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Executive career advancement

Final Activity Report Summary - ECA (Executive career advancement)

The proposed project had three main objectives. Each objective is labelled with a distinctive name: US CAREERS, EUROPEAN CAREERS (changed from Spanish careers), and MBA EDUCATION.

With regard to the US CAREERS project, the objective was to create three high-impact publications of the research on executive career advancement that the Researcher started at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

The first working paper looks at the important issue of attachment in the context of executive jobs, using a unique data set from a prominent executive search firm that identifies whether executives have declined or pursued offers of employment at other companies.

The second paper examines the career moves of executives between different organisations and looks at the characteristics of executives' employing organisations as a predictor of the outcome of the moves. It shows that the perceived operational excellence of executives' employing organisation strongly impacts the success of executives' moves across different organisations.

The third working paper looks at the effect of six types of stigmatising organisational events (criticism of the organization in the media, resignation of key individuals from the organization, downsizing, net income drop, lawsuits launched by the SEC, competitors and customers and lawsuits launched by employees) on the outcome of employees' career moves to another employer. From this, two of the working papers were published in Financial Times Top 40 peer-reviewed journals.

With regard to the EUROPEAN CAREERS PROJECT, the objective of this project was to extend the research described in the section on US CAREERS to a European context. The project analyses the career paths of the CEOs of the 500 largest corporations in Europe and the 500 largest in the United States and looks at how a range of factors - including age, educational background and career history and international experience - predicts success in the top echelon.

The first working paper looks at the relationship between the length and breadth of professionals' international experience, the type of employer commissioning the international assignment, the individual's career stage at the first assignment, and two aspects of career advancement: compensation level and the time executives took to be appointed to the CEO position from the start of their career. The results show that international experience does not speed the way to the top, longer assignments and a larger number of assignments being detrimental to executives' ascent to top corporate positions.

The second working paper examines whether frequent career moves across employers bring greater career rewards than moves inside the same organisation. On both continents, CEOs who have spent a smaller fraction of their career in their current organization, or have changed employers more often, have taken a longer time from the start of their career to be promoted to the most influential corporate positions. The labour market institutions in the twenty-three countries sampled do not influence the relationship between an external labour market strategy and career success.

Two working papers are under review at Financial Times top 40 journals. The third paper is published in the 2008 Spring issue of the European Business Forum. This project was extensively featured in the UK, German and Swiss business media.

With regard to the MBA EDUCATION project, its objective was to develop a 20-session elective course (syllabus and teaching materials) on executive career paths and career success for international MBA students at the Instituto de Empresa. As a result the course was taught in both the International MBA and International Executive MBA programs of the Instituto de Empresa.