Describes a study in which actual mobility paths of 94 managers in a special governmental agency in Israel were analysed, in order to identify important career enhancers. This primarily exploratory study was designed after managers expressed concerns about the implicit role of such factors which may not reflect formal career policy. Managers at the agency, which is involved in marketing and procurement of defence‐related goods, oversee field activities and support or administrative functions. Data from computerized personnel files were analysed through the use of transition matrices and statistical analyses. Two factors enhancing managerial careers in the agency emerged: an entry field job (an assessment position), and previous military career (an assessment career). These informal career contingencies may reflect a latent opportunity structure not formally recognized by the organization, but perhaps understood and internalized by members. By implication, managers who recognize such contingencies and manage their careers accordingly may become better adjusted to new career environments. Furthermore, second careerists, whose principal mode of adjustment to novel settings (e.g. retired military officers, mobile college professors) is “replication” of past experiences, may enhance their new careers in familiar rather than unknown terrain. Thus for retired officers service in the public sector may be an effective career choice. Organizations that are concerned with career effectiveness could use such concepts to improve career planning and both entry and outplacement human resources services.
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