Research Handbooks in Business and Management series
Edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Keith Townsend and Gabriele Suder
Although a universal definition is by no means simple to arrive at, a career can be seen as a sequence of work-related experiences that unfold through time (e.g. Arthur et al., 1989). Every working person has a career. And careers have to be managed. Yet managing the careers of managers is more complex and sophisticated than management of careers for rank-and-file employees. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a manager is ‘a person responsible for controlling or administering an organisation or group of staff’. What distinguishes someone with managerial responsibilities from other employees, therefore, is that this person (1) is in charge of multiple resources (including money, materials, technology, space and people), and (2) has to make decisions about how to combine, process, utilise and develop these resources in order to achieve certain outcomes that add value to the business, the firm or the function. Although someone may claim that virtually all individuals who perform work are charged with such responsibilities, a fundamental difference between a manager and someone without managerial tasks is that the manager bears responsibility for the output (including behaviours) of those he/she is in charge of. The manager is accountable for the actions and output of others, while non-managerial employees normally are not. In this respect, therefore, managers share characteristics with leaders, though being a good manager does not always require exceptional leadership capabilities (e.g. see Bono and Judge, 2004).
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