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Working Identity


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Herminia Ibarra is Professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France.


Ibarra (Making Partner; Principles of Effective Persuasion) makes an important contribution to the career development genre with her intriguing view that "we harbor a whole cast of `possible selves' we might become, and it is by continuously testing these possible futures, not by examining our past, that we learn what and who we want to be." Rather than taking a conventional approach to helping readers find a job they like, she instead lays out a straightforward framework that describes what is really involved in career transitioning and what makes the difference between staying stuck and moving on. Targetting mid-career professionals who have invested a lot of time and money in a career but also know they want something entirely different, she shares results of research with 23 professionals who successfully changed their career. The material is structured around trying out new activities on a small scale, developing new contacts, finding or creating catalysts and triggers for change, and using these tools to rework one's identity. The personal case stories, including a psychiatrist who became a Buddhist monk, provide a pragmatic link to this high-concept material. Ibarra's work nicely supplements Edgar H. Schein's Career Anchors and is recommended for academic and larger public libraries.-Dale Farris, Groves, TX Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Aimed at mid-career professionals who have invested much in careers that may no longer fully satisfy, Ibarra's book challenges the traditional belief that a meticulous assessment of one's skills and interests will automatically lead one to discover the right job. In reality, she argues, "doing comes first, knowing second." This is not to say that a marketing director should abruptly resign to become a modern dancer; instead, defining the arc of the future is a "never-ending process of putting ourselves through a set of knowable steps that creates and reveals our possible selves." Most people will navigate a career shift at some point in their lives, and in this smart, positive guide, organizational behavior professor Ibarra shares the stories of 23 people who did it successfully. It's no 10-point plan for figuring it all out, Ibarra says, but rather a well-reasoned guide to making the decision of whether or not to stay in a career or move on. Readers who study the stories and their accompanying analyses will take away some valuable lessons on changing their way of thinking and being, going out on a limb, and building in a much-needed "transition period" during a career shift. (Jan. 10) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

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