Date of Submission


Document Type



Doctor of Education




doctoral students, career preparation, career engagement, adaptive leadership, Kotter’s Eight-Stage Model of Organizational Change, Duck’s Five-Stage Change Curve


This Organizational Improvement Plan (OIP) examines the issue of institutional support for doctoral students in preparing for careers inside and outside the academy. While discussions about the purpose of the doctorate are not new, the conversation about preparing PhDs for diverse careers is an emergent one, occupying space inside and outside academic circles. At the heart of the conversation is a debate about the purpose of the doctorate and the institution’s role in employability beyond the professoriate. The traditional academic culture at the institution adheres closely to the notion that the PhD is solely preparation for an academic career. This position contradicts an increasing amount of internal and external evidence that supports a broadening of the definition of the doctorate’s purpose, and by extension increasing internal and external support for the need to change how institution’s prepare doctoral students for careers. Indeed, changes in the academic labour market, changing social and political expectations about the nature of doctoral students’ contributions, and the changing career interests of students suggest that the time for change has come. A change implementation plan that introduces a transitional competency and career engagement program that will result in a focus on helping students prepare for both academic and non-academic careers is proposed. The approach to change and the change implementation draws on tenets of adaptive leadership, two separate frameworks for leading change, and a leadership approach rooted in situational and transformational leadership styles. The OIP articulates specific approaches that will help articulate the need for change, monitor the success and challenges of the change plan, and identify future considerations for subsequent change cycles.