Organizational Career Mobility: Promotion Chances in a Corporation During Periods of Growth and Contraction

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This study analyzes the age distribution of upward mobility in a large corporation, examining changes in the age-promotion relationship for different levels in the organizational hierarchly, for different kinds of employess, and across time periods of increasing and creasing organizational growth. Analyzing the corporation's complete personnel records over three times periods, this paper test a precipitous-decline hypothesis derived from the organizational careers literature, an exponential-decline hypothesis derived from the Markov literature on career mobility, and an increase-decrease hipothesis derived from the economic literature on life-cycle earnings patterns. Analysis finds partial support for each hypothesis for different groups of employees. It also finds remarkable stability in these patterns across periods, particularly for the most and least favored groups; the changes which do occur tend to "spillover" to specific stadby age-education groups. The age-promotion curves and the spillover patterns are explained in terms of a new efficiency-motivation model of organizational mobility. Finally, analysis indicates that these age effects seem to persist after controlling for years of service. The implications of these findings for organizational selection systems and for career and life-cycle phenomena are considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-48
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
StatePublished - Jul 1979


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