Do I Really Want to Work Here? A Case Study of Double Binds in Academic Job Selection


  • Céleste Grimard
  • James M. Tolliver


In this case study, a new Ph.D. graduate, Ian Finagle, faces a critical decision regarding a job offer from Skirmish State University. As he looks back on his interviews with two selection committees, he senses a clear rift between the committees and recognizes that, if he accepts Skirmish State's job offer, he’ll find himself navigating conflicting job demands that may prove insurmountable. Our case study discusses how to recognize when a potential job is besieged by double binds – forming the very essence of a “bad” job in which the job candidate is caught in a net of contradictory expectations. Students studying career transitions, job selection, organizational culture, and academic careers may find this case study particularly relevant.