The SWG's research domain and academic aims
Career is a dynamic concept that reflects multiple perspectives, including concepts and variables at many levels of analysis. At its root there is an interesting duality in that each career belongs to an individual and yet does not exist in a social vacuum. Careers provide meaning to individuals' lives, they provide social roles that reproduce societal norms, and careers are fundamental to organizations both locally and globally. Mutual influence and reciprocity are increasingly evident, and across multiple levels of analysis. The influence of the environment and of societal changes on career development and progression has been clearly demonstrated by the alteration to traditional patterns in recent years.
Studying organizations requires, among others, understanding careers within and across organizations. Beyond their importance for the individual and their development, organizations are influenced by individual career decisions as well as organizational structures and processes aiming at channelling the flow of people through the organization. Through their multi-level character and appeal as well as relevance to different scientific traditions, careers are the topic of a variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary discourses, most notably within and between academic disciplinary areas including sociology, economics, anthropology, psychology, etc. Given the importance of contextual factors, regional discourses have developed, too, most notably in North America, Europe, Asia, and the Pacific Rim region. Hence, the proposed topic is highly interdisciplinary and international.
Unfortunately, up to now careers as a topic has not been covered by any of the existing standing working groups (SWG) within EGOS and has found an ongoing institutional umbrella only in the North-American setting through the Careers Division of the Academy of Management. In Europe, there is no comparable organizational form. However, over the past decade the topic had a continuous and broad appeal to both participants and Colloquium organizers from a wide range of national and disciplinary background. Starting with Lyon, France in 2001, the sub-theme – carried through by a core group of scholars acting as revolving sub-theme organizers – has been present in every EGOS Colloquium (the exception being 2003 when for technical reasons no application was possible). The sub-themes have been very popular with 25–35 participants each year and an average acceptance rate originally of about 65%, although much lower in the last two to three years due to the high numbers of submissions. They have traditionally been highly participative and have encouraged new as well as established researchers to present diverse and innovative approaches to the study of career. The careers subtheme has successfully engaged people in ongoing and broad-reaching conversations that link scholars in particular from Europe, Asia and the Pacific, and North America.
Against this backdrop, we have applied for – and been granted – a SWG on 'Careers Within And Across Organizations' since such a SWG is not covered by other SWGs and we are convinced that it fits the EGOS criteria of making a substantial contribution to the advancement of organization studies, is highly international and interdisciplinary as well as in need of an organizational umbrella.
The organizing of the SWG
The SWG coordinators are linked by number of research activities which will be used in order to make sure that the SWG, its yearly program and the ongoing development are closely monitored. This will be done in person as well as through other forms of communication, in particular Skype-conference calls. The coordinators share among themselves ample experience in working together in international virtual research teams. All three SWG organizers have been actively involved in global conversations in careers research, particularly in Europe, Asia-Pacific and North American. They have been active participants and sub-theme conveners for many years, two of them also serving in other functions at EGOS. [Hugh Gunz was general secretary of EGOS while the secretariat was located at Manchester Business School in the 1980s; Wolfgang Mayrhofer was part of the local organizing team of the 23rd EGOS Colloquium 2007 in Vienna, Austria.]