Study participants also displayed a desire for lifelong learning. Retirees relinquished their paid-work career, took on the retiree and volunteer roles, and integrated these roles within their career self-concept to create a new sense of self. These results indicated that the retirees had entered a new stage of life, qualitatively different from ‘retirement’. To better reflect the experiences of these retirees, it was proposed that Donald Super’s life-span, life-space theory of career development be extended to include Redirection. This theorizing is consistent with the finding that retirees both wanted to and are able to integrate previous paid work elements as well as seek out lifelong learning opportunities within their volunteer activities. This study demonstrates that the volunteer role in the lives of retirees can lead to personal renewal and reshaping of the career self-concept, or what is labeled as the stage of Redirection. This study also has implications for volunteer management, retirement planning and social policy, and may be of interest to volunteer managers, nonprofit organizations, career counsellors, financial planners, retirement planning consultants, life coaches and policy planners.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/29690
Appears in Collections:Doctoral

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