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Upward mobility: A typology of tactics and strategies for career advancement

Robert L. Laud (Department of Marketing and Management Sciences, William Paterson University of New Jersey, Wayne, New Jersey, USA)
Matthew Johnson (Department of Statistics and Education, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 15 June 2012




The purpose of this investigation is to identify and examine the tactics and upward mobility strategies utilized by individuals who advanced into leadership positions.


Drawing on both narrative, consensual qualitative research (CQR) and empirical research, the authors conducted in‐depth interviews with 187 leaders from 136 organizations.


This study offers an elaboration on the interrelatedness of career tactics and presents a typology based upon the ranking, bundling and utilization of selected tactics by organization leaders. The analysis produced a framework of four strategic categories: foundation strategies, building self‐brand, being centered and seizing opportunity. The results suggest that the utilization of these strategies is likely to influence career advancement.

Research limitations/implications

This study was confined to individuals who had achieved high level positions which may limit the ability to generalize.

Practical implications

Organization players will benefit by leveraging the upward mobility typology and recognizing the value of proactive preparedness and career self‐management. Inclusion of this tactical framework will also enhance the effectiveness of organization leadership, mentoring and career counseling programs.


The value of this study is twofold. First, it contributes to understanding of advancement tactics in the limited, and often inconclusive, research on upward mobility and predeterminants. Second, it underscores the importance of career tactics in the thought processes of career aspirants faced with a hypercompetitive market.



Laud, R.L. and Johnson, M. (2012), "Upward mobility: A typology of tactics and strategies for career advancement", Career Development International, Vol. 17 No. 3, pp. 231-254.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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