Reaching the Promised Land or wandering in No Man's Land: promotions in professional organizations

Research output: Contribution to journalConference article


This study explores how professionals experience promotions as a critical event in their careers. Particularly, through an analysis of qualitative interviews and participant drawings, it investigates the experiences of lawyers as they are promoted to partnership in seven UK law firms. Drawing on a narrative approach, we contribute to existing literature in several ways. First, we present a more balanced picture of promotions embedded in the lived reality of professionals. Specifically, we show how feelings of achievement and career success co-exist with experiences of exhaustion and stagnation. Second, we show that promotions are characterized by mystery and secrecy due to their political nature and power plays, which over-shadow the role of official HR practices and processes. Third, we make methodological contributions to the study of professional work by making use of visual methods and by doing so present a different perspective on professional work.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Proceedings
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016

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