Impact of Organizational Support for Career Development
Career Development International Emerald Article: The impact of organisational support for career development on career satisfaction Belinda Renee Barnett, Lisa Bradley Article information: To cite this document: Belinda Renee Barnett, Lisa Bradley, (2007),”The impact of organisational support for career development on career satisfaction”, Career Development International, Vol. 12 Iss: 7 pp. 617 – 636 Permanent link to this document: http://dx.
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Lisa Bradley School of Management, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between organisational support for career development (OSCD) and employees’ career satisfaction. Based on an extended model of social cognitive career theory (SCCT) and an integrative model of proactive behaviours, the study proposed that career management behaviours would mediate the relationship between OSCD and career satisfaction, and between proactive personality and career satisfaction.
Design/methodology/approach – Public and private sector employees (N ? 90) participating in career development activities completed a survey regarding their proactivity, OSCD, career management behaviours and career satisfaction. Findings – OSCD, proactive personality and career management behaviours were all positively related to career satisfaction and career management behaviours mediated the relationship between proactive personality and career satisfaction. There was no support for the career management behaviours mediating between OSCD and career satisfaction.
Research limitations/implications – This study provided support for the extended SCCT model by testing a subset of its proposed relationships using a cross-sectional approach. The sample surveyed (employees participating in career development activities) and the large proportion of full-time employees, may limit the generalisability of the ? ndings. Future longitudinal research could more fully test the relationships proposed by the extended SCCT model and include a greater representation of part-time and casual employees. Practical implications – The results suggest that there are bene? s for organisations and individuals investing in career development.. First, from an organisational perspective, investing in OSCD may enhance employees’ career satisfaction. Second, employees may enhance their own career satisfaction by participating in career management behaviours. Originality/value – This study integrated the predictions of two models (an extension of SCCT and a model of proactive behaviours) to test the in? uence of environmental (OSCD) and individual difference (proactive personality) variables on career satisfaction. Exploring how organisational and individual variables together in? ence career satisfaction provides a more balanced approach to theoretical development. Keywords Career satisfaction, Human resource management, Employee development, Career management Paper type Research paper Changes in the economic, technological and business environment during the last two decades have signi? cantly impacted people’s career attitudes and experiences (Hall, 2002; Pinnington and Lafferty, 2003). These environmental changes have contributed to the Career Development International Vol. 12 No. 7, 2007 pp. 617-636 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1362-0436 DOI 10. 1108/13620430710834396
CDI 12,7 618 establishment of a new psychological contract: the reciprocal obligations held by employees and employers (Hall, 2002). The predominance of organisational restructuring, de-layering and downsizing has contributed to a more ? exible or “boundaryless” career environment with expectations that individuals will self-manage their careers, rather than rely on organisational direction (Arthur et al. , 2005; Kossek et al. , 1998). Concurrently, tight labour markets in Australia and other developed countries challenge organisations in attracting, motivating and retaining employees.
Australia is currently experiencing record low unemployment rates with labour shortages across many industries, including the trades, engineering and knowledge sectors. In this competitive environment, where it is increasingly dif? cult and costly to attract employees with the necessary skills, organisations need to convince employees that their organisation provides more opportunities, challenges and rewards than their competitors. This aim can be particularly challenging when the traditional rewards offered as part of the old psychological contract, such as structured career paths and job stability, are more dif? ult for organisations to provide due to the more dynamic environment in which many organisations now operate. Therefore, organisations are seeking creative ways to address this attraction, motivation and retention challenge (Erdogan et al. , 2004; Heslin, 2005). One way that organisations may meet this challenge is to support employees to develop their own careers and increase their career satisfaction. This approach is consistent with the recommendation that organisations perform a new supportive, rather than directive, role in enabling their employees’ career success (Baruch, 2006).
This study proposes that organisations can adopt strategies to enhance employees’ career satisfaction and so potentially increase the organisations’ ability to attract and retain these employees. While one focus of this study is on the role that organisational support can play in employees’ career satisfaction, it is important to also consider the role that individuals play in their own career success, particularly given the trend towards more individualistic career management in the last few decades (Baruch, 2006).
Exploring the impact that organisational and individual difference variables have on career satisfaction will result in a more comprehensive understanding of these relationships and also offers the opportunity to merge the two, often distinct perspectives provided by (worker-focused) vocational psychology and (employer focused) organisational psychology (Lent and Brown, 2006). An extended model of Social cognitive career theory (SCCT) has recently been proposed which predicts how contextual and individual personality, cognitive and behavioural variables predict vocational satisfaction (Lent, 2004, 2005; Lent and Brown, 2006).
To date, versions of this extended model have only examined the academic satisfaction of college students (Lent et al. , 2005) and there is a strong need for further study with employed workers (Lent and Brown, 2006). Therefore, this study will explore the relationship between an environmental support variable, organisational support for career development (OSCD) and employee career satisfaction.
In addition, a mediating relationship proposed by SCCT, via participation in goal directed activities (individual career management behaviours) will be explored. Since this recently extended model of SCCT emphasises an approach to unify personality and environmental perspectives, previous studies of university students tested how extraversion and positive affect ? t the model (Lent et al. , 2005). The current study builds on past research by exploring how another important personality variable (proactive personality) impacts career satisfaction.
By incorporating the predictions of the model of proactive behaviours (Crant, 2000), and the extended SCCT model (Lent and Brown, 2006), this study will also explore whether career management behaviours mediate the relationship between proactive personality and career satisfaction. Greater understanding about the mediating mechanisms by which environmental and personality variables impact career satisfaction will contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of career satisfaction and support the development and testing of the extended SCCT model.
Organisational career management is a risk management process (Baruch, 2006). Therefore, examining the relative contribution that OSCD makes to employee career satisfaction can assist organisations in determining whether investment in supporting employee career development will derive adequate bene? ts and enable organisations to better design career development strategies to achieve desired outcomes. From an employee perspective, understanding how personality, behavioural and environmental factors function together may offer the opportunity to assist people to become as satis? d with their careers as nature and environmental factors support (Lent and Brown, 2006). Figure 1 presents a social cognitive model aimed at understanding vocational and educational satisfaction (Lent and Brown, 2006). The model predicts paths by which social cognitive variables (e. g. self-ef? cacy, goals) function jointly with personality and environmental variables to impact work satisfaction (Lent and Brown, 2006). The model extends upon SCCT, which was originally developed to explain interest development, choice and performance in career and educational domains (Lent et al. , 1994).
Exploration of this recently developed model of SCCT can contribute to the literature by helping to achieve integration on two levels (Lent and Brown, 2006). These levels of contribution will be described next. Support for career development 619 Figure 1. A process model of work satisfaction that highlights theorized interrelations among personality, cognitive, behavioural and environmental variables CDI 12,7 620 The ? rst way that this model of SCCT can contribute to the literature is to help unify the often disparate perspectives of organisational and vocational psychology (Lent and Brown, 2006).
While organisational and vocational psychology researchers focus on work satisfaction, it is often with different perspectives. For example, vocational psychology tends to be clearly focused on the individual and work satisfaction is treated as an end in itself, or as a component of work adjustment (Lent and Brown, 2006; Russell, 1991). Organisational psychology, alternatively, tends to focus more on the organisational consequences of work satisfaction, such as productivity, engagement and turnover (Lent and Brown, 2006).
These differing perspectives have led to largely distinct literatures, with concerns that researchers will reinvent areas of inquiry if they do not draw together learning from multiple disciplines (Baruch, 2006; Lent and Brown, 2006; Russell, 1991) Therefore, exploring this extended SCCT model can contribute to the literature by developing closer links between vocational and organisational psychology perspectives on work satisfaction (Lent and Brown, 2006).
Exploring this SCCT model can also contribute to building a more comprehensive understanding of work satisfaction by considering how cognitive, behavioural, personality and environmental factors jointly impact work satisfaction (Lent and Brown, 2006). By incorporating frequently studied correlates of work satisfaction into a few, broader conceptual categories, this extended model of SCCT attempts to balance comprehensiveness and simplicity in explaining the multiple in? uences on work satisfaction.
While the bivariate relations contained in this model have received study, this extended model of SCCT provides a theoretical logic for predicting how these variables may function together. Since study of the extended SCCT model has focused on student samples to date (Lent et al. , 2005), this current study will also contribute to the literature by exploring how a subset of the relationships proposed by this SCCT model applies to employed workers, as recommended by Lent and Brown (2006).
This study also incorporates theoretical predictions from the model of proactive behaviours (Crant, 2000) from the management literature. This model considers the antecedents (individual differences, such as proactive personality, and contextual factors, such as OSCD) and consequences (such as career success) of both general and context-speci? c proactive behaviours (Crant, 2000). The model shares similarities with SCCT, in its perspective that employees take an active role in their careers: they initiate behaviours and create favourable situations to achieve personal goals and career success (Crant, 2000).
Similar to the predictions of SCCT (Lent, 2005), the model proposes that people are more likely to take actions to achieve their goals if they have access to environmental (organisational) support and resources relevant to the pursuit of these goals. Integrating the predictions from the psychological and managerial literature also builds on the recommendations of (Baruch, 2006) who urged researchers to analyse careers from a broad, multi-disciplined approach, rather than from a limited, single discipline perspective. The key elements of the model proposed in this study and its predicted pathways will be described next.
The model outlined in Figure 2 integrates some of the predictions of the extended SCCT model (Lent and Brown, 2006) and the proactive behaviour model when applied to the career domain (Crant, 2000). The key classes of variables that comprise this model include: career satisfaction; OSCD – organisational support for career development; proactive personality; and career management behaviours. Support for career development 621 Figure 2. Integrated model of proactive behaviours Key model elements Career satisfaction (subjective career success) While traditionally a career was considered to be con? ed to professionals or those who advanced through organisational hierarchies, today the term “career” is more broadly applied and is commonly considered to be the lifelong sequence of role-related experiences of individuals (Hall, 2002). Building on this de? nition, “career success” can be de? ned as the “positive psychological and work-related outcomes accumulated as a result of one’s work experiences” (Seibert and Kraimer, 2001, p. 2). Distinction has been made between objective and subjective indicators of career success.
Objective career success refers to the work experience outcomes, such as status, promotions and salary, that are objectively observable (Seibert and Kraimer, 2001). Traditional career research focused predominantly on objective measures of career success (Gattiker and Larwood, 1988). This focus was consistent with the predominance of hierarchical organisations where employees’ career success was largely de? ned by promotion, rank and retention (Hall and Chandler, 2005). Measuring only objective criteria of career success, however, is de? ient, since people also value subjective outcomes such as development of new skills, work-life balance, challenge and purpose (Gattiker and Larwood, 1988; Heslin, 2005). Also, having achieved objective career success does not necessarily mean that people are satis? ed with their career (Hall, 2002). Lastly, some objective career success measures appear less relevant today, since organisations are more constrained in providing these opportunities (Heslin, 2005). One way to deal with the limitations of de? ning and measuring career success using objective criteria is to supplement these with measures of subjective career success.
Subjective career success Subjective career success refers to individuals’ evaluation of their career progress, accomplishments and anticipated outcomes, relative to their own goals and aspirations (Seibert and Kraimer, 2001). The change in focus to subjective career success, where the criterion for success is internal rather than external, is also consistent with the change in the career context where individuals are expected to self-manage their own careers rather than rely on organisational direction (Hall and Chandler, 2005; Hall and Mirvis, 1995). CDI 12,7 622
Subjective career success has most often been operationalised as job satisfaction or career satisfaction (Erdogan et al. , 2004; Heslin, 2003; Ng et al. , 2005; Seibert and Kraimer, 2001). For example, in a recent review of career success studies, 20 out of a total of 49 studies operationalising subjective career success included measures of career satisfaction and 11 studies included measures for job satisfaction (Arthur et al. , 2005). Alternatively, a recent meta-analysis included only studies measuring career satisfaction to operationalise subjective career success (Ng et al. 2005). While there appears little general consensus about the relative merits of both measures, one perspective considers job satisfaction as an inadequate measure of career success, since subjective career success indicates satisfaction over a longer time frame and wider range of outcomes, such as sense of purpose and work-life balance, than job satisfaction (Heslin, 2005). We will use career satisfaction in this study. Career satisfaction measures the extent to which individuals believe their career progress is consistent with their own goals, values and preferences (Erdogan et al. 2004; Heslin, 2003; Seibert and Kraimer, 2001). Career satisfaction is often measured using the career satisfaction scale developed by Greenhaus et al. (1990). The vast majority of studies measuring career satisfaction use this scale. For example, of the 20 studies measuring career satisfaction in the review article referred to above, 14 studies used the career satisfaction scale (Arthur et al. , 2005) as we will do in the current research. Organisational support for career development Organisational support for areer development (OSCD) is also called “organisational career management” or “organisational sponsorship” and refers to the programs, processes and assistance provided by organisations to support and enhance their employees’ career success (Ng et al. , 2005; Orpen, 1994). The variable has been so named in this study to be consistent with the new supportive and enabling role proposed for organisations, rather than the traditional “command and control” approach taken in the past (Baruch, 2006).
Referring to the extended SCCT model (Lent and Brown, 2006), OSCD belongs to a class of environmental support and resources variables that are speci? cally relevant to the pursuit of an individual’s career goals. OSCD comprises formal strategies (including career planning, training and assessment centres) and informal support such as providing mentoring, coaching and networking opportunities (Hall, 2002; London, 1988; Sturges, Guest, Conway, and Davey, 2002).
Proactive personality Proactive personality or disposition is a stable individual difference construct that differentiates individuals based on the extent to which they take action to in? uence their environment. People with a proactive disposition tend to identify opportunities and act on them, persevering until meaningful change occurs in their environment (Crant, 2000). Proactive personality has demonstrated signi? cant positive relationships with career satisfaction and career management behaviours (Chiaburu et al. , 2006; Seibert et al. , 2001).
Career management behaviours Career management behaviours are the actions that individuals take to achieve their career goals. These behaviours occur when individuals choose to initiate and intervene in their career situation in such a way that the individual acts in a desired direction, rather than responding passively to an imposed change (Crant, 2000). These behaviours are referred to alternatively as “career enhancing strategies” (Nabi, 2003), “context-speci? c proactive behaviours” (Crant, 2000) and “career goal-directed activities” (Lent, 2004).
These behaviours include career exploration and planning, skills development, networking and promoting one’s achievements (Claes and Ruiz-Quintamilla, 1998; Kossek et al. , 1998; Nabi, 2000, 2003; Noe, 1996; Orpen, 1994). Pathways to career satisfaction The model outlined in Figure 2 proposes that contextual or environmental factors (such as OSCD) can in? uence the career satisfaction of employees by enhancing employees’ participation in career management behaviours. The model also proposes that stable individual differences, such as proactive personality, also in? ences career satisfaction via career management behaviours: people with a proactive disposition are more likely to engage in career management behaviours and be more satis? ed with their careers. Each of the paths proposed in the model will now be discussed. OSCD and career satisfaction A goal-speci? c environmental support and resource, such as OSCD, which provides social and material support for one’s personal goals, is likely to be a signi? cant predictor of career satisfaction (Lent and Brown, 2006).
Conversely, the absence of such supports, or presence of contextual obstacles, is likely to impede goal progress and reduce satisfaction. This direct link to career satisfaction is predicted in the extended model of SCCT (Lent and Brown, 2006), and in this study’s model. To date, the evidence about the amount of variance in career satisfaction explained by OSCD is mixed (Ng et al. , 2005). This variability could partly be explained by the lack of empirical research testing theoretical models that uniquely predict subjective career success (Ng et al. 2005; Seibert et al. , 2001; Wayne et al. , 1999). For example, many studies examining the in? uence of OSCD on career success make similar predictions for both objective and subjective career success and control for variables that have a greater relationship with objective than with subjective career success. Lack of research which makes this distinction is of particular concern, since recent meta-analytic results suggest that there is a signi? cant difference between the predictors of objective and subjective career success (Ng et al. , 2005). Speci? ally, OSCD (including career sponsorship, supervisor support and training and development opportunities) and stable individual differences (such as proactive personality) were more strongly related to career satisfaction than to salary and promotion, measures of objective career success (Ng et al. , 2005). Support for the relationship between OSCD and career satisfaction was provided in two recent meta-analyses (Allen et al. , 2004; Ng et al. , 2005). Signi? cant positive relationships were found between mentoring and employee career satisfaction, with effect sizes ranging from 0. 1 to 0. 29 across up to ten studies (Allen et al. , 2004). Signi? cant effect sizes ranging from 0. 38 to 0. 46 were also found between OSCD (career sponsorship, supervisor support and training and development opportunities) and career satisfaction across up to 18 studies (Ng et al. , 2005). Analyses showed however, that the meta-analytic correlations between self-report measures were signi? cantly higher than correlations between self-report and objective measures, suggesting that percept-percept bias may be in? ating these correlations (Ng et al. 2005). Support for career development 623 CDI 12,7 624 Moderate support for a positive relationship between OSCD and employee career satisfaction was also found in two cross-sectional studies, comprising employees from private and public sector organisations in the United Kingdom and Israel (Orpen, 1994; Pazy, 1988). In both studies, the items developed to represent characteristics of an effective organisational career management system loaded on three factors: career management policies, employee career development and career information.
Together, theoretical predictions and empirical ? ndings lead to the study’s ? rst hypothesis: H1. OSCD will be positively related to career satisfaction. Career management behaviours and career satisfaction Participating in career management behaviours that are directed at achieving personally valued goals in the career domain are also expected to promote an individual’s career satisfaction and success (Crant, 2000; Lent and Brown, 2006).
Pursuing personally relevant goals is a key way that people can contribute to their own wellbeing and enables the exercise of personal agency in career satisfaction. To the extent that an individual can set and work towards their own goals and perceive that they are making progress, they are capable of promoting their own career satisfaction (Lent and Brown, 2006). Meta-analytic support also exists for the positive relationship between individual career management behaviours and career satisfaction (Ng et al. , 2005). Signi? cant effect sizes of 0. 33 and 0. 8 were found respectively for career planning and employee networking behaviour on career satisfaction across up to eight studies (Ng et al. , 2005). While most studies exploring these relationships are cross-sectional, there is also support for the positive impact of career management behaviours on subjective career success three years later (Wiese et al. , 2002). Wiese et al. (2002) surveyed 82 young German adults (age range 28 to 39 years) employed in a range of professions including physicians, lawyers, scientists, bank employees, hotel managers and police of? ers The study measured participants’ career management behaviours and their subjective success in the work domain (career satisfaction) at Time 1 and three years later. Participants’ career management behaviours at Time 1 predicted 14 per cent of the variance in participants’ career satisfaction three years later, after controlling for career satisfaction at Time 1. Career management behaviours at Time 1 however, did not predict signi? cant additional variance in career satisfaction when career management behaviours at Time 2 were also considered.
The predictions of SCCT and the model of proactive behaviours, supported by these meta-analytic and longitudinal results, lead to the study’s second hypothesis: H2. Career management behaviours will be positively related to career satisfaction. Mediating role of career management behaviours between OSCD and career satisfaction The extended model of SCCT predicts that in addition to a direct relationship between OSCD (goal speci? c environmental resources) and career satisfaction, OSCD may also indirectly impact satisfaction via goal pursuit (career management behaviours) (Lent and Brown, 2006).
The model of proactive behaviours also predicts that the presence of contextual factors, such as organisational support and resources, will facilitate an individual’s proactive career behaviours and career success (Crant, 2000). While there is indirect support for the impact of OSCD on individual career management behaviours (Kossek et al. , 1998; Noe, 1996), empirical evidence for the mediating role of career management behaviours between OSCD and career satisfaction is limited (Nabi, 2003). For example, in two recent studies of university students conducted by the same research team (Lent et al. 2005), one study found support for this mediating relationship, while the second study did not. In the ? rst study of 177 students, signi? cant relationships were found between environmental resources and academic goal progress and between goal progress and domain satisfaction for both the academic and social domain. In the second study of 299 students a strong predictive relationship was found between goal progress and satisfaction, but not between environmental support and goal progress (Lent et al. , 2005).
Nevertheless, based on the predictions of SCCT and the integrated model of proactive behaviour, it is expected that individuals will be more likely to take actions to achieve their career goals and career satisfaction if they have access to organisational (environmental) support and resources to pursue these goals (Crant, 2000; Lent, 2005). This leads to the third hypothesis: H3. Career management behaviours will mediate the relationship between OSCD and career satisfaction. Proactive personality and career satisfaction According to the model of proactive behaviour (Crant, 2000), an individual’s disposition or personality will also in? ence the extent to which they take the initiative to engage in career management behaviours and achieve career satisfaction. Therefore, this suggests that individuals with proactive dispositions are more likely to engage in career management behaviours and experience greater career satisfaction than individuals with lower proactive tendencies. A recent meta-analysis found that proactive personality was strongly related to career satisfaction with an effect size of 0. 38 found across three studies with over 1,000 participants (Ng et al. 2005). Signi? cant relationships between proactive personality, career management behaviours and career satisfaction were also demonstrated in a longitudinal study, which will be outlined next. A study investigating the career behaviours and strategies of 496 full-time employees found that proactive personality explained additional variance in career satisfaction, after controlling for several demographic, human capital, organisational, motivational and industry variables (Seibert et al. , 1999).
Two years later, the researchers found that the relationship between proactive personality and career satisfaction was mediated by innovation, political knowledge and career management behaviours (de? ned as career initiative) (Seibert et al. , 2001a). While the recently extended SCCT model does not refer to proactive personality speci? cally, it does predict that personality and affective traits will impact satisfaction directly as well as via cognitive appraisals of self-ef? cacy and environmental supports (Lent and Brown, 2006).
An additional theoretical pathway suggested is that certain personality traits may affect satisfaction through behavioural means: the example given suggests that highly conscientious workers may be more likely to set, pursue and make progress towards personal goals (Lent and Brown, 2006). Similarly, it follows that highly proactive workers may be more likely to engage in career management behaviours to achieve career goals and satisfaction. The similar Support for career development 625 CDI 12,7 predictions of SCCT and the proactive behaviour model, supported by meta-analytic and longitudinal results, lead to the following hypotheses: H4.
Proactive personality will be positively related to career satisfaction H5. Career management behaviours will mediate the relationship between proactive personality and career satisfaction. 626 Control variables To more appropriately determine the unique in? uence of OSCD and proactive personality on career satisfaction, the study will also control for human capital variables (organisational tenure and education level), which have been found to be related to career satisfaction (Ng et al. , 2005; Seibert and Kraimer, 2001; Wayne et al. 1999). The study will explore the in? uence that environmental and individual variables (OSCD, proactive personality and career management behaviours) can provide to employee career satisfaction and examine the mechanisms by which these relationships operate. This study therefore builds on recommendations to contribute a more balanced, integrative perspective to the study of careers (Baruch, 2006; Lent and Brown, 2006). Method Sample The participants were 90 employees from a range of private and public sector organisations.
A questionnaire was completed by 77 public sector employees and 21 postgraduate business students. Eight of the postgraduate students reported that they were currently unemployed, so they were removed from the analysis, leaving a total of 90 respondents. Of the remaining respondents, 64 per cent were female. The majority of respondents were aged between 31 and 50 years (72 per cent), with 17 per cent under 30 years and 11 per cent aged over 51 years. Most of the respondents (53 per cent) were employed with their current organisation less than ? e years, with 14 per cent having organisational tenure of six to ten years and 33 per cent over 11 years. Most of the respondents (93 per cent) were employed full-time, with 56 per cent employed in administrative and professional roles, and 40 per cent in a managerial capacity. Educational level was high, with 86 per cent of respondents having completed either undergraduate or postgraduate tertiary study. Measures All the study variable scales were measured on a ? ve-point scale which ranged from strongly agree (1) to strongly disagree (5).
Scores were reversed such that higher scores re? ected higher standing on the construct measure. All the scores for each of the items were averaged to obtain an overall measure for each of the variables. Organisational support for career development Respondents rated a ten-item organisational career management scale (Sturges et al. , 2002), indicating the extent to which they perceived OSCD. Five of the items were modi? ed slightly to re? ect a more supportive, rather than directive organisational relationship with employees. In a previous study (Sturges et al. 2002), six of the ten items loaded on “formal” OSCD (e. g. “I have been given work which has developed my skills for the future”) and four items loaded on “informal” OSCD (e. g. “I have been encouraged to obtain a mentor to help my career development”). In the previous longitudinal study, the “formal” OSCD subscale achieved an internal consistency reliability of 0. 77 at both time 1 and time 2, one year apart and the “informal” OSCD subscale achieved an internal consistency reliability of 0. 80 at time 1 and 0. 81 at time 2 (Sturges et al. , 2002).
Refer to Table I for the internal consistency reliabilities for all the current study variables. Proactive personality Proactive personality was assessed with a ten-item shortened version of Bateman and Crant’s (1993) 17-item Proactive Personality scale. Seibert et al. (1999) presented evidence of the validity and reliability of the shortened scale, with the scale having demonstrated an internal consistency reliability of 0. 85 (Seibert et al. , 2001a). Respondents indicated their level of agreement with each of the statements (e. g. “I am constantly on the lookout for new ways to improve my life”).
Career management behaviours Since the authors’ research did not identify one scale that examined as comprehensive a range of career management behaviours as desired, items from two scales were used. The ? rst scale measured career planning using six items developed by Gould (1979). This scale has demonstrated internal consistency reliability above 0. 7 in previous studies (Gould, 1979; Wayne et al. , 1999). Participants reported the extent to which they had career goals and plans (e. g. “I have a strategy for achieving my career goals”). Three items were stated in the opposite direction and were reverse scored.
The second scale measured career self-management behaviours using 16 items (Sturges et al. , 2002). Respondents indicated the extent to which they engaged in networking (e. g. “I have arranged to be introduced to people who can in? uence my career”), visibility behaviour (e. g. “I have made my direct supervisor aware of my accomplishments”), skills development (e. g. “I have read work-related publications in my spare time”) and mobility-oriented behaviour (e. g. “I have made plans to leave this organisation if it cannot offer me a rewarding career”). Internal consistency correlations above 0. were achieved for all of these subscales in a previous study (networking (0. 74), visibility (0. 69-0. 8) and mobility (0. 76-0. 78)), except for skills development (0. 56-0. 63) (Sturges et al. , 2002). Career satisfaction Career satisfaction was measured using the ? ve-item career satisfaction scale, which has demonstrated an internal consistency correlation of 0. 86 (Greenhaus et al. , 1990). Respondents indicated their level of agreement with each of the statements (e. g. “I am satis? ed with the progress I have made toward meeting my overall career goals”).
Control variables Respondents’ demographic and human capital information was collected with single item questions for gender, age, highest level of education completed, organisational tenure, work type (e. g. technical, professional, managerial) and employment status (full-time, part-time, casual). Support for career development 627 CDI 12,7 628 Variables – – – – 3. 65 3. 31 3. 52 3. 50 – 0. 08 0. 42 0. 22 20. 02 0. 16 20. 08 – 2 0. 28 0. 27 2 0. 08 0. 35 0. 15 – 0. 07 0. 02 2 0. 22 2 0. 17 – – – – 0. 49 0. 77 0. 54 0. 72 Table I. Correlations between variables of interest M SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 – 0. 5 2 0. 19 2 0. 18 2 0. 32 2 0. 22 2 0. 17 2 0. 03 (0. 86) 0. 04 0. 55 0. 23 (0. 90) 0. 16 0. 27 (0. 88) 0. 35 (0. 87) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Gender# Age group# Education level# Tenure# Proactive personality OSCD Career management behaviours Career satisfaction Notes: correlations greater than | 0. 28 | are signi? cant at p , 0. 01; those greater than | 0. 21 | are signi? cant at p , 0. 05; internal consistency reliability for variables shown in brackets (); # nominal or ordinal scales used to measure variable, therefore mean and standard deviation not report
Procedure Public sector employees participating in internal and cross-agency career development programs were invited to complete the questionnaire during workshops, while the postgraduate business students were invited to complete the questionnaire during university classes. (The authors approached these organisations and their respective employees/students because it was expected that they would be more interested in the study’s variables of interest and subsequent results, and therefore, be more likely to participate in the study. Respondents were told that the aim of the survey was to research their career attitudes and perceptions about organisational career development. A cover letter provided background information regarding the purpose and nature of the study and emphasised con? dentiality, anonymity and voluntary participation. Participants either returned the questionnaire in an envelope at the end of the session or returned it in a reply-paid envelope addressed to the authors’ university address. To ensure anonymity, respondents were not asked to provide their names or any other identifying information.
Participants were encouraged to participate by receiving a small incentive (such as a chocolate bar and/or being eligible to win a movie/meal voucher). The vouchers were awarded at the end of workshops, during which participants were given time to complete the questionnaire. Respondents who returned a completed questionnaire at the end of the workshop received a raf? e ticket. A winning ticket was then drawn from the collection of ticket butts, and the respondent with the matching ticket was given the voucher.
These small incentives and the strategy used for approaching participating organisations may have resulted in the relatively high response rate of approximately 50 per cent. Results Means, standard deviations and internal reliability for the variables of interest are shown in Table I. An exploratory factor analysis showed that the formal and informal OSCD items loaded on one factor, accounting for 53 per cent of the variance in the factor structure. All the OSCD items were therefore averaged to form a composite OSCD score, with an internal consistency reliability of 0. 90.
An exploratory factor analysis of the career management behaviours found that all items (except for the two mobility-oriented items and one networking item) loaded above 0. 30 on the ? rst factor, accounting for 30 per cent of the variance in the factor structure. A composite career management behaviour score was calculated by averaging all the items loading above 0. 30 on the ? rst factor, with an internal consistency reliability of 0. 88. The networking item and two mobility-oriented items were removed from further analyses. All the remaining scales obtained internal consistency reliability above 0. 5 (refer Table I). The public sector and postgraduate business student samples were analysed to determine differences on demographic variables. The only signi? cant differences were that the university respondents were less likely to be female (x 2 ? 1? ? 7:52, p , 0:01) and tended to be younger (x 2 ? 3? ? 13:86, p , 0:01) than the public sector respondents. Due to there being only minor differences, the two cohorts were combined into one sample. Support for career development 629 CDI 12,7 630 Hypothesis testing H1 to H5 were analysed by conducting hierarchical egression analyses on career satisfaction. The data were checked for missing data and outliers. One multivariate outlier was identi? ed and removed from the analysis. The number of control variables used in the regression analyses was contained to meet the recommended ratio of respondents to predictor variables (Tabachnick and Fidell, 1989). H1 and H2 proposed that OSCD and career management behaviours would both be positively related to career satisfaction. After controlling for education level and tenure, OSCD predicted an additional 8 per cent variance in career satisfaction (? 0:28, p , 0:01), F? 1; 85? ? 7:57. Therefore, H1 was supported. H2 was also supported. Career management behaviours predicted an additional 9 per cent variance in career satisfaction, after controlling for education level and tenure (? ? 0:33, p , 0:01), F? 1; 85? ? 8:97. H3 proposed that career management behaviours would mediate the relationship between OSCD and career satisfaction (refer Table II). The ? rst condition of mediation (as described by Baron and Kenny, 1986) requires that the independent variable, OSCD, relate to the mediating variable, career management behaviours.
In the ? rst equation (refer equation 1, Table II), OSCD was not signi? cantly related to career management behaviours (? ? 0:19, p ?. 0:05, ns). H1 represented the second condition, which was met (refer equation 2, Table II), In the third equation, (refer equation 3, Table II), career satisfaction was regressed on the mediating variable (career management behaviours) along with the independent variable (OSCD). The effect of OSCD on career satisfaction remained signi? cant (? ? 0:23, p , 0:05) and career management behaviour was also signi? cantly related to career satisfaction (? 0:28, p , 0:05). For the third condition to be met, the effect of OSCD on career satisfaction would need to decrease signi? cantly. The ? rst and third conditions of mediation were not met, suggesting that career management behaviours do not mediate the relationship between OSCD and career satisfaction. Therefore H3 was not supported. H4 proposed that proactive personality would be positively related to career satisfaction. After entering the control variables (education level and tenure), proactive personality predicted 4 per cent additional variance in career satisfaction (? 0:21, p ? 0:05) F? 1; 85? ? 3:83 (refer equation 2, Table III). Therefore, H4 was supported. Dependent variable First equation CMB Second equation CSat Third equation CSat b b b 0. 31 * * 20. 13 0. 11 * * 0. 19 – 0. 14 * * 0. 04 0. 10 20. 15 0. 05 0. 28 * * – 0. 09 * * 0. 08 * * 0. 10 20. 15 0. 02 0. 23 * 0. 28 * 0. 14 * * 0. 14 * * Variable Step 1 Education level Tenure Adjusted R 2 Step 2 OSCD Career management behaviours Adjusted R 2 DR 2 Table II. Mediating role of career management behaviours between OSCD and career satisfaction Notes: *p , 0. 05; * *p , 0. 01; * * *p , 0. 01 Variable Step 1 Education level Tenure Adjusted R2 Step 2 Proactive personality Career management behaviours Adjusted R2 DR 2 Dependent variable First equation CMB Second equation CSat Third equation CSat b b b 0. 31 * * 20. 13 0. 11 * * 0. 53 * * * – 0. 36 * * * 0. 25 * * * 0. 10 20. 15 0. 02 0. 21^ – 0. 05^ 0. 04^ 0. 10 20. 15 0. 02 0. 06 0. 29 * 0. 09 * 0. 09 * Support for career development 631 Table III. Mediating role of career management behaviours between proactive personality and career satisfaction Notes: ^p=0. 05; *p , 0. 05; * *p , 0. 01; * * *p , 0. 001
H5 predicted that career management behaviours would mediate between proactive personality and career satisfaction. In the ? rst equation, proactive personality was a signi? cant predictor of career management behaviours (? ? 0:53, p , 0:001) F? 1; 85? ? 34:98 (refer equation 1, Table III), meeting the ? rst condition. H4 represented the second condition of mediation which was also met. Both proactive personality and career management behaviours were entered in the third equation (refer equation 3, Table III). While career management behaviour was positively related to career satisfaction (? ? 0:29, p , 0:05) F? 2; 84? 4:55, proactive personality was no longer statistically signi? cant (? ? 0:06, p . 0:05, ns), meeting the third condition, Moreover, the indirect path linking proactive personality and career satisfaction through career management behaviours was signi? cant (Sobel test, z ? 2:11, p , 0:05). This suggests that career management behaviours fully mediated the relationship between proactive personality and career satisfaction, providing support for H5. Discussion This study explored the contribution that organisations and employees can make to their career satisfaction and the mechanisms by which these relationships occur.
This was achieved by testing a subset of the relationships proposed by an extended model of SCCT (Lent and Brown, 2006) and an integrative model of proactive career behaviours (Crant, 2000). The study explored how proactive personality, OSCD and individual career management behaviours relate to career satisfaction. Consistent with previous research (Ng et al. , 2005; Seibert et al. , 2001a), this study found that proactive personality was signi? cantly positively related to career satisfaction. The study also found that career management behaviours mediated the relationship between proactive personality and career satisfaction.
These results support the model of proactive behaviours, which suggests that highly proactive individuals are more likely to achieve greater career satisfaction than less proactively inclined individuals, by engaging in proactive career behaviours (Crant, 2000). The results also support the theoretical proposition by Lent and Brown (2006) that speci? c personality traits (proactive personality) impact satisfaction via behavioural means (career management behaviours). CDI 12,7 632 After controlling for education level and tenure, OSCD explained a moderate 8 per cent variance in career satisfaction.
This result supports the premise made by the extended SCCT model that access to goal-relevant environmental resources will be directly related to satisfaction (Lent and Brown, 2006). This ? nding also supports this study’s proposal that organisations can in? uence their employees’ experience of career success by supporting their employees’ career development. Individual career management behaviour (comprising career planning, networking, skills development and visibility) was also positively related to career satisfaction.
After controlling for education level and tenure, individual career management behaviour explained 9 per cent additional variance in career satisfaction. This ? nding is consistent with SCCT and the model of proactive career behaviours, since it supports the proposal that individuals taking proactive actions to achieve their career goals (engaging in career management behaviours) are more likely to experience career satisfaction (Crant, 2000; Lent, 2005). The proposal that individual career management behaviours mediated the relationship between OSCD and career satisfaction received no support, due to a non-signi? ant relationship between OSCD and career management behaviours. This ? nding is inconsistent with the extended SCCT model, which predicts that environmental resources may impact satisfaction indirectly via their impact on goal-directed activities. The relationship between contextual factors, such as OSCD, and individual career management behaviours has received mixed empirical support. For example, Lent et al. (2005) found two different outcomes from their two different studies. The ? rst study of 177 students found a signi? ant relationship between environmental supports and resources and student progress towards their academic goals. The second study of 299 students found no direct relationship between these variables. A possible explanation for this study’s results is that individual difference variables, such as proactive personality, moderate the relationship between OSCD and career management behaviours. Given that individuals with a proactive disposition are relatively unconstrained by situational forces (Crant, 2000) it is likely that highly proactive people will engage in career management behaviours independent of the OSCD they perceive.
This study possibly suffered from a restriction of range in this independent variable, since the study’s respondents (employees participating in career development programs and/or further study) are more likely to have highly proactive dispositions, and therefore engage in career management behaviours independent of their perceived OSCD. This explanation is supported somewhat by the relatively high mean score for proactive personality (3. 65 on a ? ve-point scale).
Another possible reason for career management behaviours not mediating between OSCD and career satisfaction is that there are additional environmental supports and resources (such as those outside the organisation), individual difference or social cognitive variables impacting individuals’ career management behaviours which were not explored in this study. Theoretical implications This study contributes to the existing literature by exploring how environmental aspects (OSCD) and an individual difference variable (proactive personality) together impact career management behaviours and career satisfaction.
Few studies have simultaneously investigated the impacts of these variables on career satisfaction before, and doing so responds to recommendations to balance both organisational and individual perspectives in theoretical development and facilitate integration of the organisational and vocational psychology perspectives (Baruch, 2006; Lent and Brown, 2006). This study builds on previous research which tested the extended SCCT model with university students (Lent et al. , 2005), by exploring the application of a subset of its proposed relationships with employed workers.
This study also incorporated conceptual predictions and empirical ? ndings from the management literature (Seibert et al. , 2001a) to test the applicability of another personality variable, proactive personality, in the extended SCCT model. Previously, positive affect and extraversion have been tested in the SCCT model (Lent et al. , 2005). The ? nding that career management behaviours mediated the relationship between proactive personality and career satisfaction provides support for the extended SCCT model’s prediction that personality traits may affect satisfaction via behavioural means (Lent and Brown, 2006).
Together with the signi? cant positive relationship between OSCD and career satisfaction, this study provides support for the application of some of the extended model’s proposed relationships to employed workers. The study also has practical implications, which will be reviewed next. Practical implications While causation can not be proven, this study suggests that employees’ proactive personality, via their career management behaviours, and OSCD are signi? cantly related to employee career satisfaction. This suggests two different strategies for organisations to facilitate employees’ career satisfaction.
The ? rst strategy involves recruiting employees with proactive dispositions. While this may be more dif? cult given the tight labour market experienced currently in Australia, and many other countries, it may be possible in some countries or in some industries. The second strategy involves enhancing employees’ perceptions of OSCD by providing both formal programs and informal support for employee career development. The signi? cant positive relationship between career management behaviours and career satisfaction suggests that individuals bene? personally from engaging in these behaviours. Therefore, this ? nding suggests that OSCD initiatives that promote the individual bene? ts associated with career management behaviours and encourage employees to engage in these behaviours, may experience most success in facilitating employee career satisfaction. Study limitations As with all cross-sectional studies, causality between OSCD and career satisfaction can not be proven. Questionnaires were completed at one point in time by respondents, so the results are also subject to common method and common source bias.
As discussed above, the sample surveyed (employees participating in career development activities) is likely to be more proactively inclined than the general population, which may have restricted the range of study and limit the generalisability of the results. A large proportion of the study respondents were educated to tertiary level and employed full-time, which may also limit the generalisability of the ? ndings, particularly given the increasing participation in part-time and casual employment in Australia. The use of the career satisfaction scale to measure subjective career success may be another limitation of the study.
While this standardised scale is used widely and obtains acceptable levels of internal consistency (Greenhaus et al. , 1990), it may be a de? cient measure of the subjective career success construct. The career satisfaction Support for career development 633 CDI 12,7 scale includes items (such as satisfaction with income and advancement goals) which may not be the most important criteria used by individuals to assess their career success (Heslin, 2005). Future research Future research could be conducted with a greater representation of part-time and casual employees, and with greater variability in individual differences, such as roactive personality. Exploration of the broader relationships proposed by SCCT on a longitudinal basis could build our understanding of the nature of the relationships between individual differences, environmental, social cognitive and behavioural predictors of subjective career success. Future research could also explore the types of career management behaviours that are most valuable for. achieving important career outcomes for employees. Greater understanding of these relationships could lead to the design of interventions that better facilitate employees’ experience of career success.
Conclusion This study proposed that organisations may potentially attract, motivate and retain employees by supporting their employees’ career development. The results indicated that OSCD and employee participation in career management behaviours are positively related to employee career satisfaction. These results suggest that OSCD initiatives promoting the bene? ts associated with career management behaviours and supporting employees to participate in these behaviours may experience the most success in facilitating employee career satisfaction. References Allen, T. D. , Eby, L.
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