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Encyclopedia of Technology and Innovation Management by Gina Colarelli O'Connor, V. K. Narayanan

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Chapter 22. Dual Career Ladders in Organizations

Christy H. Weer[21] and Jeffrey H. Greenhaus[22]

Organizations with dual career ladders provide technical employees with alternative opportunities for organizational advancement. Technical professionals may choose to advance through one of two ladders—the management ladder or the technical ladder. Employees who wish to advance into management positions shift their focus from technical application to administration and leadership responsibilities. Those who choose to advance up the technical ladder continue to focus their efforts on increasingly difficult and important technical tasks. Ideally, both ladders provide similar career advancement opportunities and organizational rewards.

In essence, the goal of the dual-ladder system is to provide technical professionals with options for career development without limiting their career growth or income potential. The system is based on the notion that not all technical professionals have the desire (or the skills) to move into management, but want the status and rewards typically associated with management positions.

Dual-ladder career alternatives were designed in the 1970s in response to career development concerns among technical professionals. Employee attitude surveys indicated that many technical professionals were disappointed by a lack of career guidance and development. With little alternative for advancement, top technical performers often chose to be promoted out of technical jobs ...

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