Competency based career ladders for project managers in a large research & development organisation

Willem Fourie / Marie-Louise Barry

Large research and development (R&D) organisations have a variety of professional staff that needs to be fairly compensated. Implementation of a fair compensation policy for employees in a large organisation necessitates the categorisation of all employees into pay levels. The authors conducted a qualitative multiple-case study of various operating units within an R&D organisation employing multiple sources of evidence to determine an optimal way of recognising and rewarding the career growth of project managers. Employee loyalty and career decisions are influenced by motivational theory, the need for career growth, career growth assessments, organisational culture, and organisational structure within the context of a knowledge worker R&D environment. The research found that the organisation should resist generalisation of career ladder instruments across operating units. Career ladder instruments for project managers, scientist and engineers require different competency metrics and different scales are required to determine market related salaries across various application areas.