Research Summary

Everyday Work Life and Career Transitions

by Teresa M. Amabile


My current major research program is a broad study of people’s everyday experiences, including involvement in creative activity and intergenerational collaboration at work, and how those experiences impact their attitudes toward and adjustment to career transitions. Our main focus is on the transition to retirement and the extent to which individuals identify with their work or profession. The purpose is to discover how people think and feel about their work experiences across the lifespan, and what determines successful adjustment to retirement. Our data collection methods are primarily qualitative, including surveys, daily diaries, and extensive semi-structured interviews. Our plan is to include people from 2-3 companies in the study; we are currently collecting data in one company and will begin data collection in a second soon. We are sampling 15-20 people in four broad groups in each company: (a) employees in the first 5-10 years of their careers; (b) employees in the last 5-10 years of their careers; (c) employees with a planned retirement date in the coming 12 months (who will be interviewed several times as they approach and move through the retirement transition); and (d) retirees of those companies, who retired in the past 5-10 years. I expect data collection to continue through 2016 and possibly beyond. As an adjunct to the inductive qualitative study, I am collaborating on a series of experiments on intergenerational collaboration with doctoral student Hayley Blunden.