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Organizational Rules and the Features of Work Careers

Spilerman, Seymour

Although the features of individual careers are influenced by the personnel administrative rules of work organizations, the rules themselves rarely have been examined. Rather, one generally attempts to infer the nature of the attainment process by investigating the results of the process, as seen in the salary and status trajectories of a population sample, and by relating this to individual background characteristics. In this paper, in contrast, we directly examine organizational rules. We investigate administrative specifications with respect to salary advancement and promotion in a variety of work settings; in particular, in police departments, public school systems, the construction industry, and several private-sector organizations. The sources of the organizational rules are union contracts and company data about their human resource systems. Based on this material we introduce the concepts of simple structure, unitary structure, and amalgam structure to summarize the alternate formulations of career evolution that appear in the administrative rules. Finally, we discuss the extent to which the administrative prescriptions actually constrain the attainments of individual employees.


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Research in Social Stratification and Mobility
JAI Press

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September 9, 2013