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The nature and development of liminality competence: Narratives from mobile project workers
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Business Administration. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
BI Norwegian Business School, Norway.
2014 (English)Conference paper, Presentation (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Purpose: This paper describes and analyzes the nature and development of liminality competence among mobile project workers. It draws on an interpretative approach documenting how mobile project workers develop their conceptions of work performed in liminal (in-between) positions. The overall aim is to extend the knowledge on how people in time-limited and ambiguous work positions develop competencies to address their specific work conditions.

Design: This research relies on two in-depth narratives of mobile project workers drawn from a larger longitudinal study. The data include diaries and interviews. The study seeks to identify similarities and differences in the development of liminality competence over time.

Findings: Three processes were identified as important in developing higher liminality competence: (1) understanding the value of in-betweenness, (2) understanding the role of the liminar as different and (3) translating liminal experience through reflexivity. The paper generally demonstrates the importance of context and critical events in progressing through these three processes.

Practical implications: The paper demonstrates the need for employers to support individuals in passing through the three identified processes and to support thoughtful mobility across different project settings.

Originality/value: In the dual ambition of offering insights based on interpretative research on competence and putting greater emphasis on people working in in-between positions, this study enhances the understanding of how individuals develop their conceptions of work in general and their conceptions of liminality at work in particular.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Liminality, liminality competence, competence development, consultant, engineer, project work
National Category
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-105478OAI: diva2:707617
EURAM 2012. 12th Conference on Social Innovation for Competitiveness Organisational Performance and Human Excellence, 6th-8th June, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Available from: 2014-03-25 Created: 2014-03-25 Last updated: 2014-03-25Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Liminality at Work: Mobile Project Workers In-Between
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Liminality at Work: Mobile Project Workers In-Between
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This doctoral thesis addresses how mobile project workers; technical consultants working in projects, experience and deal with project-based work. The thesis consists of a compilation of five papers and an extended summary. It is based on three qualitative studies including methods like interviews, diaries, and observations. The thesis adopts and develops the conceptual lens of liminality.

The results of this thesis show that mobile project workers use four different practices to deal with liminality at work. Furthermore, the thesis develops the framework of “liminality competence,” indicating that some mobile project workers are better at utilizing their liminal positions than others. The thesis also studies how liminality competence is developed and how formal training programs influence the liminal position for mobile project workers.

Abstract [sv]

I denna avhandling studeras hur mobila projektarbetare, i detta fall teknikkonsulter som utför arbete i kundprojekt, upplever och hanterar projektbaserat arbete. Avhandlingen presenterar tre kvalitativa studier som bygger på intervjuer, dagboksanteckningar och deltagande observationer. Avhandlingen består av fem artiklar och en kappa. För denna studie används begreppet liminalitet som fångar den mobilitet och organisatoriska tvetydighet som föreligger i mobila projektarbetares arbetssituation.

Avhandlingen utvecklar liminalitetsbegreppet ytterligare relaterat till liminella positioner i arbetslivet. Analysen identifierar fyra liminalitetspraktiker som mobila projektarbetare använder för att hantera sin arbetssituation. Dessutom utvecklas begreppet liminalitetskompetens. Detta begrepp används för att förstå hur mobila projektarbetare hanterar sin liminella arbetssituation och vilka skillnader som finns vad gäller förmågan att hantera liminalitet i arbetet. Avhandlingen undersöker också hur sådan kompetens utvecklas och hur formella lärandeprogram kan påverka liminalitetssituationen och liminalitetskompetensen hos mobila projektmedarbetare.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2014. 100 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 614
Mobile project workers, liminality, project-based work, contingent workers, liminality practices, liminality competence, Mobila projektarbetare, liminalitet, projektbaserat arbete, konsulter, liminalitetspraktiker, liminalitetskompetens
National Category
Business Administration
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-105481 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-105481 (DOI)978-91-7519-364-9 (print) (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-03-25, C3, Hus C, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2014-03-25 Created: 2014-03-25 Last updated: 2015-09-22Bibliographically approved

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