Aging and Working in the New Economy
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Aging and Working in the New Economy

Changing Career Structures in Small IT Firms

Edited by Julie Ann McMullin and Victor W. Marshall

The case studies and analyses developed in this timely book provide insight into the structural features of small and medium-sized firms in the information technology sector, and the implications of these features for the careers of people who are employed by them.
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Chapter 2: Making a Life in IT: Jobs and Careers in Small and Medium-sized Information Technology Companies

Victor W. Marshall, Jennifer Craft Morgan and Sara B. Haviland


Victor W. Marshall, Jennifer Craft Morgan and Sara B. Haviland More than a dozen years ago, in an article on the software industry, sociologist and business guru Rosabeth Moss Kanter (1995: 52) opined that ‘The requiem for jobs and careers as the American middle class has known them has already sounded. Some purveyors of career advice claim that “jobs” are increasingly obsolete; instead, people will perform tasks on a project-by-project basis under short-term contracts’. She went on to note that ‘The software and related knowledge industries are inventing a new kind of career with profound implications for the way we work and live’. Kanter’s observation covers only one aspect of IT sector work, where the concept of career, and its relationship to jobs, has developed a much broader meaning. In this chapter we explore these issues through a comparative study of IT workers in small and medium sized enterprises—the social location where traditional careers are probably at greatest risk. As Cappelli (1999: 14) has observed. much of contemporary American society has been built on stable employment relationships characterized by predictable career advancement and steady growth in wages. Long-term individual investments such as home ownership and college educations for children, community ties and the stability they bring, and quality of life outside of work have all been enhanced by reducing risk and uncertainty on the job. . . . How these characteristics may change with the new employment relationship is an open question. In this chapter we focus on changes in the way...

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