Fictional narratives at work: How stories shape career identity, future work selves and moral development

I.M. Brokerhof

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisThesis 3: defended at external organisation, OU employee


Human beings are storytellers. People listen, read, watch, and create narratives on a daily basis. This PhD dissertation explores the relationship between people’s fictional narrative experiences – for example reading a novel, or watching a movie - and their personal development in the context of work. While being absorbed into a story world and seeing that world through the eyes of a character, people could explore different careers, work selves and moral perspectives. Consequently, fictional narratives could encourage people to reflect on their identity, on who they currently are; stimulate people to think about who they aspire to become in the future; and, ultimately, inspire people to reflect on what type of person they think they ought to be, by reflecting on their moral character. Narrative templates in novels, movies and television series
could thereby offer people inspiration for the construction of their own personal career narrative. Due to the novelty of the current research topic, the research approach of this dissertation is diverse, using various research designs (qualitative, quantitative, retrospective, and experimental) with several methodological approaches, and a variety of participant samples. The findings shed new light on the way books, short stories, movies and television series can influence people’s career identity, future work selves and moral development in the
context of work.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Bal, Matthijs, Supervisor, External person
  • Jansen, Paul , Supervisor, External person
  • Solinger, Omar, Supervisor, External person
Thesis sponsors
Award date16 Sept 2020
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
Print ISBNs9789036106610
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


  • Fictional narratives
  • stories
  • future work selves
  • Career identity
  • moral development
  • moral muscle
  • PhD Thesis
  • organisational psychology
  • leadership
  • sustainable employability
  • dialogical self theory
  • narrative research


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