Mentoring Entrepreneurial Networks: mapping conceptions of participants in technological-based business incubators in Brazil

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The mentoring processes

Formal mentoring program are among the planned change interventions with the object of promoting personal development and the consequent rise in organizational efficacy. The first publications of the theory that provided support for these interventions, at the beginning of the 70s, were directed to the area of organizational behavior (Levinson et al, 1978). Levinson et al (1978 p. 97), when treating the corporative context, proposed that a mentor is “normally a person much older, more experienced and mature [...] a professor, councilor or godfather.” The mentored person, in contrast, is the one benefited by the experience, maturity and protection of the mentor.

According to Kram (1985), mentoring assures not only personal growth but career progress as well. He summed up mentoring functions as being convergent in two principal categories. First there those relational aspects that guarantee the learning of the professional roles an individual must assume in the organization and that prepare him to reach higher positions within it. In second place there are the psychosocial functions, those aspects of a relationship that guarantee a sense of competency, that clarify the identity and affectivity of the professional role. Some examples of variables that compose the mentoring function are presented in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Examples of Mentoring Functions (Kram, 1985)

In the corporate context, career functions serve primarily to guide functional progression within the organization, while the psychosocial functions affect each person individually by the formation of a sense of self-value and operate internally as well as externally to the organization. Together, these functions capacitate the person to face the challenges of each stage of his career.

Needless to say, the basic development functions provided by mentoring, career functions and psychosocial functions (Kram, 1985) operate within different environments as well, not restricted to the corporate environment. These functions may operate, for example, in a small business, providing not only learning abilities, knowledge of policy and social rules as well as the sense of competency, of identity and of professional affectivity.

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