Toward a useful theory of mentoring: A conceptual analysis and critique

Barry Bozeman, Mary K. Feeney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

268 Scopus citations


In this review and critique of mentoring theory and research, the authors identify persistent problems in the development of mentoring theory. Their conceptual analysis highlights these problems with a "thought experiment" illustrating the inability of mentoring theory and research to resolve certain fundamental issues, the resolution of which is a prerequisite for the advancement of explanatory theory. They conclude with ideas about demarcating "mentoring" from the sometimes confounding concepts "training" or "socialization." Absent an ability to distinguish mentoring from related activities, progress in explanatory theory will remain impeded.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)719-739
Number of pages21
JournalAdministration and Society
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Formal mentoring
  • Group mentoring
  • Mentor
  • Mentoring theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Marketing


Dive into the research topics of 'Toward a useful theory of mentoring: A conceptual analysis and critique'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this