Mixed method study of the career lines of chief financial officers (CFOs) in academic medical centers
Hooten, Michael E.
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the meaning of a career as a chief financial officer (CFO) in an academic medical center. The mixed method, two phase model used a survey for the quantitative portion and semi-structured interviews for the qualitative portion. The research design followed the examples of Creswell (1998) and Van Manen (1990). The quantitative data provided descriptive statistics. The qualitative portion used phenomenological methods to analyze the data. Career mobility is typically observed and reported as a hierarchical progression within a labor market. This research utilized three theoretical concepts to frame the study of career mobility as a career line. They were the concepts of phenomenology, critical incidents, and professional relationships. The central question of the study was what essential experiences, critical incidents, and professional relationships occurred along the career line of a chief financial officer. The survey consisted of 21 questions and was used to identify a criterion sample for an interview. The interview contained eight open ended questions that allowed for probing questions. Four themes emerged, they were career, critical incidents, professional relationships and professional associations. The findings indicated that career was a lived experience that was shaped by challenge and opportunity and influenced by mentors and sponsors. The study gave meaning to the aspect that career was not confined to entering a labor market and moving vertically in a sequence of positions. An individual may have a profession, but a career is composed of a combination of meaningful events.