Organizational Careers: A forward theory

[ The following paper is extracted from Glaser, B.G. (1968). Organizational careers: A sourcebook for theory. Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company. The full text is available through]

Barney G. Glaser, Ph.D., Hon. Ph.D.


In general, organizations obtain work from people by offering them some kind of career within their structures. The operation of organizations, therefore, depends on people’s assuming a career orientation toward them. To generate this orientation, organizations distribute rewards, working conditions, and prestige to their members according to career level; thus these benefits are properties of the organizational career. To advance in this career is to receive more or better of all or some of these benefits. Generally speaking, therefore, people work to advance their organizational careers. But also, generally speaking, people do not like to talk about their careers or to be asked about them in everyday conversations with many or unknown people. In this sense, a person’s own organizational career is a sensitive or “taboo topic.” Discussions with others about one’s career occur only under the most private, discreet conditions. As a result, while people may talk abstractly and generally about careers, these discussions are typically based on a combination of the little they know of their own career and much speculation. They often have very little particular or general knowledge based on actual careers. These observations apply also to a large sector or the sociological community, as indicated by a brief perusal of the table of contents of sociological monographs and readers on organizations. The topic of careers is seldom discussed and almost never concertedly focused upon.

Several sociologists, however, have written on careers in general in their focus on problems of work and professionals. Many of their discussions, of course, clearly refer to organizational careers, though these sociologists are writing on the general topic of occupational careers. There is a difference between these two topics. An occupational career is a very general category referring to a patterned path of mobility wherever it may take people geographically, organizationally, and socially while following a certain type of work. An organizational career, in contrast, is a specific entity offered by an organization to people working in it, using its services, or buying its goods.

Purpose of This Reader

Since so much of what we all do is linked with organizations, it is very important to consider an organizational career as a special entity and develop our understanding of it. We hope to achieve this purpose partially by bringing together many articles on careers that fit the category of organizational work careers. This act itself will initiate much general understanding.

We also wish to start the generation of a formal, grounded theory of organizational careers by initiating comparative analysis of these articles (Glaser & Strauss, 1967, Part I). In its beginning operation, a comparative analysis for generating theory starts with the general understandings gained by reading about the same problem from the perspective of several different organizational careers. Pursuit of the comparative analysis brings out several other purposes of this reader.

For the interested reader, whether sociologist or non-sociologist, this book brings together a very rich body of comparative knowledge, experience, and thought on organizational careers. The general understandings, concepts, and strategies gained by merely reading it will aid the reader in “making it” in his own career. With little information on which to base our decisions, we are continually trying to decide and manage how to move through the organization to some advantage. The comparative analysis afforded by this book just naturally leads one to an applied sociological perspective.

For the sociologist, this reader may have several benefits. Teachers may use it simply as a body of information on work careers. But they may also use it for teaching students the techniques of comparative analysis and of generating theory from data.2  Sociologists (students and teachers alike) will find the comparative materials a stimulant and guide to scholarship and research on organizational careers. The comparisons will lead the sociologist to develop relevant categories, hypotheses, and problems and to discover important gaps in our knowledge of particular organizational careers and in our budding theories. The end result, we trust, will be the stimulation to develop more formal theory for various aspects of organizational careers.

Lastly, this reader will indicate how, in many instances, the analysis of organizations can be usefully accomplished through a theory of careers of its members. The properties of their organizational careers are prime determinants of the behaviour of the people who man the organization. This is, however, a neglected topic in most sociological analyses and descriptions of organizations. The focus of explanations of behaviour is typically upon goals and work expectations, authority and power structures, rational decision-making, efficiency demands, and working conditions. Organizational careers appear to be too sensitive or taboo a topic to acknowledge as a determinant of a man’s behaviour, with its subsequent effect on the organization. Perhaps the self-interest it implies as motivation behind behaviour, which is presumably in the service of the organization, is not supposed to be acknowledged.

Furthermore, the articles published in this volume only describe, by and large, various aspects of a career. The concept of “organizational career” is itself seldom used in them as a way of describing the organization as a social structure or explaining organizational behaviours, problems, or facts. If employed in this way, a theory of organizational careers would itself be a very relevant tool by which to analyze organizations.3

PART I: Toward a Theory of Organizational Careers

A general theory of organizational careers can be aided by initial formulations from the “classic” articles in this section on careers in general. These articles come from successive generations of sociologists who, because of their training and/or teachings at the University of Chicago, have been stimulated to take up the topic of careers in their research, scholarship, and thought. In these articles we find many basic dimensions and problems of careers which provide a general perspective helpful to guiding the comparative analyses necessary to generating and integrating the various aspects of a theory of organizational careers. Further, they provide a general focus on careers of all kinds which show the context for our more delimited focus on “organizational careers.”

An organizational career is one type of status-passage (see in this volume, Career and Office, Everett C. Hughes). It is a passage from one status to another through the type of social structure frequently called by sociologists either an “organization,” a “formal organization,” a “complex organization,” or a “bureaucracy.” This career is linked with the organization either by a job in which the person receives the work of the organization or by a client position provided by the organization-patient, customer, consumer, and so on. In this reader, we consider only articles on job-related organizational careers; with one exception (see in this volume, Internship Appointments of Medical Students, William A. Glaser).

A formal theory of organizational careers should consider several interrelated central units of analysis: the person having the career, other people associated with the person, the career itself, the organization, and the society (or its sector) in which the organization exists. Consideration of these units in analyzing a particular career is always, of course, subject to their particular relevance. However, the formal theory must consider them in order to guide analyses that make any particular unit relevant.

From the point of view of the person, several basic aspects of organizational careers emerge in the articles of this section. Some organizational careers advance persons to different-usually more skilled-work; some merely advance the career while the work stays the same; and some make the work easier or less skilled while advancing the career. There is no necessarily direct relation between the career and the kind of work involved at each stage. It depends of the type of career offered by the type of organization. Organizational careers guide the person into kinds of interpretations, perspectives, or powers, rights, and privileges, and his identity, and they guide others’ appraisals of the person on these dimensions (see Hughes). Further, the organizational career structures, at each stage, the various people within and outside the organization that a person will work and associate with. At each stage of his career the person faces new organizational (and family) concerns which tend to vary his motivation for continuing the career and his loyalty and a turning point in his work life and identity, some being relatively incidental and some being traumatic, requiring transitional periods and occasioning choices about leaving the organization or taking an alternative career direction within the organization.

The organizational career literally moves the person through the organizational structure or freezes him in one place. Thus several facets of organizational mobility must be considered for a theory of organizational careers (see in this volume, Careers, Personality, and Adult Socialization, Becker & Strauss). To what degree is the career clearly ordered, and stages and rates of advancement and promotions routinized? Sometimes the career must literally be created by the person having it as he goes along. Careers will vary in the clarity of definition of each stage or rank and how people are led to expect the next direction in their career – they may be moved up, down, sideways, or kept in place. These attributes of career vary in terms of the size of the organization, its general stability, whether and how it is changing, and whether it moves people along individually or by cohorts (all together) at one’s particular stage or for one’s group. We must discover theory for how people start their careers moving when blocked, stimulate promotions, prevent or refuse changes in their position, avoid undesirable positions or demotions when they cannot “keep up,” gauge their career timetables (see in this volume, The Study of Career Timetables, Julian A. Roth) and compare them to other people’s, handle the uncertainties of movement through the organizational career, become sponsored, give up the career, develop possessiveness or proprietary rights over positions which they must sometimes be talked or forced into vacating, switch careers on the wave of their movements, move between organizations, and so forth.

From the point of view of the organization, the following articles highlight several basic concerns linked with organizational careers. In order to keep itself manned, the organization must continually fill positions through recruitment and replacement. Recruitment usually refers to filling positions at the beginning of the career, but it can also refer to bringing in people from the outside to all levels. “Recruitment programs” refer to the beginning and highlight the continual need of the organizations for new, young people, ranging from those who are highly trained to severely unskilled. Replacement usually refers to the filling of vacated positions, which occurs for several reasons that relate to movements of people in their careers. The organizational problem is how to manage existing turnover, how to plan, generate, and procedurally order succession between positions, and, once people are moved between positions, how to train and help them take over their new responsibilities. The organization must also establish procedures (however codified or surreptitious) for filling highly skilled positions, and for severing people from the organizational career- retiring or firing them. In resolving these problems in some fashion, the organization provides a broad shape and style of career for its people, several patterns of interdependence between careers, a context (often shifting) for these careers, and a ground for routinizing careers, for starting new careers, and for differentiating old careers into several new ones.

The organizational career has several relationships with society (see in this volume, Careers, Lifestyles, and Social Integration, Harold L. Wilensky). Many people in various sectors of society are untouched by organizational careers in their own work. Some people just find non-organizational work as their condition. Others vehemently look for these sectors of society and work in them exclusively. But since ours is a society whose principal institutions are run by complex organizations, these people must in their current, daily rounds deal of necessity with others in the midst of their own organizational career-a contingency strongly influencing many dealings.

The organizational career provides for people a stability in life plan, style and cycle, engendering their motivation to work. This stability is one of the sources of a stable organization and thus leads to stability in the organizational sectors of society. This stability is clearly seen in the continuity of employment, style, and plan of life in the governmental sectors of civil service and the military. It is also felt in the instability effects of society of transient and temporary work and of undesirable workers for which careers are non-existent. The educational institutions of our society are devoted to providing stable numbers of people to fill career positions of importance to organizations that firmly integrate society. Organizational careers also, however, force upon vast numbers of people a residential mobility that generates problems of stability for many facets of society, such as transportation, record-keeping, ownership, financial responsibility, community involvement, and so forth. Clearly the facets of organizational careers that relate to society are in need of much research and theory development. This reader does not provide much on this subject.

To move toward a formal theory of organizational careers we must generate many theories on the many aspects of organizational careers in relation to people, the organization, and society. As these are developed they become integrated, however tightly or loosely, and represent a general formal theory. The articles in this section merely open up pathways to research and theory development.

The remainder of the book presents articles on several of the current foci of studies of organizational careers: recruitment, motivation, loyalty, promotion, demotion, succession, moving between organizations, and career patterns. These articles provide the beginning grist for a comparative analysis designed to generate formal theory for these problems. However central these problems are, there are doubtless many more of high relevance upon which we have little to no research and theory. The articles in this book provide many leads to these other relevant areas or organizational careers by their text and, importantly, by their lack of generality of scope which indicate the neglected gaps in our knowledge of subjects relevant to the study and theory or organizational careers. The task remains for sociologists to start discovering grounded theories on aspects of organizational careers for integration into a formal theory.

PART II: Recruitment to Organizational Careers

There are two points of view to consider in generating theory on the recruitment of people to an organizational career. One is the view of the person recruited – how he appraises the organization, its career and his prospects within it. The other is that of the organization – how it proceeds to screen and decide upon what people to hire or otherwise bring into the organization and under what conditions it might try them out.

Recruitment begins with the process by which the organization or the recruit reaches the other (see in this volume, Recruitment of Industrial Scientists, Simon Marcson; Procedures of Academic Recruitment, Theodore Caplow & Reece J. McGee; Recruitment of Wall Street Lawyers, Erwin O. Smigel). The organization might actively go out looking for recruits, usually with the image of the “right type” of man (social background, values, style, education, and so forth) for the job and the organization. They might tap the resources of third parties (people or organizations) that specialize in (as well as, perhaps, engage in for personal reasons- for example, a sponsor) mating recruits and organizations. The organization may go to employment agencies, placement bureaus, referral systems, alumni organizations, or noted sponsors; ask influential clients; seek recruits through personal contacts; and so forth. These third parties put them in touch with the “right” potential recruits, thus providing initial screenings and narrowing their field of choice (see in this volume, Recruiting Volunteers, David Sills). The need of the organization for quantity and/or quality in recruits directs them to the various kinds of third parties. For example, sponsors put them in touch with the quality person, employment agencies with large numbers of lesser skilled people.

Organizations also develop their own programs for reaching recruits directly. They might advertise in journals and newspapers or other media. They may employ public relations firms to guide their advertising. They form hiring departments which start recruitment programs such as visiting college campuses or high schools, interviewing students, and inviting possible recruits with the appropriate social background to come to the organization for a talk (Smigel). They develop procedures for “baiting” recruits, at the right moment in their lives, with favourable images of the organizational career. They highlight its most socially favoured, if not its most general goal, and its “great” working conditions. They use current myths to reinforce the prestige of belonging to the organization. They offer the recruit potential association with favoured models- a general, a scientist, an outstanding executive, a famous lawyer- to encourage him with this form of subtle training for advancement. They may also offer him post-hiring education. They figure out limited ways of hiring the recruit, such as with one-year contracts, initial rotating assignments, options, clear temporary or try-out periods, or no commitments, in order to keep him in the recruiting process for a few years to see if he is really worth taking into the organization for a particular type of career. Thus the recruit may not just be hired, but brought into the organization gradually.

Recruitment is then a process going on for a period of time both inside and outside the boundaries of the organization. It is a process of screening, wooing, and eliminating before the career actually starts. It might vary from being a fairly simple process of solicitation and short test period to, as in the cases of academic organizations and law firms, a highly elaborated process, sometimes requiring time and effort seemingly far beyond what the particular requirements of the position and person would seem to demand.

Elaborate procedures of recruitment, focused on “choosing the right man” or making sure that no one who gets as far as an interview on organizational premises is later refused a job, have other vital consequences. These procedures involve large numbers of others in the organization, whose careers will be interdependent with that of the recruit (Caplow & McGee). These others will know that they have been consulted, have had some say and commitment to a decision, and can protest if comparative discrepancies in the organizational career offered to the recruit might cause personal or general morale problems. Other organizations, such as the army, simply ignore the wishes and problems of other members who will have interdependent careers with the recruit. Fitness for these positions is arrived at on the basis of objective, technical criteria, not on subtle, personal, and organizationally sensitive ones embodied in elaborate procedures.

Another condition affecting recruitment procedures is how easy will it be to get rid of people who do not work out. This condition influences how important it is to screen and try out recruits. Some organizations can never fire or “lay off” a person once the career has started. Other organizations can simply ask the man to leave. Yet others must go through an extended “edging out” process.

Organizations must also contend with their position among other organizations in the competitive market for recruits. Sometimes their procedures must work very fast to win out in intense competition. Other times they have months to decide, even if the competition is stiff.

The organization must also screen people for its future as well as its current requirements and provide images of careers that entice recruits into a long-range or short-range view of possible commitment. Thus some recruits will plan on becoming executives in later years, and others will plan on a short stint for experience and their record before moving on to a more permanent career.

The recruit might actively go out and seek entrance to organizational careers by applying at personnel offices and going to placement agencies. He may also ask friends, make visits to strategic people, and drop the word that he is available into the “right” grapevine or referral systems. Of course, finding the latter two might be difficult, impossible, or a simple matter, depending on the type of career of the recruit and his current location in the organizational world. It is often hard to negotiate a rise from lower prestige organizations to higher ones.

Recruits from educational institutions might be routinely listed in placement bureaus. This source of third party might be the approved method for becoming recruited. It might also be a residual source of poorer careers, and hinder receiving the best chances if they come only through private, informal sponsorship channels. Depending on his previous educational institution, the recruit may or may not have to be active in seeking a start in an organization. Graduates from the best universities might have to be active and gracious in putting off too many offers from recruiters that come to campus; graduates from other educational institutions might simply go through placement bureau channels with no stigma attached; or they might be just cast free to find a job (for example, trade school graduates).

After contact with an organization the recruit may have to jockey for and then negotiate his offer, if the organization allows such space. This “offer space” is usually found in organizations with higher skilled careers that compete with other organizations. Workers’ careers usually start with a flat “take it or leave it” offer that the union has negotiated. The recruit may have to make a decision about his occupational career at the same time that he selects an organization, or his career status may automatically be fixed as a consequence of being hired for a job.

The decision to accept the organizational career will also include considering anticipated consequences for family life, ability to moonlight, kinds of colleagues and need for colleagues (stimulating, none, no chance for contact with them, etc. [Riesman]) and probable type of career (how routinized, how rapid advancement in position and salary can be). The recruit may anticipate consequences from the described working conditions, responsibilities, and kind of identity he will receive and feel; from juxtaposing organizational with personal goals; from the size, kind, and prestige of the organization; and so forth.

Many of these anticipations may be inaccurate because of lack of experience and knowledge both generally and specifically with the organization and because of the belief in the “baiting” recruitment rhetoric of the organization. But, however accurate or inaccurate the anticipations, the recruit will usually find – some months after joining the organization – that because of the experience and knowledge he gains, the reasons for which he started the career are not the reasons he stays with the career.

Theory on recruitment processes of organizational careers may usefully begin being generated along the lines of these general categories and properties obtained from comparative analysis of the following articles. Surely we must also discover the relationship of these processes to societies that depend upon the organizational careers of large numbers of people for stability, growth and change.

PART III: Career Motivations within the Organization

Career motivations never quite stand still. The shifting in direction and objects of motivations is accounted for by the changing conditions of organizational life and begins upon entering the organization. The career motivations that lead to recruitment may change once the person becomes involved in the organizational career. The major condition that changes the objects of career motivations is the person’s stage of career with its associated problems and contingencies. He may be at the stage where many prospects for advancement stimulate him into working hard and striving for a better position. He may have arrived at “a” top or be levelled off before reaching this limit. This condition generates motivations to hold down a position until retirement, slow down work (if safe), or look elsewhere for a different career. When his performance is judged poor by others, he may lack advancement or be demoted, which is likely to undercut his motivation to work hard and continue pursuing the organizational career.

As the person advances, his motivations to achieve certain goals of the organization are continually being modified by current and changing associations with people in and outside the organization and by his increased knowledge about the organization’s activities and rewards systems (see in this volume, The Recruitment of Industrial Scientists, Simon Marcson). He revises the “best” goals to pursue for a person at his stage. For example, while young his goals may focus on the basic work of the organization. Later they may (and typically do) become administrative goals and perhaps empire building. New goals of work and career may be literally forced on him, forcing a shift in motivations. Truly the person’s motivations toward work, goals, and career levels and movements must keep up with his career as it changes. If they do not, he will be out of line with where he is and what is expected of him. This condition makes him with where he is and which is expected of him. This condition makes him liable to the dissatisfactions that come with discrepancies, between what he expects and what he is supposed to expect and will, in fact, obtain among the alternative career directions and top levels available to him at this stage.

The diversity of kinds of specific careers and their associated work and goals varies with the size and kind of organization. The person’s abilities, training, and sponsors condition how many of these career options he may be able to take. These factors, by providing opportunity, engender the motivation necessary to take them. The army, for example, has many diverse kinds of specific working careers for its members to pursue. These are distinctive, associated motivations, as admirably summarized by Kornhauser (see in this volume, Professional Incentives in Industry, William Kornhauser), which occur no matter what is entailed in the person’s work and organization.

The person may be seeking an organizational career of service to people, organization, and/or country, whether he is a highly trained professional, an expert, or merely a willing worker. The service career may range from a missionary to fee-for-service career with consequent variation in motivations. The person may be a careerist (see in this volume, Careerist Types, Harold L. Wilensky; Military Career Motivations, Morris Janowitz), seeking only to reach the top of the hierarchy, as constituted, as fast as possible in order to have power and control and to better his general social condition and rank. He may be motivated principally toward a professional career among colleagues, wherever they may be found in the world, using the organization as only a base of operations. He may seek a simple organizational career of constant work with financial and job security, whether white or blue collar. This career is trimmed with modest aspirations, if any to lower or middle level supervisory positions, which motivations themselves can become easily cooled off by lack of promotion and opportunity (see in this volume, The Chronology of Aspirations of Automobile Workers, Ely Chinoy). In these careers, seniority and its security benefits provide movement and the motivated goals; unless seniority ends in loss of current position and salary in a particular organization (see in this volume, Aspirations of Telephone Workers, Joel Seidman et al.). The person may have no career motivations and simply flounder around between jobs within and between organizations; oblivious to or ignorant of the career each job might offer him.

Motivation toward these various types of careers may be initially generated from boyhood ambitions, current social values, religion, geographical regions linked with rural and urban values, more recognized kinds of success, and goals of various professional, educational, and trade schools, before being modified by colleagues and arrangements within the organization. Therefore, the modification that occurs after joining the organization is a result of past motivations and present shiftings occurring within the organizational career.

Since career motivations are ever-shifting, it is apparent to organizations that motivations can be molded to suit their requirements of a proportionate distribution of people into various types of careers. Their tool is to develop incentive or reward systems to keep the motivations for particular careers at constant levels of intensity. By this maneuver they maintain the division of labor relatively intact even as it is changing. Organizations may also carefully recruit people from a sector of society or particular educational institutions with the right motivation for careers (the sons of officers get commissions readily in the army). They also may develop indoctrination programs of a great variety to instill a necessary kind of motivation in the person beginning a career. Some organizations regularly send their men back to schools (colleges or in-service schools) for re-indoctrination on the prime goals of the organization and their associated career potentials.

Sometimes, as a way of controlling its members’ motivations to work hard and thereby move ahead in the career, organizations will develop elaborate hierarchies for advancement (see in this volume, Prestige Grading: A form of control, Carl Dreyfuss). These hierarchies can even be artificial in the sense of not corresponding to the division of work and its relative evaluations on skill and prestige. This excessive gradation keeps employees scrambling in the competition for advances and benefits of the organizational career instead of relaxing and grouping for confrontations with higher management on working conditions. If employees realize what is happening, it dampens their motivation to pursue a career that gets them nowhere.

Another way of controlling its members’ motivations (at the other end of the gradation range) is to offer to most employees a career at one organizational level with slight salary increases for seniority. Thus, from the start, their aspirations are cooled down and they learn to pursue the one goal of their job and hope they last long enough for salary increments.

In any event, whether careers are spoken of in general or specific types, motivations toward career and work are intimately linked. Sometimes they are discernibly different and alternatively boost each other, with incentive systems for work that hold out career movements as rewards and career rewards that set the person up for new work. Sometimes they are virtually the same -to work for one’s career is to do what the organization wants (for example, basic research). A formal theory of careers must lead to describing, understanding, and accounting for these relations in career and work motivations.

PART IV: Loyalty and Commitment to the Organizational Career

As we have seen in the last section, there is one type of organizational career motivation that has received considerable attention in research and theory development – the person’s loyalty or commitment to the organization. This loyalty is profoundly affected by how he perceives the organization as a base for his career. The following articles present some of the research and theory development on this subject.

Several conditions affect the person’s loyalty to his organization. One major condition is whether the person is an expert or professional who is motivated to have a career as such among colleagues, such as a career “in science” or “in law”. The problem then becomes to what degree, if at all, he is devoted to his current organizational base and its career. Some expert or professionals may feel no loyalty or commitment to the organization, so devoted are they to a professional career which transcends the boundaries of all organizations. They are called “cosmopolitans,” in distinction to “locals,” who are devoted mostly to the organizational career (see in this volume, Cosmopolitans and Locals, Alvin W. Gouldner). The organization may need such experts and simply put up with their lack of commitment and turnover, knowing that as they get older, more of them will be likely to become involved in their particular organizational career.

Many structural conditions, however, engender a “local-cosmopolitanism” among organizational and professional careers. One is how many alternatives they have for moving to other organizations. Only by having opportunities to move to other organizations of equal or higher caliber can an expert be oblivious in commitment to his current organizational career. Without these opportunities he cannot realistically transcend his organization’s boundaries in pursuing a career. Lack of alternatives elsewhere becomes a condition for developing loyalty to an organization and commitment to a career within it. This condition obtains even though groups of colleagues elsewhere are still used as reference groups on matters of profession. Two conditions restricting opportunities for other organizations are: (1) the fact that there are no better or more prestigious organizations to move to at the expert’s level of career; and (2) the fact that the expert’s performance would not allow a move to an equal or better organization with an advance in rank.

The former condition particularly applies to people in the top levels of their career in the “best” of the organizations available. Moving elsewhere becomes a moot question. Their local-cosmopolitanism is usually focused on empire building and running their current organization to suit their needs for compatible working conditions (see in this volume, Career Concerns and Footholds in the Organization, B.G. Glaser; The Expansion Orientation of Supervisors of Research, B.G. Glaser). These people have been rewarded for successful work at several stages of their careers by their current organization; and they have overcome several organizational obstacles to reaching the top of their career (see in this volume, Career Mobility and Organizational Commitment, Oscar Grusky). For these career rewards they have provided the organization with hard work and prestige by the expertise. The result is a “deepening involvement” process, by which a cosmopolitan becomes a committed local as he grows within the organizational career.

The latter condition-where performance does not warrant an advantageous move- arises for experts that are in the beginning or middle stages of their careers. For them to move may easily involve a loss in organizational prestige and perhaps a loss in career level. They must work hard to stay where they are and hold their own in competition for advancement. Thus their cosmopolitanism becomes readily infused with local commitment because this is how they have to “make it,” unless they change their type of work or go to a less prestigeful organization.

Another condition making cosmopolitans into local-cosmopolitans is the normal acculturation process of learning to work in the organization (see in this volume, Enculturation in Industrial Research, Robert W. Avery; Career Development of Scientists, Simon Marcson). As the beginning expert tries to learn what is expected of him in practicing his expertise, he starts focusing on organizational goals and problems: he learns to do what will be locally rewarded; he learns how an expert in his field makes it in the organization; and he starts enjoying organizational career rewards. As a result of this continuing process of partially working on organizational goals, and consulting with others more devoted to the organization than he, he is brought around to organizational thinking without realizing it and becomes a local in this measure. If the organization’s goals are divergent with the expert’s professional goals, the expert is clearly developing a commitment to both a professional and an organizational career, with some ensuing built-on conflict. If the organization’s goals are the same as the professional goals involved, then the expert’s organizational career is “the” way of having a professional career. And though we may view him as a local-cosmopolitans, he may simply feel that he is only professionally oriented- a cosmopolitan- and that loyalty to the organization which provides a synonymous professional and organizational career is part of this professional orientation.

In the study of loyalty and commitment to organizations the sociologist should always be sensitive to what levels(s) of the organization the person is committed or loyal (see in this volume, Career Concerns and Footholds in the Organization, B.G. Glaser; The Expansion Orientation of Supervisors of Research, B.G. Glaser; Reference Groups and Loyalties in the Out-Patient Department, Warren G. Bennis, N. Berkowitz, M. Affinito & M. Mabre). To focus only on the total organization as the unit of loyalty is to neglect those who are loyal only to particular work groups, departments, wards, branches, institutes, or other units within the organization, while feeling no loyalty (or even antagonism) to the organization itself. From the point of view of the total organization, it might not matter to which and how many levels of its structure a person is loyal. Loyalty to one level may be enough to ensure hard work and striving for the appropriate organizational career. Further, these structural levels of focus for loyalty are bound to change as the person rises in his career.

The non-expert in an organization may appear after more research to be a somewhat simpler case of loyalty to the career. Not having any strong occupational reference groups outside the organization, he will probably be a devoted local working his way up in the organizational career. If not, he will be either oblivious to his possible career within the organization or looking for a change to another organization for personal preferences.

Also, an employee’s career, if at the lower levels of the organization, may require little in the way of loyalty except responsible attendance and continued employment to prevent the organizational headache: “turnover.” Then the less loyalty the better for the organization when it must, according to changing conditions, lay off, demote, or discard workers. Loyalty to lower and middle levels by non-expert employees seems to take a temporal form. The organization requires them to speak and work in the interests of the company against all possible intrusions merely while on the job-for example, the sales lady, clerk, or secretary.

Obviously the following articles indicate a narrow view of research to date on loyalty and its relation to organizational careers-narrow in the sense of problems posed and an over-focus on experts. We need a more general approach in research to generate a grounded theory of loyalty to the organizational career.


2 For the latter two purposes, we suggest that it be used in conjunction with Glaser and Strauss (1967).
3 For an example of this type of organizational analysis, see Strauss, A., Schatzman, L., Bucher, R., Ehrlich, D., & Sabshin, M. (1964). Psychiatric ideologies and institutions. New York: Free Press of Glencoe.


Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. New York: Aldine.