New Career Models in UK Professional Service Firms: From Up-or-Out to Up-and-Going Nowhere?

Malhotra, Namrata, Morris, Tim and Smets, Michael (2010) New Career Models in UK Professional Service Firms: From Up-or-Out to Up-and-Going Nowhere? The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 21 (9). pp. 1396-1413.

Abstract

In this paper, we empirically examine how professional service firms are adapting their promotion and career models to new market and institutional pressures, without losing the benefits of the traditional up-or-out tournament. Based on an in-depth qualitative study of 10 large UK based law firms we find that most of these firms do not have a formal up-or-out policy but that the up-or-out rule operates in practice. We also find that most firms have introduced alternative roles and a novel career policy that offers a holistic learning and development deal to associates without any expectation that unsuccessful candidates for promotion to partner should quit the firm. While this policy and the new roles formally contradict the principle of up-or-out by creating permanent non-partner positions, in practice they coexist. We conclude that the motivational power of the up-or-out tournament remains intact, notwithstanding the changes to the internal labour market structure of these professional service firms.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Careers; Professional service firms; Tournament promotions
Subject(s): Professional services
Corporate reputation
Centre: Centre for Professional Firms
Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation
Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2012 21:09
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:07
URI: http://eureka.sbs.ox.ac.uk/id/eprint/2647

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