Careers develop. They write a story, i.e. they cannot be planned and are, therefore, particularly interesting for meta-theoretical considerations about organisational dynamics. If you look closely, you can see that career is shaped and regulated in all three sense dimensions.
- In the factual dimension, careers compete for limited positions. The higher the hierarchy, the scarcer they become. Access to positions is always dependent upon what the respective person has acquired in the way of career assets in their working life. What can be presented in the way of knowledge, responsibility, successes etc.? In addition, a lucky opportunity is needed, which ‘frees up’ the desired position at the suitable moment.
- In the social dimension, careers are rooted in the structures and rules of the personnel selection procedures. Their decision-making procedures – assessments, interviews etc. – limit the arbitrary possibilities, which, through ‘relationships’ of the applicant to the decision-maker, is always possible. Patronage and favouritism decisions are socially observed and are drawn into the career planning (“Who do I need to know?”, “Who should I befriend?!).
- In the time dimension, careers are a sustained reference point for attention in organisations. As careers are the coupling mechanisms between the individual and the organisation, many different decisions are examined to see how they influence the careers of the affected parties in the future, what present day opportunities open up or are destroyed and what events in the past emerge as good career moves.
There can be no organisation, in which its communication does not also occupy itself with careers, because organisations differ internally, and involve different positions, responsibilities, jurisdictions, functions and decision-making rights. At least this is the case while people work there, who are psychologically dependent upon shaping their identity to the description of that which they do.