Inderscience Publishers

Event-driven careers for R&D professionals?

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Research and Development (R&D) professionals, particularly in High-Tech companies, need specific Human Resource Management practices. Their work environment is characterised by a low level of formalisation and a large number of interactions with the other functions. Conventional careers based on power and status within pyramidal organisations are not adapted to their situation. Dual ladders are often seen as a way of maintaining some feelings of prestige and status by substituting or adding to the reduced advancement opportunities other forms of recognition. Yet, the management of these ladders is difficult, particularly in contexts of fast changing technology. The study, based on in-depth interviews with 20 professionals, shows that their careers are more driven by specific events than following specific tracks or predetermined steps. Significant, often hazardous and unexpected events play a key role in determining their career changes. Social networks are also highly valued by researchers, both inside the organisation with their colleagues and supervisors, and externally with researchers belonging to other laboratories.

Keywords: R&, D professionals, research and development, careers, career mobility, events, social networks, high technology, HRM, human resources management, career changes, career orientations, career paths

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