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PhD Dissertation Defense, Olga Ivanova, Management and Human Resources

Olga Ivanova, PhD MHR, 2022

Congratulations to Dr Olga Ivanova, Management and Human Resources specialization, who successfully defended her Doctoral Dissertation at HEC Paris, on June 24, 2022. Dr Ivanova has accepted a postdoc position at University of Lugano (Switzerland), starting this summer.

Specialization: Management and Human Resources

Topic: Essays on the Role of Functional Diversity in Managerial Careers

Supervisor:  Roxana Barbulescu, Associate Professor, HEC Paris 

Jury Members:

  • Matthew Bidwell Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania, the Wharton School
  • Monika Hamori Associate Professor, IE University, IE Business School 
  • Gina Dokko, Professor, University of California Davis, Graduate School of Management
  • John Mawdsley Assistant Professor, HEC Paris 
  • Roxana Barbulescu Associate Professor, HEC Paris, supervisor

Abstract : Classic literature in labor economics and economic sociology has documented how managerial careers are shaped by internal labor markets and organizational division of labor. Yet the last three decades have been marked by a dramatic increase in external hiring, proliferation of new forms of employment, and the emergence of career histories that span multiple employers, industries, and occupations. This means that our understanding of intra- and inter-firm mobility of managerial workers in modern labor markets might be incomplete. In my dissertation, I explore how managers move between jobs and assignments, how organizations make their choices in filling vacant positions, and how market intermediaries shape talent flows and individual careers. I focus on functional (occupational) dimension of managerial experience. I aim at demonstrating how experience in many vs. one (or few) functions influences career outcomes for middle managers in internal and external labor markets. I concentrate on two mechanisms by which spanning functional boundaries might shape one’s subsequent mobility: (1) skills acquisition and transferability and (2) career history as a signaling device. In the first chapter, I investigate how experience in multiple functions impacts transition into management and promotions from lower to higher management within a single organization, where information asymmetry about actual workers’ abilities is less pronounced and, therefore, signaling is less likely to play a role. This project contributes to the literature on managerial careers and studies of internal labor markets by highlighting the multi-dimensionality of managerial experience and demonstrating how horizontal mobility shapes vertical mobility in organizations. In the second chapter, I study whether functionally diverse or focused profiles are more appreciated in the mediated labor market for middle management jobs, where both learning and signaling mechanisms are likely to be at work. This setting allows me to introduce the effect of the relative candidate evaluation, i.e., the structure of the candidate pipeline. This project has important implications for the literature on managerial careers and studies of external labor markets by providing new contingency factors for understanding the effect of specialization on career outcomes. The third chapter is devoted to the macro patterns of managerial mobility and their connection to organizational design. I use a large sample of matched employee-employer data collected by the French National Statistical Institute to look at how managers with different career profiles are matched to organizations with different structures and moved to different parts of these organizations.

Keywords : managerial careers, functional diversity, specialists and generalists, hiring, promotion, employee mobility, talent management

Read more about Olga's research on Knowledge@HEC: In Quest for Career Advancement: To Diversify or to Specialize?,  here 

Furthermore, the paper "Specializing Generalists: Job Rotations, Managerial Learning, and Promotions", by Olga Ivanova and her supervisor Roxana Barbulescu, published in the Academy of Management (AoM) proceedings in 2020, received the Arnon Reichers Best Student Paper Award from the Academy of Management’s Careers Division. This paper was also finalist of the prestigious SMS Strategic Human Capital Best Interdisciplinary Paper Award.