Career stages matter
: creating a model of the individual engagement experience at work. A case of engagement in the Dutch Healthcare sector.

  • Sjoukje Gezina Ruth Hekman

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis explores the individual engagement experience at work, what influences this experience and how employees at different career stages experience engagement. This research draws on theories of personal engagement, career stages and structured antagonism. The aim is to expand our understanding of how engagement is experienced and influenced in order to build a conceptual model of the individual engagement experience. The research comprises an indepth case study within a Dutch hospital consisting of thirty in-depth interviews with nurses, supported by four weeks of observations, and an analysis of organisational documents. Based on the findings, a conceptual model was developed capturing the complexity of engagement and acknowledging its fluctuating and contextual nature. The research shows that the individual engagement experience consists of three layers: job; departmental, and organisational engagement. These three layers are influenced by four different resources and hindrances: task; personal; relational, and organisational. This model is applied to four different career stages: exploratory; early advancement, late advancement, and maintenance career stage. The application of the model to the different career stages indicates that individuals within different career stages experience engagement differently, influenced by different resources and hindrances. For employees in the early career stages, the engagement experience is affected by job related influences as well as career progression and self-development. Whereas in the later career stages, mentoring as well as outside work life influences affect the engagement experience. I incorporate structured antagonism theory which recognises unequal power relationships and unaligned interests between employee and employer. In incorporating this stance, I discuss how power influences the employee’s engagement experience. Within the engagement experience, I identify how employees have the need to receive engagement from the management of their organisation, in a way that makes the employees feel incorporated, valued and seen. If this engagement is not reciprocated, this can result in a negative effect on the engagement experience as well as different hindrances such as increased work pressure or intensified hindrances relating to organisational processes.
Date of Award19 Nov 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Roehampton
SponsorsUniversity of Roehampton Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship
SupervisorSunitha Narendran (Director of Studies), Carole Elliott (Co-Supervisor) & Mayra Ruiz Castro (Co-Supervisor)


  • employee engagement
  • management engagement reciprocity
  • personal engagement
  • career stages
  • power
  • Netherlands
  • healthcare industry

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