Career paths in the life sciences: Processes and outcomes of organizational change
Sociology, Industrial and Labor Relations.
Sociology, Social Structure and Development.
AdvisorPowell, Walter W.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis project examines how changing organizational arrangements in a technological field affect individual level outcomes and processes of career formation. In the field of the life sciences, the biotechnology industry has emerged as an employment option with a fundamentally different organizational form. Three main research questions are addressed concerning the changing organizational setting of life science careers: (1) How are traditional stratification of science patterns affected by the option of employment in network rather than hierarchical, organizations? (2) Who enters a new, sought after, employment arena first? and (3) How does a new career path become legitimate? The data collected for this project are both quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative data were gathered from National Institutes of Health archives. Logistic regression analyses were performed on the sample of 3395 PhDs to estimate dichotomous career outcomes. The qualitative data come from interviews and ethnographic observations with scientists in a variety of settings--university laboratories, commercial firms, and government institutes. While traditional patterns of stratification in science--educational background and gender--were found to have effects in this sample as well, organizational context is very important to understanding how stratification may be mitigated. Gender inequality in the attainment of leadership level positions was consistently found in more hierarchical organizational settings, but did not appear in network organizations (biotechnology firms). In contrast, educational background had significant effects across all types of organizational forms. PhDs with elite educations were more likely to enter biotechnology both in earlier and later periods of industry history. Male and female PhDs were equally likely to enter the biotechnology industry, and this result also did not vary by time period. The common frames used by scientists in biotech and other science-based organizations to legitimate biotechnology work include: resources (scientific as well as monetary), networks (ties to respected scientists who endorse biotech), and analogies to academe. Biotechnology employment is retroframed as similar to yet different from academic work---indicating some interesting frame tension. This study has implications for scholarship particularly in the areas of organization theory, sociology of science, and gender and work.
Degree ProgramGraduate College