Careers of Managers, Comparison between ICT and Paper Business Sectors
Heilmann, Pia (2004-12-15)
Acta Universitatis Lappeenrantaensis ISSN 1456-4491URN:ISSN:1456-4491
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The purpose of this study is to increase understanding of how the managers build their early career in information and communication technology industry (ICT business sector) and pulp- and paper industry (paper business sector). The focus of the study is to explore the importance differing a business sectors have in influencing managerial careers. Business sectors can affect careers in several ways.Sectors have different history and traditions. Also the age structure of ICT personnel differs from the age structure of personnel in the paper industry. Managers in the ICT and paper sector are technically educated but in different disciplines. Differences exist also in ways of recruiting and developing commitment inpersonnel. The target group of this research, middle management engineering personnel, work in Finnish ICT and paper companies. Research data were gathered in April-December 2002 in South-Karelia by interviewing 30 managers and six directors working in three Finnish ICT companies and in three paper companies. The research issue is approached on two levels: the individual level and the organizational level. The managers related their career stories in focused interviews. Directors, representing the organizations, described the generalities of the business sector and gave background information on company policies, human relationshippractices, as well as career and human resource development. Results of the study contribute to research discussions of career, life-span reasoning, socialization and commitment. Career is conceived as a series of positions including everykind of hierarchical mobility and all kinds of positions in work. A manager's career develops in interaction with the organization and it can be seen as involving a socializing process in an organization as a consequence of experiences andchanges in positions. This research contributes to the understanding of the nature of career in the context of two business sectors. Universal career theories,for the most part, do not perceive the importance of business sector in determining career experience. This study concentrates on describing and understanding early careers in two different business areas, elements committing managers to particular business sectors and the actions of companies in that particular sector. While career research began in the middle of 1950s, the theoretical basis of career research seems to be quite fragmented still. However, a dichotomy is consistently presented between traditional, hierarchical career research and boundaryless career thinking. In this research we examine how these old and new career concepts are evidence in the ICT and paper sectors. Careers are changing from formal, hierarchy-based structures to more fluid arrangements. The new boundaryless career concept captures territory from old career thinking. Mobility between employers, networks, and changing hierarchical structures in organizations, as well as personal and family reasons are theorized to bring changes to careers patterns in the future. However, the pace of this change in careers will vary between the ICT and paper business sectors. Findings of this research indicate that business sector has an effect on how managerial careers develop. The environment where career is developed differs between ICT and paper sectors. Careers begin differently in the two environments and the speed of career progression is distinct. ICT careers are built within the business sector whereas paper careers are made inside one company. Also recruiting and socialization practices differ from one sector to the other.
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