The ecological dynamics of careers: The impact of organizational founding, dissolution, and merger on job mobility

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Citation: Heather A. Haveman, Lisa E. Cohen (1994) The ecological dynamics of careers: The impact of organizational founding, dissolution, and merger on job mobility. The American Journal of Sociology (RSS)
Internet Archive Scholar (fulltext): The ecological dynamics of careers: The impact of organizational founding, dissolution, and merger on job mobility
Tagged: Sociology (RSS) Organization Ecology (RSS), Organization Theory (RSS), Human Resources (RSS)

Summary (Abstract)

Haveman and Cohen set out to synthesize and "unite" organizational ecology with the literature on social mobility. The article attempts to connect the key events in organizational ecology (founding, dissolution, and mergers of organizations) to effects on labor markets and on mobility between jobs operating under "vacancy chain" models. Because the creation and dissolution of organizations creates and destroys jobs, they aim to connect these processes to career processes. They suggest that one goal is to bring organizational sociology (via ecology) back into the "mainstream of sociology" which is focused on major social problems like occupational mobility and social structure.

The paper offers a dizzying 19 formal hypotheses on the effects of foundings, dissolutions, and mergers on the rate of intra-organizational mobility, inter-organizational mobility, and exit from the industry and on interactions between the three ecological processes.

The authors test their theory using data from top managers in the California Savings and Loan Industry. This industry is appropriate, the authors argue, because regulatory pressures require full reporting of individuals in particular positions. This dataset includes variance on both sides of the model: (1) plenty of birth, death, and mergers of organizations and (2) lots of mobility both within and between firms in the industry.

The results of the authors analysis show that ecological variables have a "considerable" effect on career dynamics and mobility both between and within organizations. The found no interactions between ecological processes on intraorganizational mobility, but strong effects of interactions for the two other types of mobility.

Theoretical and Practical Relevance

In closing the authors state their their first aim is to reframe the literature on career mobility which, until this point, had treated markets are largely static and have not included ecological variables. Their second goal is to exapnd the the literature on ecology. The paper has been cited 140 times since in the 16 years since it's publication and seems to primarily have succeeded in the second capacity as is most prominently cited by ecologists.