The life of Steve Jobs: a psychobiographical study
du Plessis, Ruvé
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This study constitutes a psychobiography of the late businessman and entrepreneur, Steve Jobs (1955-2011). The primary aim was to explore and describe the psychosocial development of Steve Jobs across his lifespan in terms of Levinson’s (1996) theory. This objective demonstrates an inductive approach and reflects the exploratory-descriptive nature of the study. The secondary aim of this study was to test the relevance of the content and eras of Levinson’s (1996) theory, demonstrating the deductive approach and reflecting the descriptive-dialogic nature of the research. The study employed a single case psychobiographical research design, which utilised psychological theory in a systematic fashion in order to illuminate the life of Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs was the co-founder of the Apple Inc. company and the founder of Pixar and NeXT. He was selected for this study by means of a non-probability sampling procedure, known as purposive sampling. The researcher found one existing psychobiography on Jobs by Ndoro (2014), with the emphasis falling on the way in which Jobs’s personality influenced his career, and vice versa. This study, however, made use of Levinson’s (1996) theory to study the psychosocial lifespan development of Jobs. Jobs’s life history was uncovered through the systematic and consistent collection, analysis and interpretation of the available biographical and historical data. The data were collected from both primary and secondary sources and it consisted mainly of published materials. Alexander’s (1988, 1990) model was used to identify and extract salient themes for analysis from the collected biographical data. Furthermore, data were organised and integrated in a conceptual matrix which also guided the categorisation, analyses and the presentation and discussion of the findings. The findings of this study supported the applicability and relevance of Levinson’s (1996) theory to gain psychological understanding of Jobs as an individual. There was a’fit’ between Jobs’s life and the eras and transitional periods as proposed by Levinson et al. (1978). The findings also confirmed the assertion by Levinson et al. (1978) that the central components of an individual’s life have a significant impact on life structure development. Jobs developed through the on-going process of individuation, as proposed by Levinson et al. (1978), which guided his development as a man, entrepreneur, businessman, creator, innovator, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), husband and father. Furthermore, recommendations are made future psychobiographical research.