Building career mobility: A critical exploration of career capital

Overview of this issue
Phil McCash
Geronto guidance: Lifelong guidance
Peter Plant, Inger Marie Bakke and Lyn Barham
Design and evaluation of a short course to address the career
related issues of adults from mid-life onwards
Lisa Law
The role of career surveys: Identifying issues and evaluating
Charles Jackson
‘The world is your oyster’: Exploring the career conceptions of
Gen-Z students
Steve Mowforth
Career coaching tools: Evidence-based techniques for practice
Julia Yates
Cognitive information processing theory: Applications in research
and practice
V. Casey Dozier and Debra Osborn
Moving from information provision to co-careering: Integrated
guidance as a new approach to e-guidance in Norway
Ingrid Bårdsdatter Bakke, Erik Hagaseth Haug and
Tristram Hooley
Building career mobility: A critical exploration of career capital
Cathy Brown and Tracey Wond
Journal of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling | Issue 41
The NICEC Journal Issue 41
Promoting research and reective practice in career development
Promoting research and reective practice in career development
National Institute for Career
Education and Counselling
Print: ISSN 2046-1348
Online: ISSN 2059-4879
October 2018 Issue 41
Published in partnership with the CDI
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Graham Allan, David Andrews, Jane Artess,
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Sultana, Rie Thomson, Raimo Vuorinen.
October 2018 issue:
Phil McCash
April 2019 issue:
Pete Robertson
Lyn Barham
Lyn Barham, Anthony Barnes, Alison Dixon,
Charles Jackson, Phil McCash, Claire Nix, Hazel
Reid, Peter Robertson, and Michelle Stewart.
The ofcial title of the journal for citation
purposes is Journal of the National Institute
for Career Education and Counselling (Print
ISSN 2046-1348; online ISSN 2059-4879). It
is widely and informally referred to as ‘the
NICEC journal’. Its former title was Career
Research and Development: the NICEC Journal,
ISSN 1472-6564, published by CRAC, and
the nal edition under this title was issue
25. To avoid confusion we have retained
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previous title.
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Designed & typeset by J. G. Wilkinson. Printed by Wordcraft Typesetting, Guildford. 01483 560735. © National Institute for Career Education and Counselling
The Career Development Institute (CDI) is
the UK-wide professional body for the career
development sector. We have a growing
membership of 4500 individual members and
afliate organisations and speak with one
voice for a lively and diverse sector.
We have a key role to play in inuencing UK skills policy
as it affects those with whom career development
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Below are a few of our major achievements:
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Clear focus on professional identity and increasing the
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QCG/D and the CDI Academy including the new CDI
Certicate in Careers Leadership.
The CDI has a critical role to play in setting standards
and articulating what quality looks like for the sector.
Importantly we are an awarding body, managing the
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agenda and is fast becoming recognised as the sector’s
equivalent to chartered status.
We are delighted to be working in partnership
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research-focused events which take place twice a
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The Journal is made available to all CDI members
via our website.
October 2018, Issue 41
2 Overview of this issue
Phil McCash
3 Geronto guidance: Lifelong guidance
Peter Plant, Inger Marie Bakke and Lyn
10 Design and evaluation of a short course to
address the career related issues of adults
from mid-life onwards
Lisa Law
18 The role of career surveys: Identifying issues
and evaluating practice
Charles Jackson
26 ‘The world is your oyster’: Exploring the
career conceptions of Gen-Z students
Steve Mowforth
33 Career coaching tools: Evidence-based
techniques for practice
Julia Yates
39 Cognitive information processing theory:
Applications in research and practice
V. Casey Dozier and Debra Osborn
48 Moving from information provision to co-
careering: Integrated guidance as a new
approach to e-guidance in Norway
Ingrid Bårdsdatter Bakke, Erik Hagaseth
Haug and Tristram Hooley
56 Building career mobility: A critical
exploration of career capital
Cathy Brown and Tracey Wond
64 Book Review
66 Call for papers | Forthcoming events
October 2018, Issue 41
National Institute for Career
Education and Counselling
Manuscripts are welcomed focusing on any form of
scholarship that can be related to the NICEC Statement.
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2|Journal of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling
Welcome to the October 2018 issue of the NICEC
journal. The articles below were contributed in
response to an open call for papers. It is once again
a pleasure to report that innovative, creative, and
engaging scholarship is thriving in our eld.
Peter Plant, Inger Marie Bakke and Lyn
Barham get the ball rolling with a timely call
for ‘geronto guidance’ for older people. They
are particularly interested in the support that is
available around retirement arguing it is currently
something of a blind spot in terms of a genuinely
lifelong guidance system.
The second article from Lisa Law continues the
theme of age and change. It uses an action research
strategy to evaluate the delivery of a workshop for
older students at a UK university. The workshop
demonstrates a creative and successful example of
practice for this key client group.
Charles Jackson argues for the value of career
surveys drawing from his work with trainee doctors
and medical students. The surveys, it is suggested,
highlight the importance of the human touch and
talking directly with other people about career
issues. The article nishes with a set of conclusions
about the value of career surveys.
Steve Mowforth extends the use of survey to
small-scale qualitative research with generation
z students at a British university. He argues that
contemporary scene has moved on from attitudes
and beliefs associated with what he terms the
industrial state.
Julia Yates reports on some contemporary
techniques in career coaching. These include visual
tools, role play tools, possible selves technique,
passengers on the bus technique, pre-designed
frameworks, and client-generated maps.
Debra Osborn and V. Casey Dozier argue for
the value of cognitive information processing theory
in relation to interventions. They provide two case
studies to illustrate the approach.
Ingrid Bårdsdatter Bakke, Erik Haug and
Tristram Hooley provide a timely update on
guidance developments in Norway. They propose
an innovative approach to combining face-to-face
and online guidance based on career learning and
instructional design.
Our nal article by Cathy Brown and Tracey
Wond is devoted to the topic of career capitals.
Two contrasting conceptions of capital are critically
assessed. Drawing from this, they propose some
ideas for the development of career capital using a
case study.
This issue concludes with a book review of Graduate
Employability in Context: Theory, Research and Debate
edited by Ciaran Burke and Fiona Christie.
Phil McCash, Editor
Overview of this issue
56|Journal of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling
Building career mobility: A critical
exploration of career capital
Cathy Brown & Tracey Wond
Work transitions can be stressful to those
who experience them, and yet are happening more
frequently, as the notion of a job for life fades. Ensuring
smooth and successful work transitions is therefore
in the direct interests of individuals and, indirectly,
employers. Using the career capital construct, this
article explores how work transitions can be better
negotiated by individuals. After introducing career
capital, the article progresses to critically review two
theoretical frameworks of career capital. To illustrate
the discussion, one individual, a business leader in
a wider study we are undertaking, is introduced to
exemplify and illuminate our discussion of career
capital. The article concludes by offering strategies to
support career capital development.
Career mobility is increasingly important. With
growing commercial pressures on organisations, a job
for life is perhaps less realistic for individuals than it
once was (Tulgan, 2001), let alone lifetime employment
with a single employer (Arthur, Khapova & Richardson,
2017). Instead, individuals are likely to have to
transition between roles more frequently (Kambourov
and Manovski, 2008), whilst seeking out opportunities
within the careers landscape. Indeed, there have been
several calls for more ‘intelligent careers’ in response
to the changing work environment (Arthur Clamon,
DeFillippi & Adams, 1995; Tempest & Coupland, 2016;
Arthur, et al., 2017).
Inherent in several denitions and concepts of the
career is an acknowledgement that careers comprise
sequences of work activities or employment (see
Ashforth & Saks, 1995; Arnold, 1997), these sequences
are punctuated with work transitions. Work
transitions can include a range of moves including
upwards and sideward (lateral) moves, either
inside an individual’s current organisation or across
organisations. Here, career mobility is dened as the
individual’s ability to undertake such role transitions.
Having such mobility and undertaking work transitions
can be stressful for individuals (Baruch, 2006).
Experiencing such transitions requires both physical
and mental adjustments to routines, networks, training
needs, identity and attitude (Ashforth & Saks, 1995;
Clarke, 2009; Ibarra & Barbulescu, 2010). For some,
transitions may expose fragility, prompting the need
for introspection, re-evaluation and the creation of
new career narratives (Clarke, 2009).
The likelihood and potential impact of these work
transitions on individuals gives rise to further
exploration of both the nature of transitions and
relevant aspects of personal resources that aid
an individual’s role transition. Here, such personal
resources are dened as career capital. Awareness of
career capital, and relevant development, cultivation
and leveraging of career capital could support
individuals to make successful work transitions.
This article draws upon learning from a wider, ongoing
doctoral study which explores the career capital that
business leaders need to facilitate role transitions
within an organisation. The wider study uses a
case study approach comprising face-to-face, semi-
structured interviews with 36 business leaders who
had recently made internal role transitions in a UK-
based construction company. The interviews explored
aspects that had supported and hindered internal
role transitions, and the participants’ identication of
additional support they perceived might have helped
them. By adopting a case study design, it lends itself
to bringing in-depth understanding to a complex,
particular real-life phenomenon (Gaya & Smith, 2016),
such as business leaders’ role transition experiences.
October 2018, Issue 41
Such understanding can lead to the creation of
context-dependent knowledge (Flyvbjerg, 2011) and
a source of expertise and insight (Yin, 2009, 2012),
that can both stimulate learning and be transferrable
to new situations (Flyvbjerg, 2011; Hyett, Kenny &
Dickson-Swift, 2014). In particular, one business leader
is used to illustrate the importance of career capital
during work transitions. To preserve his anonymity
we refer to him as Colin throughout this article.
Colin emerged as a role model in the way in which he
leveraged elements of his career capital to make an
effective work transition. We will next explore career
capital through critiquing two theoretical frameworks
before moving on to exemplify this through exploring
Colin’s transition experience.
Career capital
Career capital is not a new concept and has been
explored previously in professional development and
career management contexts (Dickmann & Harris,
2005; Felker & Gianecchini, 2015; Zikic, 2015; Tempest
& Coupland, 2016). Yet, the concept still remains
relatively under-used and few have explored what
this means in particular contexts and work situations
(such as during work transitions). The term, ‘career
capital’ was rst introduced by Arthur, Inkson and
Pringle (1999), following earlier identication of career
competencies (DeFillippi & Arthur, 1994). Put simply,
career capital refers to competencies that support
individuals to build their careers and can be dened as
‘the overall set of non-nancial resources a person is
able to bring to his or her work’ (Arthur, DeFillippi &
Jones, 2001: 101). The concept of career capital helps
us to dene and understand how individuals use their
resources and competencies in the context of their
DeFillippi and Arthur (1994) identied three career
competencies/capabilities at an individual level:
‘Knowing-Why’, ‘Knowing-How’, and ‘Knowing-Whom’.
These three competencies and capabilities contribute
to our overall career capital.
‘Knowing-Why’ includes knowing beliefs, values,
purpose and interests and shapes motivation;
‘Knowing-How’ comprises occupational knowledge,
expertise and skills; ‘Knowing-Whom’ denotes
networks and interpersonal relationships that
support contacts, learning and reputation via social
capital (DeFillippi & Arthur, 1994). These three ‘forms
of knowing’ are regarded as the currency of an
individual’s career capital (Arthur et al, 1995: 9; Inkson
& Arthur, 2001) (see Figure 1).
DeFillippi and Arthur’s (1994) model has some
limitations as the categories can be ambiguous; full
denitions of the ‘Knowing-Why’, ‘Knowing-How’ and
‘Knowing-Whom’ were omitted. In addition, by purely
emphasising the network structure, ‘Knowing-Whom’
has a narrow scope; it misses out references to the
resources or potential resources available through this
structure, as often acknowledged within social capital
theory (Bourdieu, 1986). Also, it only makes reference
to the cultural context within ‘Knowing-Whom’
through emphasising the family network as a resource.
What is omitted is the wider, cultural consideration
of the role of family within upbringing and its impact
Cathy Brown & Tracey Wond
Figure 1: Representation of DeFillippi and Arthur (1994) (Source: Authors’ own)
58|Journal of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling
on our cultural capital development as an individual.
Finally, it is a static theory and fails to recognise the
dynamism and movement that is emphasised with
Bourdieu’s capital work, e.g. how can ‘Knowing-Why’
generate ‘Knowing-How’?
Iellatchitch, Mayrhofer and Meyer (2003) offer
an alternative career capital framework. They
acknowledge how our cultural background and
economic resources, as well as our social networks
impact our investment into our career capital.
Iellatchitch, et al.’s (2003) framework is underpinned
by Pierre Bourdieu’s capital theory which identies
social capital such as social networks, resources and
reputation (see Figure 2).
Showing parallels with DeFillippi and Arthur, cultural
capital includes our educational background, technical
skills and qualications (Knowing-How); whilst
social capital comprises our networks, contacts and
group memberships (Knowing-Whom). Economic
capital denotes our money (Mayrhofer, Iellatchitch,
Meyer, Steyrer, Schifnger & Strunk, 2004: 875).
Moreover, Iellatchitch et al. (2003) acknowledge
how career capital holds different value depending
on the context, whether this be within a particular
organisation or within another area of the careers
market. Consequently, symbolic capital is dened as
the career capital that is recognised as valuable within
a career eld (Iellatchitch et al., 2003). In addition, the
circularity of career capital is recognised, where career
capital aspects can be applied to generate additional
career capital. Despite these additions, Iellatchitch et
al’s model does have weaknesses. The terms can be
difcult to dene and use, in particular symbolic capital
(Haslberger & Brewster, 2009). Also, it assumes that
individual development of career capital is hampered
by: upbringing or socialisation (Mayrhofer Meyer,
Steyrer & Langer, 2007), genetics and class (Iellatchitch,
et al., 2003), as emphasised in Bourdieu’s notion of
symbolic violence where certain cultural values or
ideology (such as gender) can be normalised (Connolly
& Healy, 2004). Such hindrances reduce an individual’s
ability to develop in these areas.
From these two career capital frameworks, there are
several points to note about career capital.
Career capital can be applied to individuals or
organisations: Career capital can be applied
to individual growth, including personal
development (Felker & Gianecchini, 2015) and
Building career mobility: A critical exploration of career capital
Figure 2: Representation of Iellatchitch et al. (2003) (Source: Authors’ own)
October 2018, Issue 41
career management (Tempest & Coupland,
2016), as well as organisation contexts, such as
organisational change (Arthur et al.,1999) and
talent management (Zikic, 2015);
Career capital is context-dependent: Career
capital is dependent on the work environment
and varies in different contexts. For instance, an
individual’s career capital may be better valued in
one situation than others;
Career capital may be transported and
transferrable: Whilst more ‘bounded’ aspects of
career capital are valued solely within specic
situations, ‘boundaryless’ forms of career capital
(DeFillippi & Arthur, 1996: 124) can be transferred
to new situations thereby supporting personal
Career capital can be reinvested and scaled up:
Career capital is extendable; it could be invested
to generate additional career capital (Iellatchitch,
et al., 2003). For instance, an individual may share
their know-how with a contact in their network
so as to strengthen the relationship.
Working within the case organisation, Colin described
in his interview how he had instigated a cross-
functional role move from one department to another.
Colin had recognised and identied his own career
aspirations, interests, and future needs and initiated
this cross-team transfer (‘Knowing-Why’). Such an
inter-functional team transition was rare, with only
three of the 36 business leaders undertaking such
a move. With a challenging previous line manager
seeking to retain him, Colin showed tenacity and
inuence (‘Knowing-How’) to overcome this force and
overcome this silo-mentality.
Also, he could be seen to use social forms of capital in
order to support his work transition. His relationship
with his new line manager (‘Knowing-Whom’), a key
contact within his internal work network, was core
to his transition and the success of his transition
experience. In particular, his line manager approved
the nancial investment – or economic capital - to pay
for Colin to complete a diploma which helped to build
further his know-how and cultural capital in the form
of a formal qualication:
One of the things that I negotiated was that they
had offered to pay for a [diploma]. They said ‘Yes,
we will support you.’ I just thought ‘wow!’
I had just nished the diploma, the [technical
specialism] diploma, and I was armed with all of
this information which I could now go and apply
[…] it is kind of turning up to lay a carpet with a
full tool box rather than an empty tool box […] I
knew the kind of best practice approach because
I had seen case studies and read the conceptual
frameworks and the different books and studies
and so that helped me to form the foundation.
(Colin, Interviewee)
Colin’s metaphorical use of ‘toolkit’ was also
interesting to observe. Colin appeared to be able to
recognise the variety of competencies and capabilities
(tools) available to him (in his ‘toolkit’/ portfolio), to
support his transition. Without realising it, Colin had
acknowledged the importance of developing and using
his career capital.
Furthermore, Colin’s new line manager represented
him well within the Executive discussions, which built
further his reputation across the business (‘Knowing-
She […] acted as an advocate when we went
to the [executive meeting] […] so some of the
things was building credibility, and I suppose that
may be where building quick wins came from.
‘So how can you build credibility?’ ‘Well let’s
have some quick wins’ […] it helped me build
credibility in the role and recognition of me in
the role.
(Colin, Interviewee)
The support from his new line manager developed
Colin’s self-condence further and enabled him to
advise key stakeholders:
So that helped me to build condence and
people because they knew me, they asked me for
advice and every time they asked me for advice,
and I gave advice and someone beneted from it,
I was building condence and it happened more
and more.
(Colin, Interviewee)
Cathy Brown & Tracey Wond
60|Journal of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling
This led to a positive developmental spiral of
condence, reputation and know-how building.
Experiencing no transition barriers and requiring no
additional support, Colin ‘took a few weeks’ to settle;
‘I don’t think the team, or [line manager] could have
done any more’, Colin later remarked in his interview.
Moreover, the new line manager aided the previous
line manager to secure a new team member to
backll Colin, thereby easing the opposing forces of
silo-mentality. Within six months of undertaking the
interview, Colin left the organisation and secured a
more senior role.
Colin’s role transition story illustrates how central
his relationship with his new line manager was to his
success. Colin leveraged this supportive relationship
to develop his career capital directly through nancial
investment in his diploma as well as actively building
his reputation within the Executive team. Moreover,
this support indirectly helped Colin to build his self-
condence which enabled him to perform well and
enhance his reputation even further. Collectively,
these educational, relational and reputational elements
supported Colin to make his work transitions (and in
the case of the rst internal move, to settle quickly).
On leaving the business and securing a more senior
role, he demonstrated how his symbolic capital was
transferrable and valued within both the previous and
new employment contexts.
Developing career capital
Our learning from career capital theory through the
wider study, and exemplied by Colin, provides us
with an understanding of how career capital could be
leveraged to support work transitions. We also saw
Colin, and others in the study, develop their career
capital. Acknowledging the nature and characteristics
of career capital explored earlier, and the ndings of
our wider study, ve strategies emerge to support the
development of career capital in the contexts of work
Trading strategies – it may be possible to
exchange aspects of our own career capital with
others (Lin & Huang, 2005). For example, we may
be able to share some technical expertise with a
colleague and in return receive coaching to build
our levels of personal motivation;
Investing economic capital – we may
choose to cultivate further our know-how
through investing economic capital in additional
development, as illustrated by Colin who, on
moving into a new role, negotiated a company-
sponsored diploma;
Leveraging key relationships to build
reputation – it may be plausible to work with
our existing key contacts to develop ways of
building further our personal reputation, similar to
Colin who leveraged his line manager relationship
to build his reputation with the executive team;
Drawing upon others to gain additional
capital – people within our networks may be
willing to support our development whether this
is through building further our capabilities, skills
or contacts (Lin & Huang, 2005). For example, our
connections may be happy to share their know-
how, as well as introducing us to members of their
networks that may help us (i.e. Knowing-Whom);
Reection and self-learning – introducing
self-development habits within our life can
support the development of our own capabilities
and strengths (Hooley & Barham, 2015). For
example, journaling and meditation may increase
our own levels of self-awareness and self-
management, which may lead us to understand
our development path.
Building career mobility
The acknowledgement and manipulation of career
capital can support individuals to make work
transitions. Our wider study observed conscious
attempts by business leaders, such as Colin, to build
resources within his career capital portfolio or toolkit.
Pro-activity, self-awareness and the possession of
transferable aspects of capital were evident amongst
those who transitioned successfully. Learning from this,
we therefore propose three sequential development
prompts (that we assign the acronym of RI-F-TT),
that can aid development of career capital when
approaching work transitions (see Figure 3).
Recognise (R) and Identify (I): It is critical
that individuals take stock of their future career.
Individuals need to identify their interests,
Building career mobility: A critical exploration of career capital
October 2018, Issue 41
values, future needs, and ultimately, their career
aspirations. They must also recognise that
career capital is context-dependent. Without
understanding this, career capital cannot be
consciously planned and developed. Colin, for
instance, was able to recognise rather objectively
the tools from his metaphorical toolkit he needed
to make the move he wanted and instigated;
Future-focused (F): Individuals should give
consideration to the future career eld they wish
to operate in, and have a strong appreciation
of the emerging trends in this eld. Such an
assessment may identify high value career capital
items (Tempest & Coupland, 2016) that will be
critical for such forthcoming career transitions,
as well as low value, obsolete career capital
aspects (Arthur et al., 1999) that can be let go of.
Emerging career capital needs can therefore be
Targeted (T) and Transferable (T): Individuals
should build targeted and transferrable career
capital. Having predicted the emerging career
capital that will be valued, a focused approach
to building career capital can be taken. It will be
important to ensure that this will be transferable
into different situations and employers within this
career eld, rather than it being anchored to one
particular setting. Colin’s diploma built valuable
knowledge and cultural capital that could be
transferred into his new role, and later to his new
By taking a considered and planned approach,
individuals can build greater levels of personal work
mobility into targeted areas.
Figure 3: RI-F-TT - Development
prompts for career capital
development (Source: Authors’ own)
The frequency of transitions between roles and
employers is increasing for role holders and often
these can be experienced as stressful. Consequently,
transition management is becoming an increasingly
important skill for individuals to cultivate.
Career capital can act as a resource that individuals
can develop to facilitate their transitions between
roles and employers, where the opportunities exist
within the careers landscape. Moreover, focused and
conscious attempts to develop critical and emerging
career capital may help individuals to realise their
aspirations and to support their development of
physical and psychological mobility within a particular
career eld. We observed Colin do this.
Career capital theory has explored how we draw
from key competencies and resources in order to
support our career management and development
into particular career elds. In addition, it emphasises
how career capital can be developed through
considered investment and application. As part of
a wider study, the use of career capital to support
voluntary organisational work transitions within a UK-
business is being explored. Future avenues of research
could include currently unexplored work transition
experiences, for example involuntary role transitions
within an organisation.
Cathy Brown & Tracey Wond
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For correspondence
Cathy Brown
Chartered Occupational Psychologist,
Evolve Consulting Services Limited
PhD student, University of Derby
Dr Tracey Wond
Head of Research (Business, Law and Social Sciences),
University of Derby
Cathy Brown & Tracey Wond
... Finally, knowing-whom is related to networks that support relationships, learning and reputation through social capital, and interpersonal relationships (Latzke et al., 2013;Brown and Wond, 2018). In the study conducted by Brown et al. (2020) found that knowing-self consists of self-awareness, self-confidence and motivation; knowinghow consists of "broad, flexible skills", career-related experience, career-related knowledge, technical expertise and qualifications; knowing-who consists of internal and external networks and reputation. ...
... Besides, individuals will be able to become more aware of both their own abilities and career opportunities with all these characteristics. Career capital may vary in different contexts depending on the working environment, it may calculate, it may be portable, and it can be applied to individual growth, including personal development (Brown and Wond, 2018). Sutherland et al. (2015) revealed 27 career capital components and five groups in their study. ...
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