any better than that which had been gathered in the first three years. This is consistent with the findings of Rosenbaum ( 1979). The winners are determined in the first three years of the competition. The fast tracks are partially set even before the contest begins, as evidenced by the impact of university ratings and assessment center potential ratings.
The authors of the study believe that those young managers who developed high quality relations with their superiors became part of an "in group" who began to move upward and inward toward the core of the career cone as proposed by Schein ( 1978). Those who were not able to do this found themselves on an "out group" track which leads laterally around the outside of the cone.
This very structured career system is administered by a highly respected management development section that has tremendous power. Their recommendations were almost always followed--top management approval would be required to change a derision made by this group. In this company, it was felt that such critical, long-term management development issues should be handled by a specialized staff, not entirely by line management.
There is much to be accomplished during the first few years of a career. The new employee must learn his or her job; must learn to work with peers, superiors, and possibly subordinates; must learn all the written and unwritten rules of the game; and must learn all about the corporate culture in order to be able to function competently. In addition, studies cited here indicate that the new employees must also prove their ability to perform at a high level and start to move very early--at least by the third year of employment.
Let us briefly review the evidence. The Bell System studies showed that those who received challenging first year assignments were more successful later on. Rosenbaum found that only those who were promoted within the first three years of their career made it to middle management within 13 years. Sheridan et al. found that entering the firm through a trainee program and starting in a powerful department enhanced one's career mobility. Finally, we saw that even in Japan career track decisions are made very early. The data reviewed so far seem to clearly describe sponsored and tournament models. You must prove yourself to be a winner very early or else you are out of the race.
What are the implications of such practices? We feel that there are generally negative consequences, both for the individual and for the organization. The individual may be still adjusting to an intense socialization experience--still "learning the ropes." The fast starter is likely to be the person whose anticipatory socialization was particularly effec-