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Career management in transition: HRD themes from the Estonian civil service

Christopher J. Rees (IDPM, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)
Jane Järvalt (Department of Personnel, State Chancellery, Tallinn, Estonia)
Beverley Metcalfe (IDPM, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)

Journal of European Industrial Training

ISSN: 0309-0590

Article publication date: 1 September 2005




To explore, through a case study, some of the key career‐related HRD issues that senior managers are currently facing in the Estonian civil service.


Presents primary empirical research into career management in the Estonian civil service since 1991, that is, in the post‐Soviet era. The research involved in‐depth interviews with a group of 12 senior staff employed by the Estonian civil service.


The interview data reveal the ways in which downsizing and de‐layering in the Estonian public sector have led to shortened career paths, increased functional flexibility, increased spans of control and shifts towards open job systems.

Research limitations/implications

The research explored career‐related issues solely within the Estonian civil service. Further research would be needed in a wider range of organisations and countries before the transferability of the findings could be established to transitional economies more generally.

Practical implications

Provides practical insights into the difficulties of career management in transitional economies situations from an HR perspective.


Offers a valuable contribution by demonstrating that, within certain parameters, Western‐based career management strategies and techniques may be adapted to fit transitional public services in Estonia but only as one element of a comprehensive HR modernisation programme.



Rees, C.J., Järvalt, J. and Metcalfe, B. (2005), "Career management in transition: HRD themes from the Estonian civil service", Journal of European Industrial Training, Vol. 29 No. 7, pp. 572-592.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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