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Title: A grounded theory study of how individuals work their way towards the executive company director position : balancing visibility and exposure within U.K. corporations
Author: Lines, David Peter
ISNI:       0000 0001 3610 642X
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2004
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This research was instigated primarily because the author became aware of the lack of research into the executive company director domain. Executive company directors' occupy the most senior positions within U.K. corporations and yet appear to remain one of the most under researched groups within this setting. This research used grounded theory as a methodology of choice to ask the question: How do individuals work their way towards the executive company director position. This main question guided the research towards the development of a model that offers a tentative explanation about the processes that affect the career trajectory of individuals making their way towards a company director post. Twenty-eight executive directors were interviewed for the research, five women and twenty-three men. Symbolic interactionism formed the sensitising framework with which the interview data were analysed in line with the constant comparative processes in grounded theory. The research findings indicated that the main psychosocial process that affects the career trajectory of potential executive directors appears to be the activities that are focused on 'balancing visibility and exposure'. The paradox that appears to be evident is that the closer a person is to the executive director position the greater the degree of exposure to risk for the individual concerned. The model described in this thesis is a three-phase model that encompasses, 'Forming a foundation', 'Developing and negotiating a route through the organisation', and 'Surfacing as a potential executive company director'. A number of categories that form an interactive processual representation of the career trajectory of individuals as they make their way towards the executive director role support these three phases. The findings indicate that the conditions under which individuals become executive directors may preclude a wider range of women and men than identified in the current 'glass ceiling' debate. This may result in a form of socialised discrimination that maintains the status quo of executive directors' career trajectories. This socialised discrimination may be based in the language structure of corporate work creating an organisational perspective of work that appraises the value of individuals' contribution to the corporation. The model and the discussion chapters will be of interest to professionals who are working in the following fields of practice, executive mentoring, human resource management, executive recruitment and retention, social scientists who are considering research in this arena, and potential executive directors who are considering an executive career and are currently working as executive directors. The model may be useful as an evaluation tool to reflect on an individual's career and consider options for further professional and personal development.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available