The dynamics of interorganizational careers

Matthew Bidwell, Forrest Briscoe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

107 Scopus citations


How do workers build careers across organizations? We propose that increased worker mobility means that workers may now build their careers using interorganizational career ladders, working in certain kinds of organizations earlier in a career and in other kinds of organizations later in the career. We develop a matching framework that predicts such interorganizational moves based on how systematic changes in workers' needs and resources over the course of their careers alter the kinds of organizations they will best match. We specifically propose that workers will be more likely to work for organizations that provide more training early in their careers, and work for organizations that have higher demands for skills later in their careers. We use this argument to make three broad predictions: first, that interorganizational transitions are more likely to take place from larger to smaller workplaces, and into organizations in industries that employ a higher proportion of workers in the focal occupation; second, that such skill-based career paths are more common where the labor market provides more opportunities that reward those skills; and third, that the nature of external opportunities will disproportionately affect turnover from organizations on the lower rungs of the career ladder. Data from the career histories of college-educated information technology workers support our hypotheses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1034-1053
Number of pages20
JournalOrganization Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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