August 12, 2009 / 2:04 PM / 10 years ago

Foreign jobs slow corporate climb, study says

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Foreign job postings slow the climb up the corporate ladder for executives, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management, which ended on Tuesday.

A chief executive without an overseas work background reaches the top job about two years sooner than those who went abroad, said Monika Hamori, professor of management at IE Business School in Madrid.

The more assignments and the longer time spent outside the home organization, the longer it takes, she said.

“The results show that executives with international assignment experience take longer to reach the top echelon,” said Hamori, who with IE colleague Burak Koyuncu studied the careers of chief executives at companies on the S&P 500 and Financial Times Europe 500 indices.

“Our findings suggest that you advance faster if you are in proximity to the corporate headquarters’ social networks than if you are on assignment abroad.”

With a few exceptions, foreign divisions represent the periphery, far from companies’ centers of power, she said.

The average chief executive is appointed to the top job in 24.83 years from the start of his or her career but those with international assignments take 1.96 years longer than those without international experience, the researchers found.

“Do it for a year or two, do it when you’re young and don’t switch companies when you get back,” said Hamori.

One third of the chief executives in the study had international assignments.

A separate study presented in Chicago to the Academy of Management, which groups some 19,000 members from 102 nations, found that working for a company with a strong identity is more effective for getting ahead than is individual performance.

A position at a well-known company with lower pay and less responsibility serves better than does a high-paying job at a little-known company, according to research by Dan Halgin of the University of Kentucky, who analyzed the careers of U.S. university and college basketball coaches.

Coaches associated with prominent so-called coaching groups — those at well-known schools with coaching dynasties or those who worked with coaching legends — landed more prestigious jobs than those who did not, he found.

The previous win-loss records of their teams was not a factor in gaining the plum jobs, he said.

Halgin studied NCAA Men’s Division I basketball coaches for seven years, when there were 282 coaching changes. Eighty of those were coaches who belonged to prominent coaching groups and they got better jobs than did the others, he said.

Being associated with a prominent coaching group also mattered more than did a coach’s overall winning percentage, the prestige of the coach’s most recent employer or the number of NCAA tournaments the coach’s teams played in, he said.

Editing by Michelle Nichols and John O'Callaghan

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