Humanitarian aid workers' transition into retirement: A narrative inquiry

Berrow, Georgina (2016) Humanitarian aid workers' transition into retirement: A narrative inquiry. Other thesis, Middlesex University.


In this research, I have explored the retirement experience of 6 humanitarians who had retired from a humanitarian organization after a career characterised by frequent, global relocation and the need to live and work in physically and emotionally challenging conditions. I used a narrative methodology which viewed their written stories and conversations with me as situated in specific organizational, social and cultural contexts. I have also identified themes which arose in their narrative in the three areas of enquiry which has framed this research: finding meaning and identity in retirement, the importance of relationships in retirement and dealing with existential questions. The issue was becoming more relevant to the organization because of changes in the mandatory retirement age which are currently being implemented and the implications of this for individuals themselves, their decision making and the options for providing organizational support in the years prior to a later retirement. Each of the retiree’s stories was as unique as the person who wrote it but nevertheless interesting conclusions were drawn which may be relevant for others: the inner, emotional journey of retirement can be as important and eventful as the exterior, practical journey. This group of men and women may be on the vanguard of globalization in that they assimilate at a deep level into their identities the idea of global citizenship during retirement. The organizational career management of humanitarians towards the end of their careers needs to reflect to a greater extent the challenges they have faced during their careers and those they will continue to face in retirement.

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