Organizational Careers

Organizational Careers

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4384-9.ch007
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An organizational career is located within an organization and consists of the positions held by an employee within its structure. The management of organizational careers has been well studied. Career management strategies and approaches had originally assumed that employees wanted not only to remain in their organization but to progress upward in its hierarchy. However, more recent research has noted that this was not true for all individuals; some people were content to remain at a certain level and others were open to moving between organizations. Thus, a view of careers needs to allow for a variety of career motivations and include the possibility of frequent movement across organizations. In this chapter, the authors discuss different patterns and orientations of organizational careers. They also discuss the choice of professions and work experiences of Asian women in the past and the career environments they are likely to experience in the future.
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Common understandings of what a career is change over time depending on evolving environments and circumstances. Researchers have used several working definitions in discussions about career forms and management. For instance, Greenhaus and Kossek (2014) provided a general definition of a career as a “pattern or sequence of work experiences that evolve over time, that is, over [the] life course.”

Career management differs depending on the organizational context. Most careers in the U.S. are located within organizations. These entities might be for-profits, nonprofits, or governmental. Even the founders of many small businesses or entrepreneurial ventures, if these are successful, transition into working for an organization, albeit one which they lead. Careers that are untethered to organizations include (sub)contracting and freelancing.

Successful organizational careers are closely related to the value perceived by the organization in what the individual employee has to offer. This valuation is usually linked to organizational goals and strategies and varies across organizations. There is some similarity in the perception of value across private, for-profit organizations since their overarching goals are short-term revenue generation and long-term organizational sustainability. Value is viewed differently by nonprofit and governmental organizations, where work contributing to the achievement of social purposes (rather than generating revenue) is likely to be considered critical (Moore, 2000). Further, nonprofit organizations and governmental agencies obtain revenue in different ways than for-profits. Nonprofits need to convince donors of the value they create and deliver. Governmental agencies need to garner “sources of legitimacy and support, and operational capacity to deliver the value sources of legitimacy” and build “operational capacity to deliver the value” (Moore, 2000, p. 183). These distinctions imply that employee performance and value are viewed differently across these sectors.

Organizational careers in the private sector have been researched extensively from both the organizational and individual perspectives. Organizational issues that have been studied include employee retention, employee development, organizational commitment, and performance evaluation. Individual employee areas of interest are career choices, career patterns, effects of biases in the workplace, and multi-organizational careers.

This chapter focuses on careers in for-profit, private (non-governmental) organizations. In previous chapters, we have discussed organizational aspects of relevance to Asian women such as authority and power, performance evaluations, and employee resource groups. In this chapter, we discuss careers, beginning with a brief overview of research on individual careers, followed by a discussion of how women’s careers differ from the prototypical organizational careers of men. Finally, it appears that organizations are undergoing an across-the-board shift due to changes related to globalization and organizational function, which in turn is giving rise to new career orientations and forms. We present these developments as important factors for Asian women to consider in their career planning and management.

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