Cognitive Schemata of Professional Obsolescence

Asya Pazy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This exploratory study used qualitative data as a basis for grounding a new theoretical framework for understanding obsolescence and updating. Fifty professionals were interviewed at length. Four propositions emerged out of the data. One, obsolescence and updating are multifaceted phenomena. Obsolescence has different meanings for different people. Professionals adopt world views-or cognitive schemata-regarding the nature of obsolescence, its relevance to them, and their roles in coping with it. Eleven cognitive schemata were identified. Two, the various schemata constitute various ways of coping with the obsolescence threat. Three, schemata are not individual creations. They are shared by groups of people in organizations. Four, organizational rank and career stage determine to a large extent which schema will be adhered to by the person (or the group). These four propositions are integrated with extant literature, and organizational implications of the new framework are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1167-1199
Number of pages33
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1994


  • cognitive schemata
  • obsolescence
  • professionals
  • updating


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