Chapter | Handbook of Career Studies | 2007

Career Patterns and Organizational Performance

by Monica C. Higgins and James R. Dillon


Traditional research on careers examines how organizations and individuals affect career outcomes. This chapter reviews several specific ways in which career histories have been found to influence organizational outcomes. While we incorporate both upper echelons research and insights from other streams of research that bear on senior executive mobility, we also examine emerging research that takes a finer-grained look at careers as patterns of experience that influence organizations and their industries. We suggest several mechanisms that link executive career histories to organizational outcomes: (1) the strategic decision-making process of management teams (affected by the diversity of its members' career backgrounds); (2) the substance or resources that executives carry with them (including human capital, such as international or industry experience, and social capital, such as relationships with potential investors or clients); and (3) the signals that prestigious career histories send to external constituencies, such as potential investors, creditors, and alliance partners. We end the chapter with three directions for future research: studying dynamic career patterns, the influence of key organization members outside a firm's upper echelon, and the symbiotic relationship between careers and organizations.

Keywords: Organizations; Personal Development and Career; Performance;


Higgins, Monica C., and James R. Dillon. "Career Patterns and Organizational Performance." Chap. 21 in Handbook of Career Studies, edited by M. Peiperl and H. Gunz, 422–436. Sage Publications, 2007.