Scurry, T., & Clarke, M. (2021). Navigating dual-careers: the challenge for professional couples. Personnel Review.

Purpose

Dual-careers are an increasingly common typology among professionals yet very few studies have considered how two potentially competing career trajectories are managed in relation to the broader aspects of life, such as family and personal life. This article addresses the gap through an exploration of the strategies adopted by dual-career professional couples as they seek to navigate these challenges whilst satisfying individual and shared goals and aspirations.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were carried out with 18 couples (dyads) from a range of professional occupations. Interviews were conducted individually, and then responses analysed and compared for key themes.

Findings

Rather than focusing on how couples manage work–life balance on a day-today basis this study shows how couples incorporate a more strategic approach to dual-careers so that both careers are able to progress, albeit within situational constraints.

Practical implications

To satisfy personal, business and economic performance goals, organisations and governments will need to find more creative ways to support employees as they seek to navigate careers while balancing the work and nonwork needs of themselves and their partner. The challenges faced by dual-career couples have implications for human resource managers as they seek to attract and retained talent within their organisations.

Social implications

Demographic and social changes at the household level will ultimately require changes at an organisational and broader societal level to meet the work and family needs of this growing cohort.

Originality/value

Rather than focusing on how couples manage work-life balance on a day-today basis this study shows how couples incorporate a more strategic approach to dual-careers so that both careers are able to progress, albeit within situational constraints.