How Constraining Are White-Collar Job Ladders?

Horizontal and Vertical Mobility in the Federal Government
  • Thomas A. DiPrete
Part of the Springer Studies in Work and Industry book series (SSWI)


Job ladders are an administrative tool for efficiently filling vacancies, for compensating incumbents in a rational way, and for attracting high-quality recruits by the promise of career advancement. But the relationship between job ladders and actual job mobility is somewhat problematic. Forces tending to constrain mobility within these ladders are countered by other forces that tend to weaken their effect. The uncertain relationship between job ladders and job mobility was recognized by the Congressional Joint Commission, which observed that the promotion lines it identified were only the “principal” ones. Telford wrote in 1925 that “a number of serious difficulties are encountered in indicating lines of promotion, and this part of classification has not been highly developed” (Telford 1925:45; see also Baruch 1941b). The connection between job ladders and mobility is still ambiguous. Thus, although the U.S.


Occupational Group Eligible Individual Clerical Worker Internal Labor Market Vertical Mobility 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas A. DiPrete
    • 1
  1. 1.Duke UniversityDurhamUSA

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