Engineers in certain organizations in which technical upward movement is prematurely truncated must often move into management positions to attain continued upward career mobility. This transition is difficult for both those who make it and those who do not, and may cause good engineers to become derailed managers. On the basis of career stage theory, this study proposes an instrument to explore the career states of midcareer and older engineers. The sample came from 254 members of the Chinese Institute of Engineers in Taiwan. The proposed career stage measurement, which combines organizational position ranks and personal perceptions of autonomy and influence at work, provides a valid frame for tracking career stages. The results differentiate six career stages, including one composed mostly of engineers in middle-level management positions who apparently have fallen off track. Compared with on-track careerists, these derailed managers perceive less job success and perceive fewer up-front managerial skill requirements. They appear less self-motivating and self-learning during their managerial transitions. Both the background of the sample, which offers some causes of this derailed situation, and the abilities that engineers need to avoid derailment as they progress from one managerial stage to another are presented.
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