Meaning in Mentoring: More Than Meets the Eye/“I”

Russell Warhurst, Kate Black*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
45 Downloads (Pure)


While the literature of mentoring is extensive, the theorization of mentoring is a noted deficiency. In addressing this deficiency, this conceptual article begins with a brief critical analysis of the extensive corpus of mentoring inquiry and discerns emerging theoretical trajectories as a foundation for the distinct theoretical focus adopted. The social constructionist approach to understanding identity, and Lacanian psychodynamic identity theorizing, is critically developed. The conceptualization of identity as a discursive construct, emerging from a balance between conscious identity-work and unconscious identity-regulation, is examined. These theoretical tools are then applied to mentoring. The article demonstrates that for both mentors and protégés, mentoring involves mutually beneficial identity-work, but that this identity-work can readily go awry with both parties potentially succumbing to forces distorting desired identities and negating the good intentions of mentoring. The implications for mentoring practice are detailed, and trajectories for empirical inquiry with identity are outlined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-375
JournalHuman Resource Development Review
Issue number3
Early online date10 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019


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