In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Fielding alum Mark Luna, PhD, shares the subject of his dissertation research — and why the answer matters:

What is the role of cultural capital, human capital, and social capital in Hispanic men’s perceptions of promotability?

Mark Luna speaking at the University of Southern California

Working in a competitive environment for large corporations, the path to promotion has always peeked my interest. I often wondered why some employees move faster up the corporate ladder than others. As an employee seeking a promotion, I was curious: Why do some Hispanic men move faster up the corporate ladder than other Hispanic men in organizations?

In my research, I wanted to examine the perceptions of Hispanic men who have been managers in business organizations and how their cultural, human, and social capital influences their self-perceptions of career and promotability. My study centered on Hispanic men revealing personal work experiences about their promotional path for advancement and how they felt about what has happened to them throughout their careers.

Minority advancement is a popular topic in today’s workplace. In many organizations, the number of Hispanic managers in top-level positions remains low. The findings brought to light new ethnic attitudes and strategies important to future Hispanic managers seeking to advance in organizations. The research data showed through the lens of cultural knowledge, education, skill sets and relationships, participating managers under the umbrella of human capital, cultural capital and social capital proved social tie relationships have been important in their professional development.

Dr. Mark Luna

The negative rhetoric in recent news about those of us with Hispanic roots can be used to present a positive motivational tool to advance Hispanic professionals to top levels of management. The results from this study begin to bridge the gap between the three forms of capital, and concludes that Hispanic men can and must develop strong social capital, especially strong tie relationships, to enhance advancement. In addition, the human capital trait of taking initiative has shown to be present and extremely effective in maximizing one’s promotional potential.

Working with graduate business students I have used the results from my dissertation to help early professionals develop a strategic plan to meet their career goals. In today’s organizations, emerging professionals must manage their own talents and social relationships to excel and advance in organizations. One can no longer leave it up to being recruited on campus as a manager trainee or hard work to help you to move up the corporate ladder.

Dr. Luna with his dissertation committee, L-R: Steven Murphy-Shigematsu, Miguel Guilarte and Teresa Marguez-Lopez