Organizational Structure, Determinants of Promotion, and Gender Differences in Attainment

Spilerman, Seymour; Petersen, Trond

In this paper, we differentiate between merit and vacancy driven promotion regimes. In the former, a vacancy at a higher level is not necessary for promotion; in the latter, a job opening is required. Using work histories from a large insurance company we investigate the implications for individual attainment from exposure to each of the advancement systems. We also examine how organizational structures differentially generate the two kinds of advancement regimes. Vacancy-based moves represent discontinuities in an otherwise orderly career progression; they become relevant when an employee reaches the ceiling grade of a job ladder or wishes to change work location.We conclude by examining the ability of this formulation of promotion regimes to account for the lower rates of attainment by women, relative to men, in large corporate settings.


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September 10, 2013