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Only for external transitions the inclusion of cross-level interaction does not improve the model fit indicating that the interaction between time and age can be ignored due to insignificance. The best fitted models have been chosen to test Hypotheses 1 to 3a and 3b for job transitions in general as well as for internal and external transitions. This frequency is only slightly higher than for lower qualified white-collar workers in West Germany 8.

Female qualified employees show a different pattern in job transitions than male colleagues. They generally report higher frequencies of job transitions over the years. This holds true for both internal and external transitions. While female internal transition rates have declined from 8. We will first present the general model findings JJ-Trans, left column before we go more into detail by separating the internal Int-Trans, middle column and external transitions Ext-Trans, right column. Also the age of the qualified employees shows a significant impact on the probability of job transitions.

Put differently, the probability of a job transition is reduced by 8. Controlling for sex, the data show a higher frequency of job transitions for qualified female employees 1. This evidence is not moderated by the course of time. Besides the volatile pattern of job transition rates over the years, different developments for internal and external transitions are striking. We have conducted identical analyses for both of these subordinated dependent variables. The differentiation uncovers a distinct negative trend over time for internal transitions while the frequency of external transitions has only slightly increased.

This main result contradicts the widespread implicit assumption of increasing dynamics in qualified professional and managerial careers, but it confirms a development towards more inter-organizational movements and shrinking internal labor markets. Contrary to the impact of time, the same and the previous year's economic cycles do not affect internal, but only external transitions. Independently of macro-effects, age remains a major regressor. Proportion of job transitions among professional and managerial employees in West Germany from to At the beginning we posed two questions.

As far as the universality of increasing change and job transitions is concerned, our results suggest that the overall level of job transitions among professional and managerial employees in Germany has in fact slightly declined between and This is the result of the interplay of internal transitions which have clearly decreased and slightly increasing external transitions. When taken in isolation, both dimensions of physical mobility point in a direction congruent with this mainstream careers theory, but their interplay suggests quite the opposite.

The decrease in internal job transitions indicates shrinking internal, intra-organizational labor markets. Downsizing, delayering and vertical disintegration have truncated the room for internal transitions, especially for highly qualified professionals cp. Delayering also provides an explanation for the perceived cross-level moderator effect of time. Especially middle management with an overrepresentation of younger and middle-aged qualified employees is affected by delayering while elderly professionals are less affected Littler et al.

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This development is not leveled out by the slight increase in external transitions. Indeed, recent findings from the German language area point towards a revival of, or even a sustained attractiveness of more traditional career aspirations. In a similar vein, an analysis of career expectations in Germany between and shows no tendency towards an increased preference for post-organizational career arrangements Kattenbach et al.

Arguably, contextual developments like the Russia crisis in or the so-called financial crisis in have left their footprint on the career motivations of contemporary individuals.


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Beyond the lack of increase in the number of job transitions in Germany, the importance of the economic cycle for explaining variations in the level of job transitions supports the need for a contextualized perspective in career studies. We agree with Biemann et al. Another study with a German sample, based on retrospective information on employment histories, found a significant impact of economic growth on inter-organizational mobility as well Biemann et al. This fosters the call for comparative career studies with an international or even an inter-continental perspective. Comparing Europe and North America, one should note that the respective business cycles themselves follow different cycle dynamics e.

Furthermore the link between the business cycle and labor market may differ in Germany and the US, as labor law in Germany attenuates the business cycle effects, for example by strong protection of employee rights in the case of losing one's job. As a caveat, an alternative explanation for the general decline in internal changes can be a changed understanding of job transitions themselves.

While we have conceptualized an internal job change as any essential change in task or duty, respondents may interpret an internal job change as a clear move onto a different position with a different job title, even if a promotion is not implied. In this vein, Inkson noted that the number of professionals who declared a change in duties steadily increased from 2. Jobs became more flexible and diverse.

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This could be an explanation for not interpreting job transitions as an internal transition nowadays, because the transition is not regarded as a change in jobs, but rather a change in tasks. Respondents are asked whether they experienced a job change in the last year. Only in the case of confirmation do the respondents have to differentiate between internal change and external change. The questions and their order thus impede the respondents from considering whether changes in their duties are actually a change in their job. Hence, we assume that the low number of internal changes found in the GSOEP may under-represent intra-organizational mobility.

This is supported by findings which report higher internal change-rates e.

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Thus the absolute numbers should be judged with caution. Yet, even after taking this caveat into account, there is no reason to suppose that there was a strong increase in the number of overall job transitions during the time span analyzed. Qualified employees in West Germany change jobs about every 8.

However, as far as the underlying basic change assumption is concerned, we concede that although change takes place, its extent is overestimated. Indeed, Germany's past is in certain aspects different from the present, illustrated e. Yet there are areas of stability as well. Future research should, therefore, focus on a more elaborate comparison of the interplay between country, institutional and cultural context, industry, and organizational and individual characteristics to draw a more nuanced picture of developments in career patterns over time. Also, further analyses of the explanatory power of economic growth for different age groups are needed.

Preliminary analyses have shown that the GDP has a strong effect on job mobility for young and advanced qualified employees, but not for seniors Schneidhofer et al. Moreover, an expansion of the research design to various groups of employees arranged according to e. Our results provide support for a critical view on the largely unquestioned acceptance of the assertion that there are increasingly dynamic careers with more frequent job transitions among qualified employees.

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Yet, it cautions researchers neither to generalize too much from observations of specific groups of individuals in specific regions of the world for whom new careers may be a reality, nor to universalize the concept by applying it to diverse cultural and institutional environments. Furthermore, our findings support a call for more comparative research in careers as realized e.

National Center for Biotechnology Information , U. Sponsored Document from. J Vocat Behav.

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Thomas M. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Ralph Kattenbach: nc. Received Aug This document may be redistributed and reused, subject to certain conditions. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract By examining trends in intra-organizational and inter-organizational job transition probabilities among professional and managerial employees in Germany, we test the applicability of mainstream career theory to a specific context and challenge its implied change assumption. Introduction Since the mids, Western societies have been witnessing changes in the organization of work, careers, and employment relations.

The following variables have been considered to test our hypotheses: Job transitions. Males Females Job trans. Job trans. Open in a separate window. Baseline na na na na 2. Level 1 var Discussion At the beginning we posed two questions. Conclusion Our results provide support for a critical view on the largely unquestioned acceptance of the assertion that there are increasingly dynamic careers with more frequent job transitions among qualified employees.

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Careers around the World: Individual and Contextual Perspectives

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