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Graduate underemployment: a systematic literature review

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Tracy ScurryORCiD



The diversity of graduate careers is widely recognised, and the present paper seeks to draw attention to an increasingly important phenomenon – the careers of graduates in non-graduate occupation (GRINGOs). The phenomenon of individuals being employed in roles for which their education would appear to make them overqualified has been studied by researchers from an exceptionally wide range of disciplines, including economists, educationalists, sociologists, psychologists, and management scholars. The phenomenon is variously referred to as underutilisation, over-education, or underemployment, but we use the latter term within the present paper as it is the term most commonly used within the management field. Though there has been some interdisciplinary research examining underemployment, it remains the case that much of our knowledge remains locked within the boundaries of individual disciplines. In this paper we therefore offer a systematic literature review of research on underemployment drawing upon all of the fields in which this phenomenon has been investigated. The review examines the diversity of disciplinary perspectives, whilst highlighting the limited diversity of methodological approaches adopted. The paper is structured in three parts. Firstly, we examine the broader literature on underemployment generally, identifying key concepts and themes. Secondly, we focus on how these concepts and themes have been applied to the specific study of graduate underemployment. Finally, we conclude by identifying key areas for future research, and considering the implications of this growing phenomenon for HRM.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Blenkinsopp J, Scurry T

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: 6th International Conference of the Dutch HRM network

Year of Conference: 2009

Date deposited: 01/03/2010