An analysis of formal mentoring programs and perceived barriers to obtaining a mentor at large public accounting firms

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Abstract

One way for firms to promote the mentoring of employees is to establish formal programs that match employees with potential mentors. Whether employees are satisfied with such formal mentoring is an empirical question. This paper examines that issue as well as whether formal mentoring programs serve to reduce perceived barriers to obtaining a mentor. The study is based on survey data obtained from 723 respondents currently working at the major public accounting firms. The study found that certain methods for matching potential mentors and protégés, as well as certain formal structures (e.g., meeting regularly and setting goals and objectives), are associated with greater mentorship satisfaction by employees. Also, the study found evidence that employees exposed to formal mentoring programs perceive no more barriers to obtaining a mentor than employees who develop informal mentoring relationships. No evidence was found suggesting that female employees, compared to males, perceived greater barriers to obtaining a mentor, or were more likely to leave the firm. These results suggest that formal mentoring programs may be associated with a changing social structure at the large public accounting firms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-53
Number of pages17
JournalAccounting Horizons
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1999

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