2017-Claire Collins

Transitions From Expert Practitioner To Apprentice Scholar: The Journey Through Liminality

Prof Claire Collins, Henley Business School, University of Reading

Abstract: This study will explore identity transitions experienced by participants on a professional doctoral programme (DBA).  Both researchers are fully engaged with management and supervision of a DBA programme and bring experience and understanding of the domain.

Those joining a DBA programme are typically senior practitioners in the private, public or third sectors.  They embark on a journey towards becoming an apprentice researcher and engaged scholar (Van de Ven, 2007).  Using a conceptual model developed by the researchers, the stages of identity transition will be explored in order to develop a better understanding of the process involved and how the design of DBA programme can be used to enable these changes. The study will draw on the literature on liminality to illustrate the ‘betwixt and between’ states (Turner 1967 in Beech 2011 p286) being experienced in the process of achieving a changed identity.

Using a qualitative methodology, the research will follow 10 students over a 15 month period, taking a longitudinal approach that draws on narratives, stories and symbolic representations of the individuals at key stages in the developmental process.

The contribution of this study will be; to inform the design of the DBA as a Postgraduate Research degree to create a more effective learning environment; to provide supervisors with a deeper understanding of their students’ changes of state and how to support them in their progress; and for current and potential DBA students to surface their understanding of self-concept and engage in reflexive practice to manage identity transitions.