The Early Competition: Tournament or Horse Race?
In the last chapter we reviewed the well accepted notion that early promotions are necessary in order for a career to progress--the tournament mobility model ( Rosenbaum, 1979, 1984). We also discussed the drawbacks of such career systems. In this chapter we will show that other career mobility systems do exist and show the importance of other early "signals," such as lateral mobility and the early functional area. We will also describe the relationship between career systems and corporate strategy and discuss further the advantages and disadvantages of emphasizing high rates of mobility (both horizontal and vertical) within the career system.
Only two empirical studies have clearly demonstrated the existence of tournament mobility ( Rosenbaum, 1979; Wakabayashi et al., 1988) and only one of these was conducted in an American firm (see Chapter 2). One other study described in Chapter 2 ( Sheridan et al., 1990) found only mixed support for this model: "fast starters" did not reach higher levels in the firm but did have significantly shorter time in later jobs as compared to "slow starters." However, in this analysis, no distinction was made between promotions and lateral job movement. The fast starters did not necessarily move upward, they just moved sooner, and they continued to move more quickly; but many of the moves were just transfers. More moves did lead to greater salary increments. Career mobility was also enhanced by starting in the company's trainee program and by starting in a powerful department.
Other investigators have noted similar problems in measuring career progression. Many "promotions" and interorganizational moves do not