Career development, job satisfaction, and career commitment: evidence from the Singaporean hospitality industry.
Changing aspirations of contemporary employees is compelling employers to facilitate corporate frameworks for enhancing employee retention rates. One scheme to reduce attrition is fostering greater career satisfaction and career commitment through enlightened career path planning. This study reports findings from the analysis of data provided by 505 employees of a leading Singaporean hotel to reveal career path planning and career management, substantial predictors of career development, which was significantly related to career satisfaction and career commitment. It was also found that women and men held similar perspectives for all the assessments, but older employees reported significantly less importance for career planning and career development. Insights for strengthening organization- employee linkages are presented.

Key words : Career development, Job satisfaction, Career commitment, Singapore, Gender, Age.

Article Type:
Hotels and motels (Australia)
Employee retention
Career development
Pearson, Cecil
Ananthram, Subramaniam
Pub Date:
Name: Paradigm Publisher: Institute of Management Technology Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Business, general Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Institute of Management Technology ISSN: 0971-8907
Date: July, 2008 Source Volume: 12 Source Issue: 2
Event Code: 200 Management dynamics Computer Subject: Company business management
Product Code: 9918560 Career Planning; 7011000 Hotels & Motels NAICS Code: 72111 Hotels (except Casino Hotels) and Motels SIC Code: 7011 Hotels and motels
Geographic Scope: Australia Geographic Code: 8AUST Australia
Accession Number:
Full Text:

There is increasing evidence that institutions are being challenged to undertake proactive career management. In earlier periods of relative stability and somewhat predictable linear progression, the likely career advancement of cadres could be 'written on a wall' as organizations were male-dominated. Generally, employees worked in one company to a retirement age of sixty-five years, and thus, regular promotion was a feature of seniority (Hind 2005). But the emergence of a competitive, global marketplace, a shortage of qualified and skilled staff, a lack of leadership strength, and the increasing participation of professional and managerial women (Burke et al. 2006) are compelling organizations to revitalize and reposition career management. Indeed, attention to career development initiatives is encouraged by 'job hopping' and staff attrition rates of 20 to 25 per cent, which are being recorded in Asian workplaces in general, and in India and Singapore in particular. The condition has become so acute that governments and HRM departments of banks, call centres, and service organizations are devising novel ways to reduce the rate of turnover (Far Eastern Economic Review 2004; Maheswari 2006; Chatterjee 2007). In spite of companies trying a variety of measures to reduce talent losses there is a dominant contemporary belief that a firm can build competitive advantage by supporting career aspirations of staff, and thus, ultimately contribute to human capital accumulation.

An impetus for the introduction of various career aspirational programmes has been an offshoot of the demise of traditional careers. For instance, the notion of lifetime employment has been replaced by the concept of lifetime employability (Koh 2006) as advancing technology has compelled a renaissance in core job attributes and job incumbents are scampering to gain educational skill compositions (Bagshaw 1997; Finn 2000; ILO 2003). And as the labour market becomes more gender-balanced both men and women engage in non-traditional career choices (e.g., nursing, teaching). Coupled with these actions is the evidence that job holders, irrespective of gender, report more traditional role attitudes (Jome and Tokar 1998; Lease 2003), and acquire relatively common managerial work goals (Pearson and Chatterjee 2004; Chatterjee and Pearson 2006). However, making career compromise choices may lead to expressions of gender role conflict and dysfunctional job attitudes (i.e., low commitment, job dissatisfaction). Consequently, there are strong grounds for career counsellors to include such considerations in career development programmes (Dodson and Borders 2006).

Despite the reported benefits of career planning few workers, who are engaged in work for a high proportion of their working life, enjoy engagement with meaningful career development initiatives. This is a somewhat surprising state in contemporary HRM environments. Although it is recognized that financial rewards, flexible work arrangements, and the issue of work life balance is valued by new age workers (Johnson 2004; Nelson Tonks and Weymouth 2006; Baker, Avery, and Crawford 2007), there is also considerable evidence that employees recognise the benefit of meaningful career planning that can lead to the acquisition of selective valued skills and competencies, and the ultimate development of a sustainable and beneficial career (Ladkin and Juwaheer 2000; Lee 2000; Burke et al. 2006). Yet in the pursuit of competitive forms of organizational architectures (i.e., flexibility, outsourcing, multiskilling, new forms of work organization) firms emphasize the transactional (rather than the psychological) contract, which contains dimensions of monetary value as well as conceptual and contextual job redesign, that are specific and time limited (Burke 2000; McDonald and Makin 2000; Dex and Scheibl 2001).

Predictably, there is ongoing pursuit to better understand career management processes that include personal and contextual dimensions. Since the mid- 1990s a number of social scientists (Tharenou et al. 1994; Judge et al. 1995; Kirchmeyer 1998) have studied a variety of likely predictors (e.g., family, education, and ambition) of career success with the objective of being able to reconceptualize more encompassing models. The departure point for these newer paradigms is rooted in traditional HRM practices, which were developed almost twenty years earlier. Understandably, these earlier HRM arrangements, that were employed to increase job motivation, improve incumbent task competencies, and to reduce dysfunctional behaviours of poor performance, absenteeism, and turnover provide only partial answers for the nurturing of today's employees. Indeed, many institutions have yet to realize the strategic importance of innovative programmes for human resource development, which are likely to build human capital accumulation. Despite the chronicled efforts of leading-edge organizations, relatively little is known about how managerial women and men experience these initiatives (Eby et al. 2005). The exploratory study reported here is an endeavour to provide some elucidation of the relativity of situational and personal characteristics with incumbent attitudes in a career management system.

The purpose of this paper, which is in six parts, is to report an evaluation of a conceptual career framework that integrates situational and personal features as well as two important work-related attitudes: career commitment and job satisfaction. In the first part the theme of the paper focuses on some important dimensions of career development in terms of its antecedents and outcomes. The second part of the paper delineates the investigative framework and the theoretical underpinning for the predicted relationships. How this conceptual arrangement was assessed constitutes the third part of the paper, and the fourth section provides findings of the analyses. The final two sections provide a discussion and some concluding remarks to express the relevance of the study findings for career development and the role of this HRM practice in a world of modernity.

A Mode of Career Development

Despite a considerable body of literature associating notions of career planning, vocational development predictors as well as likely favourable linked job outcomes, seldom has this knowledge been amalgamated into comprehensive paradigms. More often the information has been quarantined into segregated packages. Consequently, a wealth of knowledge, such as career mobility (Kelliher and Johnson 1987; Plunket and Berger 1984; Ruddy 1989), traditional and non-traditional careers (Dodson and Borders 2006), gender career patterns (Eddleston et al. 2004; Harris 2004; Whitmarsh et al. 2007), career development programmes and job satisfaction (Burke et al. 2006; Chen 2004), career plateauing (Eby et al. 2005; Lee 2003), commitment to career (King 1999) as well as the role of age in career planning (Finkelstein et al. 2003; Power and Hira 2004) are some of the plethora of topics that have been researched to rekindle interest in the arena of career-related beliefs.

In contrast to these focused endeavours a few conceptual frameworks, that integrate some of the more dominant topics, have been advanced. These networks have been formulated in attempts to offer well defined career paths and likely organizationally relevant consequences. For example, Noe (1996) proposed career management; and covariates of respondent age and job position were predictors of performance. Later, Lee (2002), who adapted Gould's (1979) career planning model that posited implementing a career plan was likely to lead to higher career performance, formulated a career ladder paradigm. The core of Lee's framework consists of four constructs (career planning, career strategy, professional enhancement, career satisfaction) that are in a linear array to propose that employees who use techniques to develop professional progression are likely to be more satisfied with their careers. These credible earlier frameworks have limited paths to career success. Consequently, this paper evaluates a parsimonious arrangement that considers:

* Two salient career-enhancing constructs of 1) career planning and 2) career management that are predicted to lead to

* The experienced state of career development that will account for

* Two important dimensions of career success: 1) job satisfaction and 2) career commitment.

The arrangement also contains two conspicuous personal attributes of 1) gender and 2) age, that are believed to influence the connections of the outlined framework. The underpinning for this arrangement is from the popular career-related literature, which is highlighted next.

Career Planning and Career Development

During the 1980s a number of social scientist contributed to the career planning literature. For example, Antil (1984) explored the concept of career planning in the hospitality industry and contended that to achieve career success the continual process of career planning was a prerequisite. Later, Damonte and Vaden (1987) as well as Ruddy (1989) were to provide evidence to support a perspective that career planning is an important factor in career development. By the close of the 1980s and into the 1990s the link between the individual and career development was beginning to emerge (Applegate and Elam 1990; Bailyn 1991; Greenhaus et al. 1995; Rynes et al. 1998; Igbaria et al. 1999). A salient proposition embedded in this literature was an emphasis on matching organizational and individual needs. These individual needs would include career orientation which can have a strong influence on career choice, and thus, career development.

Career development is a long-term, complex process. Career development has often been reported as an organisational initiative whereby organizations set up mechanisms, processes, structures, and systems to foster career development initiatives among individuals (McDaniels and Gysbers 1992; Herr 2001). Indeed, organizations can assist by providing career planning tools or workshops through vocational counselling or by using workbooks or career resource centres to guide employees to conduct self-assessment, analyse and evaluate their career options and preferences, write down their development objectives, and prepare the implementation plan (Hall et al. 1986; Leibowitz et al. 1986; Appelbaum et al. 2002).

The notion of individuals pursuing their careers has received widespread attention. In fact, the concept is that given the opportunity, individuals can be involved in the shaping, moulding, and developing of their career path in order to achieve beneficial outcomes. Pragmatically, there are tangible benefits for both the employer and the employee, but the primary focus is generally on the individual. Hall et al. (1986) define career planning as a deliberate process for becoming aware of self, opportunities, constraints, choices, and consequences, as well as identifying preferred career goals, and programming for work, education, and related developmental experience to provide the direction, timing, and sequence of steps to attain a specific career goal. Growing support for this contention has been given by a number of authors (Leibowitz et al. 1986; Igbaria et al. 1999; Lee 2000; Burke and Nelson 2002) within a framework of career planning as a process by which individuals determine their skills, interests, and values; consider which options best 'fit' them; and set goals and establish plans for achieving their goals. The notion of self-responsibility for career planning is attracting a reasonable level of consensus (Baruch 1996; Chen et al. 2004; Burke et al. 2006) on foundations that better outcomes are likely by matching institutional and individual needs; that individuals have a plethora of aspirations, orientations, and expectations. But organizations are more likely to be attracted to transactional strategies (e.g., technology, tangible job performance reward systems), a point made by Koonce (1995) over a decade ago. In fact, some commentators (Lee 2002; Hind 2005; Walker and Levesque 2006) have argued that individuals are responsible for initiating their own career planning as well as identifying their skills, values, and interests, and are obliged to seek out their career options in order to set goals and establish their career plans. In summary, career planning is viewed as an initiative where an individual can exert personal control over their career and may be engaged in informed choices as to a future occupation, organization, job assignment, and self-development. Nevertheless, there is a long lineage of literature to strongly suggest that there is a strong relationship between career planning and career enhancement (Chesebrough and Davis 1983; Hall et al. 1986; Noe 1996; Petroni 2000; Lee 2002) and these propositions provide underpinning for the first hypothesis H1.

H1: Career planning is related to career development.

Career Management and Career Development

Career management is another commonly cited antecedent of career development. Arguably, once individuals have decided upon their career goals, they will require skills, competencies, and opportunities to pursue appropriate strategies (i.e., career management practices) that will provide pathways to the ultimate achievement of their career destiny. In other words, the next step after establishing the initial career choice will be formulation of the plans through appropriate career management practices to achieve the set milestones. In practice, career management is an ongoing process of preparing, developing, implementing, and monitoring career plans and strategies undertaken by the individual alone or in concert with the organization's career system (Hall et al. 1986; Greenhaus et al. 2000).

Career management is a continuous process of integrating dimensions of work life and personal expectations. A satisfying career can promote feelings of fulfilment while poor career decisions can have a devastating effect on a person's sense of well-being (Greenhaus et al. 2000; Eby et al. 2005). In addition, changing environments such as a change of business strategies, which can be linked with organizational downsizing, mergers and acquisitions, and technological changes will demand ongoing career management. Thus, individuals need to often revisit career options and modify career paths (Greenhaus et al. 2000; Appelbaum et al. 2002; Hind 2005).

There is support for the contention that effective career management can enable individuals to make informed decisions that are consistent with their talents, aspirations, and values which can improve organization effectiveness. The arguments generally 'fall' into three avenues. First, there is the pragmatic 'bottom line' model that organizational objectives are more likely to be realized by embracing employees '--who are able to execute relatively routine tasks with the same proficiency as they are willing to learn new skills and take the company to the next stages of ambition' (Bartlet and Ghoshal 1995:11). Other social scientists (Eneroth and Larsson 1996; Hoon 2000; Johnson 2004) are also attracted to the model of HRM policies and practices that provide organizations with a competitive edge through dimensions of skilled human capital accompanied with staff flexibility. Such corporate cultures foster continuous improvement and exhibit company architectures that endorse ideals of social processes that override the constraints of ethnicity (Wright et al. 2000). A second somewhat broad stream is the argument that the career management initiative is a nexus between organizations and individuals. Through proactive strategic planning organizations endeavour to match individual interests and capabilities with organizational opportunities with programmes that encompass activities such as career systems, career counselling, job rotation, and other career management tools and resources (Hall et al. 1986; Hilltrop 1995; Baruch and Hind 1999; Martin et al. 2001). This concept, which is an extension of the pragmatic line, is reflected as a benign process of responsibility. In the basic form the strategy is predicated on organizational and environmental uncertainties that give companies an option to provide training and developmental opportunities (coupled with appraisal review functions) to employees first, in the interest of the organization; and secondly, for the benefit of the employee. A hallmark of advanced states of the concept would incorporate greater involvement of employees in formulating their career destiny. Some support has been provided by a few studies that have been done on the association of career management and career development. For instance, a study by Noe (1996) attempted to identify the relationships between career management, employee development, and employee performance. The study findings indicated a voluntary increase in development activities and exploratory behaviour, with age, position, and a manager's support for development, as significant contributors with respect to career management process. A third stream of the career management--career development literature is the construct of 'career plateau'--emerged in the late 1980s (Evans and Gilbert 1984; Gerpott and Dorsch 1987; Elass and Ralston 1989). The basic tenet is that employees care about their careers, but because of certain institutional properties (e.g., downsizing, lack of hierarchical job positions) or personal attributes (i.e., age, retired) traditional career progression (as promotions) may be less meaningful. To ameliorate dysfunctional work responses such as poor morale, low job satisfaction, work stress, and overall feelings of job stagnation, some organizations (and particularly those in low unemployment regimes) have moved from a position of abandoning involvement in managing employees' careers. By becoming more proactive with appropriate HRM practices employee perceptions of blocked career opportunities can be diminished. For instance, redesigning jobs to better match with the job incumbent's skills and competencies as well as providing learning opportunities has been a potential for greater levels of job satisfaction, stronger attendance patterns, and career challenges to be developed. These notions provide support for hypothesis H2.

H2: Career management is associated with career development.

Career Development and Job Satisfaction

The importance of ensuring participants satisfaction with career aspirations is attracting the attention of HRM practitioners. This interest is being promoted because relatively little is known about how managerial and professional staff experience career development initiatives (McCracken 2002; Rutherford 2005). Indeed, there is emerging evidence that while there are a few reported instances there are growing numbers of UK and US organizations that are implementing practices to support managerial and professional women in career development programmes to achieve their promotion to senior positions (Burke et al. 2006). In addition to the primary aim of supporting women's career advancements an important objective of these training and development activities is to improve job satisfaction and general well-being.

There is a great deal of literature to support a premise that career development and job satisfaction are related. An early, broadly based perspective suggesting a link between these two constructs was given by Gregson (1987) who contended that an emotional state of job satisfaction can develop from self-appraisal of experiencing job activity and achieved task results. Other social scientists have suggested a close connection between work and affective responses. For instance Noe (1996) posited job satisfaction as the pleasurable feeling of believing a strong connection between doing the work and attaining valued judgements. And more recently, Lau and Tan (2003), Koh and Boo (2004) as well as Burke et al. (2006) have presented compelling evidence to demonstrate that HRM practices that promote the involvement of members in workplace arrangements are likely to be associated with favourable outcomes (e.g., ethical orientations, fewer psychosomatic symptoms, less emotional exhaustion, higher states of job satisfaction). A closer relationship between variables of the advanced conceptual arrangement was envisaged by Jepsen and Sheu (2003) who commented that the extent of liking a job is an universal aspect of career development. And recently, evidence has emerged (Chen et al. 2004) to expressly demonstrate that career development programmes have potential to influence job satisfaction. To further corroborate the linkage between career development and job satisfaction, hypothesis H3 is advanced.

H3: Career development will be related to job satisfaction.

Career Development and Career Commitment Career commitment has been reported as an important outcome of career development initiatives. Commitment, which is influenced by both personal predispositions and organizational interventions (Wiener 1982), is an important and desirable condition for managers. Indeed, career commitment, that has been defined by Hall (1976) as the strength of one's motivation to work in a chosen career role has linkages with organizational features like intention to turnover, firm profitability, employee absenteeism, job satisfaction, and work ethics (Mowday et al. 1982; Sims and Kroeck 1994; Saks et al. 1996; Benkhoff 1997). Further, Colarelli and Bishop (1990) contend that career commitment is characterized by the development of personal career goals, the attachment to, identification with, and involvement in those goals. Thus, it is likely that organizations that provide career-relevant information and assistance will narrow employees' career focus and bind them more closely to them, leading to organizational commitment (Granrose and Portwood 1987). Commitment to an internally defined career may become an important source of occupational meaning and continuity as organizations become more fluid and less able to guarantee employment security. Moreover, Perrow (1986) highlighted that career commitment is also important to the development of ability, because commitment to a career helps one persist long enough to develop specialized skills and also provides the staying power to cultivate business and professional relationships (Colarelli and Bishop 1990; Noordin et al. 2002). Therefore, career commitment would seem to be a viable return from meaningful career progression and development.

Career development opportunities are viewed as being supportive towards career commitment initiatives among employees. King (1999) points out that the psychological force of self-identity, self-insight and resilience in pursuing career goals represent core components for career motivation and commitment, and for building cooperation, cohesiveness, and consensus in an organization. Career commitment forms a centripetal force inward, protecting the organization from outside influence, drawing human resources towards countless acts of cooperation with each other. Moreover, Lee (2000) claims that employees' job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and morale levels are important in appropriate career decision frameworks. This theoretical underpinning provides foundation for speculating hypothesis H4.

H4: Career development is associated with career commitment.

Gender as a Mediator

Interest in the topic of the career development of women has escalated in the past fifteen years. Underpinning this interest is the rapid changes in women's lives, and in particular the greater participation rate of women in professional careers and a realization that traditional 'gender homogeneity' corporations are not well suited for the contemporary global marketplace. Yet, the representation of women on international assignments is only slowly increasing (Harris 2004), and few women (compared to their male colleagues) eventually rise to senior executive positions (Belkin 2003). Also worrying is the evidence demonstrating that only a very small proportion of professional women aspire to further promotion from the middle-management levels (Catalyst 2003). Male world views may well suggest that these outcomes are to be expected given basic assumptions about traditional female gender work and family roles that can become a barrier to linear progressive organizational promotion. Alternative perspectives with an emphasis '--to adequately address the uniqueness and complexity of women's career development'. (Whitmarsh et al. 2007:11) have led to a great deal of research that has uncovered a wide variety of themes and issues that impact gender differences in career patterns.

Frameworks for evaluating career planning and career decision-making patterns and their effects are in transition. For instance, both women and men may work in non-traditional careers, yet there are few studies that have comprehensively evaluated male responses from those engaged in non-traditional careers. Hence, further knowledge is required to develop predictive models. The need to revisit the relationships between gender and career choice is gathering support. For example, Whitmarsh et al. (2007) state that many of the core assumptions that included 1) separation or work and family, 2) reverence for autonomy, 3) work as a central attribute of life, and 4) linear, rational nature of the career development process may only be suitable for gender differences in career behaviours in traditional organizations. The argument for revitalizing these frameworks in contemporary work arrangements is advanced by an expanding literature that confirms the importance of a wide range of topics. These items include such features as gender role associations, frames for career directions, work-family balance, career changes, personal compromises, and a plethora of individual, social, and contextual dimensions. Clearly, these issues are beyond the scope of this paper. At best this study can take guidance from Kato and Suzuki (2006) who suggest that many employees follow the general parameters of drift, mist, and hope, and eventually are likely to concede that their future is already decided for them by their employer who has previously given greater emphasis to male career planning. Intuitively, these broad assumptions lead to the relational statement in the farm of Hypothesis 5.

H5: Female managers are likely to hold lower levels of importance for career patterns than male managers.

Age as a Mediator

Research attention on the role of age as a reliable predictor of the soundness of career planning has intensified. This position has been driven by the knowledge that the different expectations job incumbents can have for career planning in contemporary institutions is extensive. A smorgasbord of career path preferences is a reflection of the significantly diminished existence of the phenomenon of linear career paths with many people having multiple jobs or careers in a lifetime (Finkelstein et al. 2003)- the engagement of older workers as organizational newcomers (Kram 1996) as well as 'retired' people undertaking part-time work. Consequently, corporations can experience age diversity across different hierarchical levels and within departments whereas a hallmark of companies in earlier times was the relative similarity and stability of age profiles. It is because of the demographic sea change that chronological age may not be a good linear predictor of organizational initiatives for career development. Moreover, much of the research findings from evaluations of age issues and career planning, that were conducted over a decade ago in more 'traditional' firms, may have limited relevance for contemporary institutions of today and tomorrow.

Organizational age heterogeneity and the flux of demographic profiles promote a perspective of discontinuity as a feature of career planning models. Additionally, the extent of 'noviceness' of the individual is likely to be a factor that reflects the level of active involvement in decision-making choice for achieving career advancement adequacy. For example, newly employed university or college graduates (who are likely to provide the bulk of younger corporate employees) are likely to express a preference for the financial rewards and an alignment of their core study knowledge with their work. Yet, prior to employment they were job holder novices and would have held relatively high career aspirations (Walker and Levesque 2006). In later years, when the euphoria of the job has subsided (no longer a job novice), these advanced employees and other more mature co-workers are likely to give greater consideration to their immediate and future careers. In the later stages of organizational life, particularly with the onset of retirement, older employees are likely to give greater consideration to financial planning to achieve retirement income and '--the importance of managing retirement, accumulation and liquidation risks'. (Power and Hira 2004:121) rather than further career planning in the employing organization. Notably, the intensity of the preoccupation with retirement (a new career) planning is being undertaken by novices of the new 'work organisation'--retirement lifestyle. As this paper only reports data for employee perceptions and attitudes in terms of career planning for the current employer organization, the retirement environment is not included in this report. Thus, it is intuitively suggested that younger and older employees will demonstrate lower vigour and less perceived importance for career planning in their current organization than cohorts of organizational age profile of the mid-ranges. These imperatives provide the foundation for the following hypothesis H6.

H6: The importance of career planning will be less for younger and older employees compared to other employees.


Site and Respondents

This research was undertaken in a leading Singapore hotel. The hotel, which was established in 1986, is a five-star, international residence and the third largest in Singapore. The primary reason for choosing this hotel as the research site was underpinned by the fact that the hotel employees had rated 'Opportunities for career development' as the second lowest satisfaction factor in two recent, consecutive, annual Employee Satisfaction Surveys. Furthermore, exit interview data of the second survey demonstrated that one of the first three reasons for leaving the employment of the hotel was a perception of better employment opportunity elsewhere. At the time of conducting the study, the hotel was experiencing a period of rising turnover rates.

The respondents were full-time hotel employees. A total of 523 employees, who were working across a wide spectrum of jobs within the hotel, participated in the survey. These participants were employed in a range of roles from managerial functions to a variety of customer-oriented duties (e.g., reception, housekeeping, administration, kitchen, security, and financial activity). As the hotel cadre was 547, the initial participation rate was 95.6 per cent. However, eighteen questionnaires were invalid, leaving 505 valid questionnaires (92.3 per cent of the total hotel cadre) for data analysis. A feature of the study sample was that 51.5 per cent were female.


A survey questionnaire was developed from the relevant literature to evaluate the conceptual framework. This questionnaire was administered to those employees who wanted to participate in the survey over a span of three days. Employees were assembled in groups and given a specific time period in which they were required to complete the questionnaire. The key objective of the study was explained before the respondents were invited to address the survey questions, and further, it was explained that participation in the study was voluntary and anonymous. Respondents were assured that the information they provided would be treated with confidentiality. The questionnaire was completed and returned during the same session.

Two versions of the questionnaire were employed. There was an English version and a Mandarin version, delineating the same set of questions. As the source of the instruments was from Western literature, the original form of the questionnaire was in English. A back translation procedure was employed to create a Mandarin version, with a three-stage process. In the first stage, a group of bilingual assistants translated the English version to the Mandarin version. The second stage was undertaken when an independent group of bilingual assistants translated the Mandarin version to an English version. In the third stage of the back translation process a third independent group compared the initial English version with the translated, second version of the English questionnaire. Where there were obvious and critical differences these matters were referred to the first group of bilingual assistants, who retranslated and passed the newer version to the second group of translators. This English version had a literal meaning with the initial English questionnaire. Then the Mandarin version, translated from the second English version, was accepted. A 'perfect' translation cannot be expected as Mandarin is a language from an extant society that has considerably different religions and cultural dimensions and nuances from a traditional Western society from which the original English version of the questionnaire was sourced. Staff who were less comfortable with English were encouraged to complete a Mandarin version of the questionnaire.


Three types of variables were measured. First, demographic properties of gender and age were sought. Second, perceptual responses to career planning, career development, and career management were assessed. Last, two dependent variables, namely job satisfaction and career commitment, were evaluated. The independent variables, the intervening variable and, the two dependent variables were measured with seven-point Likert scales (1 = strongly disagree to 7 = strongly agree). Arithmetic means were determined for each variable. Scale validity was demonstrated by factor analysis employing the varimax rotation option (Puah and Ananthram, 2006) and the items that constituted the variables are presented as Appendix 1.

Career Planning

Respondents provided perceptual information about the existence of career planning, setting of career goals, and importance of career planning in the career development process. The eleven items used to assess this variable were adapted from King (1999), Gould (1979), and Coachline's career development needs survey (available at

Career Management

Career management practices were assessed with six items by adapting measurement scales from Chay and Bruvold (2003) and Chen et al. (2004). The measurements were about the importance and availability of career management practices.

Career Development

The intervening variable accessed the importance of career development to the respondents and whether career planning and career management were important elements to attain career development. The five items were developed by adapting Coachline's career development needs survey.

Job Satisfaction

Job satisfaction was assessed with seven items by adapting questions from the Job Diagnostic Survey, developed by Hackman and Oldham (1980).

Career Commitment

Career commitment was assessed by adapting eight items from the work of Colarelli and Bishop (1990) and Chay and Bruvold (2003).


The analyses were undertaken in five stages using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). First, data robustness was established by principal component factor analysis employing the varimax rotation option to uncover the underlying factors associated with the independent, dependent, mediating, and intervening variables. Questions that were cross-loaded were excluded from analysis. The second stage of the analysis was conducting reliability estimates to ensure consistency and stability of data (Cavana et al. 2001). A Cronbach's coefficient alpha which measures how well the variables are positively related to one another was estimated for each of the interval-scale-assessed variables. In the third stage, correlation analyses were conducted. The results gave an indication of the strength of the relationship between the variables as a coarse assessment of hypotheses H1 to H4, inclusive. The fourth key stage of the analysis of the conceptual model was regression analysis, and this procedure enabled an examination of the hypothesized relationships. Finally, in the fifth stage the impact of age and gender on the hypothesized relationships were assessed using multiple regression analysis, t-tests and analysis of variance measures.


The results of a correlation analysis provided support for the forecasted bivariate relationships of H1 to H4. Specifically, career development was related to career planning (r = 0.70) and career management (r = 0.54). In addition, career management was associated with job satisfaction (r = 0.65) and career commitment (r = 0.59). All relationships were significant at the p<0.01 level.

Regression analyses were employed to test the postulated hypotheses. Each hypothesis was tested independently. Table 1 presents the result of career planning as an antecedent of career development for the Singaporean sample. It is shown in Table 1 that 49 per cent of the variance in the assessed linkage was explained by the independent variable career planning, which provides confidence for the posited relationship between career planning and career development. The significant result at the p<0.001 level provides strong support for hypothesis H1. Table 1 shows that 30 per cent of the variance was explained for the bivariate relationship between career management and career development. The significant relationship at the p<0.001 level provides empirical support for hypothesis H2, specifically, that career management was perceived by the respondents as an antecedent of career development. Table 1 displays the results of regression analyses for assessing hypotheses H3 and H4, that job satisfaction and career commitment are positively related to career development. The amount of variance explained for the two relationships were 43 per cent and 36 per cent respectively, providing confidence in the forecasted linkages. Both the relationships were significant at the p<0.001 level providing support for hypotheses H3 and H4.

The mediating influence of gender on the four fundamental hypothesized relationships of the conceptual framework was assessed by conducting a regression analysis, independently for males and females as reflected in Table 2. The data of Table 2 suggest that the respondent males and females at the Singaporean hotel felt that career planning and career management were significant antecedents of career development. Table 2 also reveals the relationship for career development with 1) job satisfaction and 2) career commitment for both genders. The models for the influence of gender on the fundamental hypotheses are reasonable, given the adjusted R2 values. These values give limited support for hypothesis H5 as the strength of the relationships for the women respondents were somewhat unexpected.

The impact of age on the hypothesized relationships was also assessed by conducting a regression analysis on the linkages independently for the three age groups as presented in Table 3. The results of Table 3 suggest that each of the respondent age groups at the Singaporean hotel valued career planning and career management as significant contributors towards their career development initiatives. Table 3 also reveals that career development was a significant predictor of job satisfaction and career commitment for all of the evaluated age groupings. These findings provide support for the forecasted relationships, albeit unexpectedly, for the younger and older groups of employees.

A comparison of means tests was conducted using the t-test technique to investigate the significant differences between males and females for each of the assessed variables. Male employees reported significantly higher scores for career commitment than female employees at p<0.05 level. The mean scores of all other variables were non-significantly different between males and females. These values further confirm limited support for hypothesis H5.

Table 4 delineates the ANOVA results for the three age categories utilizing the Scheffe means test for the assessed variables. Employees in the first two age categories (less than twenty-five years and 25-44 years) placed a higher emphasis on career planning and career commitment compared to managers older than forty-four years of age. Furthermore, career management, career commitment, and job satisfaction mean scores were non-significantly different across the three age groups. These data provide partial support for hypothesis H6.


In spite of consensus for the value of career planning, seldom is this actively embraced, healthily. Part of this paradox is highlighted by a perennial question of why individuals do not acquire ultimate responsibility for their career development. Another problem for the adoption of career planning by organizations and their employees is the huge amount of information, institutional material, and available services, so that choice becomes a challenge. A third reason can be that organizations, and sometimes the employees, are more concerned with tangible achievements (e.g., bottom-line profits, work- life balance), which can lead to less attention being given to engaging in career development planning. The ubiquity of change can be a fourth reason for low levels of interest in career development. A continuity of change, revitalization and restructuring of organizational architectures together with an overall lack of confident, predictable ability does not encourage individuals and systems to grapple with long-term career-planning initiatives to articulate goals and objectives of a future 'phantom' situation.

Serious investment in career path planning can be hampered by the forces of globalization. In particular, globalization can contribute to environmental volatility and uncertainty as market forces are interrupted by crises, changing consumer expectations, and national exigencies. A good example of how global forces can distract attention for salient career-related beliefs is demonstrated by the current Australian mineral 'boom'. In the Australian capital cities of Brisbane and Perth many people who have been engaged in professional and technical vocations and hold sound employment prospects (e.g., teachers, police, chefs, trades) are resigning from their companies in droves. These people are becoming the new employees of 'mineral groups' who are exporting ores and gas overseas and in particular to the People's Republic of China. Salaries in these new jobs are multiples of the payments of their previous employment. And the local workforce, now severely depleted, is insufficient so that the Australian government is providing restricted visas to an immigrant workforce in an endeavour to 'fill' the vacancies created by the 'boom'. All know that when the 'boom' does collapse (some are predicting within five years) contracts will be cancelled. Within this labour market phenomenon traditional career planning frameworks are unravelling in preference for immediate short-term employer and employee milestones.

Marketability of personnel, willingness to relocate, and career impatience are also the features of the departure point of the study reported in this paper. Data were captured and analyses were undertaken to evaluate a theoretical, tradition-based career planning encompassing a conceptual model when it was disclosed by leavers that their expectations for career development were not being met. An analysis of a robust data set revealed the connections between the study variables of the conceptual model and these were as predicted and, indeed, significant. In fact, all of the forecasted linkages were supported or partially supported. Of substantial interest was a finding that both male and female respondents often reported similar and high levels of agreement for the examined constructs. Not unexpectedly, the cohort of older aged employees held the lowest scores for career planning and career development. A strong inference of these findings is that contemporary corporations may have advanced HRM systems considerably comparable to earlier traditional arrangements, but more encompassing perspectives sans boundary will be required to unravel some of the mystique about career planning for employees of modernity.

In spite of the study being conducted in one organization of the hospitality industry, the consensus of higher ratings for the conceptual arrangement constructs and their linkages has relevance for the career development literature. Indeed, when the manuscript content is associated with other published material, generalizations can be made about the wider usefulness of career development as a HRM initiative for not only satisfying the career values and aspirations of employees, but also as a pragmatic pathway for creating and sustaining competitive advantage in the global marketplace. In particular, the study findings have relevance for gender, and specifically, for women. Indeed, the strength of the relationships for the female respondents, shown in Table 2, was unexpected as these data reveal the high levels of linkage preferences that were held by this group. The contemporary literature in career management, which is being viewed by leading-edge organizations as providing the impetus for sustainable performance in turbulent competitive arenas, and as a foundation for frameworks that can lead to positive relationships with job satisfaction and personal well-being, is still evolving. A part of this literature is directly related to those organizations that have entertained endeavours to support the career advancement of increasing number of women, who are participating in managerial positions.

Support to the career aspirations of corporate stakeholders, and especially women, is driven by a variety of factors. For instance, the days of traditional male-dominated corporations have passed and even the notion of a 'job for life' has become displaced with a movement away from labour-intensive economies to skill and knowledge contexts. These newer workplace dimensions have highlighted not only the importance of tangible job performance, but have also facilitated the transcending of functional, sectoral, hierarchical, and demographic barriers. This in turn has led to a renaissance in living styles and mindsets of professional managers in general, and particularly women. For example, a study (Chatterjee and Pearson 2006) with 2466 managers in ten Asian countries, that assessed eleven managerial work goals with a standard ordinal instrument (Harpaz 1990), disclosed that the most important workplace preference for both men and women was 'learning new things at work'. This was a profoundly different result to the economic work goals (security, pay, promotion) that were recorded a decade earlier. And there is increasing evidence that organizations are now showing greater interest in installing HRM practices to support the career expectations of managerial staff, with special emphasis for women in an endeavour to reduce the loss of qualified female staff.

A hallmark of contemporary career development programmes is the impetus for them, which is often an unique feature. Although there is widespread opinion that career development concepts continue to reflect male world views (Cook et al. 2002; Headlam-Wells et al. 2005), a call by several social scientists (Betz and Fitzgerald 1987; Fassinger 1990; Gottfredson 2005; Whitmarsh et al. 2007) has been made for paradigms that adequately address the unique responsibilities and complexities women face when endeavouring to balance full-time employment and family obligations. But as more women entertain professional careers, that have been dominated by males (e.g., doctors, engineers, police), or men engage in what was traditionally the province of female occupations (i.e., carers, nurses) the labour markets are becoming more gender-balanced, and consequently compromises are essential if career development frameworks are to accommodate the participant's gender-specific vocational interests. In addition, organizational dependence on information and technology, the forces imposed on institutions by competitive global markets, which leads to the pursuit if skilled personnel (who have mobility opportunity) as well as the considerable formal work disagreement by retiring 'baby boomers' has found organizations scrambling to revitalize incumbent career satisfaction and job satisfaction while reducing attrition rates. Poignantly, these exigencies are the identical priorities of three decades ago (Ference et al. 1997) when organizations were compelled to petition the concept of career plateau. Initially, the construct of career plateau was associated with negative work sentiments when there was restricted promotional opportunities from company downsizing, flattening of hierarchies, or when cost-cutting measures were instituted. But today, career plateau is less associated with low job satisfaction, high stress, and withdrawal symptoms by those employees who care about their careers, yet are less discontented by a lack of upward progression, because they value progression in their work. For instance, retired people and tertiary students may only want to work part-time for the transactional and psychological dimensions of the job, while professional employees may hold value for engaging in meaningful work and learning opportunities that are likely to make them more capable and marketable for future careers. These various streams of literature demonstrate, with increasing clarity, that successful career development frameworks will be defined by the 'eye of the beholder' (i.e., the employee), and that the creation of such arrangements by HRM activists will be a challenge of gargantuan proportions.


A major dilemma for contemporary organizations is how to deal with the issue of career planning. Those institutions that fail to adequately pursue a satisfactory solution are likely to continually experience labour market crises. For instance, multinational corporations are adversely affected when their overseas projects suffer and the expatriates return earlier than planned. Furthermore, these companies experience both direct and indirect costs, when the retention rates of these 'valuable' managerial groups are lost because of poor retention strategies. Clearly, a lack of sequence of the 'journey' and the 'final destination' of managerial cadres is the root of the poor career development of expatriates.

More efficient career-planning frameworks have potential to amalgamate employer and employee contributions. In traditional schemes the organization fostered welfare career planning for employees who worked for their lifetime in the firm. In this arrangement, employees abdicated their career planning to the employer who ensured that the employee was retained and was promoted regularly (often slowly). This situation is unusual with younger employees in contemporary organizations. The modern employee is less concerned with preserved employment, but expects an opportunity to learn a bundle of skills that will prepare the incumbent for future jobs, not necessarily in the same organization. In addition to acquiring skills for future vocational opportunity, younger employees see career development to be more than just about a job. They see the process as being able to fulfil numerous personal expectations (i.e., psychological health, favourable work, work-family interfacing). These expectations will impose a newer set of demands on employers, who in many instances have yet to realize the strategic importance of employees as partners.

In spite of the relatively few constructs that were evaluated in the conceptual model in this study, the findings provide fundamental insights into likely determinants and desirable organizational outcomes for the state of perceived career development. Indeed, the strong observed association between the respondents' perceived state of career development and job satisfaction may be useful knowledge for Asian managers who report that their firms are being plagued by extremely high rates of staff attrition. Extensive research has demonstrated that job satisfaction is inversely related with the severing of employee- organization linkages that are exhibited as absenteeism, intention to leave, and staff turnover. Currently, to stem the outflow of valuable employees managers are being compelled to provide expensive, lucrative job options. A less costly pragmatic solution might be the provision of attractive career development programmes. Arguably, such frameworks are likely to encompass a variety of other variables (than those explored in this study) to meet the diverse needs of those who enjoy the system. Often the task (of creating career development regimes) has been assigned to the HRM department because this department is likely to have staff who are skilled and knowledgeable about such matters. However, the evidence is that this has not always been a successful strategy, specifically, because a wider audience of participants is vital to manifest ownerships of the scheme. The challenge for all stakeholders is to better understand the expectations and aspirations of those who have a pecuniary stake in the design, implementation, evaluation, and continual revitalizing of the career development arrangements that inevitably will incorporate the key objectives and goals of the company.

Appendix 1: Items that Constituted the Variables

Career Planning

1. I have a plan for my career.

2. I know my career goals and objectives.

3. I know my career interests and how to apply these to my job.

4. I spend time reviewing my career plan.

5. I am able to analyse and assess my abilities, interests, and values to determine my career options.

6. I have identified areas where I need to improve my skill and knowledge level.

7. I know about general economic and societal trends that affect my career.

8. My awareness of career alternatives has helped to clarify my career goals and means for achieving them.

9. Having an accurate view of my strengths, weaknesses, and career direction helps me to have realistic expectations for career outcomes.

10. Using information about how well I am doing at work, I formulate plans to achieve specific career goals.

11. I have a strategy for achieving my career goals.

Career Management

1. I regularly engage in developmental activities related to my profession/job.

2. Besides my supervisor, I know who in the hotel has formal responsibility for helping me with career and development issues.

3. Having processes and programmes in place will help to assist me with my career development.

4. The hotel considers and plans the career paths of all employees.

5. The hotel provides opportunities for job enrichment, job rotation, and job assignments.

6. The hotel provides tool for evaluation of performance to provide an understanding of promotional prospects and career routes and help employees to adjust their efforts accordingly.

Career Development

1. A formal process to attain career development is important to me.

2. Career development is important to me.

3. I understand the need for continuous career development.

4. Career planning tools are essential to support my career development.

5. Career management programmes are essential to support my career development.

Job Satisfaction

1. Generally speaking, I am very satisfied with my job.

2. Most of the things I do on this job is useful and important.

3. The work I do on this job is very meaningful to me.

4. I feel a very high degree of personal responsibility for the work I do on this job.

5. I feel a great sense of personal satisfaction when I do my job well.

6. I feel a sense of achievement in my career.

7. I feel satisfied and happy when I discover that I have performed well on this job.

Career Commitment

1. I am happy to develop my career with the hotel.

2. I believe this career is a great career to work in.

3. I would be very happy to spend the rest of my career with the hotel.

4. I enjoy sharing about the work in the hotel with people outside of it.

5. I feel bonded to the hotel.

6. One of the major reasons I continue to work for this hotel is that another organization may not match the overall career opportunities I have here.

7. I am proud to tell others about my career.

8. I am not thinking of shifting to another career.


The authors acknowledge Priscilla Puah for her assistance with the data collection.


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Cecil Pearson, School of Management, Curtin University of Technology, GPO Box U 1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia.


Subramaniam Ananthram, School of Management, Curtin University of Technology, GPO Box U 1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia.

Table 1 : Regression analyses for the hypothesized linkages (N = 505)

Independent Variables   Dependent Variables   Adjusted [R.sup.2]

Career planning         Career development           0.49
Career management       Career development           0.30
Career development      Job satisfaction             0.43
Career development      Career commitment            0.36

Independent Variables            F                    t

Career planning               491.48               22.17 *
Career management             214.76               14.66 *
Career development            384.00               19.60 *
Career development            277.13               16.65 *

Notes: a. F = F statistic, and t = t statistic.

b. * p < 0.001

Table 2 : Regression analyses for the effect of gender on the
hypothesised relationships (N=505)

Independent              Dependent                     Males
Variables                Variables
                                          [R.sup.2]     F        t

Career planning      Career development      .55      295.45   17.19 *
Career management    Career development      .38      151.35   12.30 *
Career development    Job satisfaction       .56      308.00   17.55 *
Career development   Career commitment       .39      154.07   12.41 *

Independent                                    Females
                       [DELTA][R.sup.2]            F               t

Career planning              .43                193.79         13.92 *
Career management            .21                 70.13          8.38 *
Career development           .32                122.28         11.06 *
Career development            32                 12.36         11.06 *

Notes: a. [DELTA][R.sup.2] = Adjusted [R.sup.2].

b. F = F statistic, t = t statistic.

c. * p < 0.001

Table 3 : Regression analyses for the effect of age on the
hypothesised linkages

Independent   Dependent      Age years          <25      25-44     >44
Variables     Variables      Respondents        110       295      100

                                              [DELTA]      F        t

Career        Career                            .35      58.97    7.67 *
planning      development

Career        Career                            .29      44.70    6.69 *
management    development

Career        Job                               .39      71.99    8.48 *
development   satisfaction

Career        Career                            .34      56.50    7.52 *
development   commitment

Independent   <25                   25-44      >44
Variables     110                   295        100

              [DELTA][R.sup.2]       F         t

Career        .48                   268.61     16.39 *

Career        .23                    86.96      9.33 *

Career        .42                   209.23     14.46 *

Career        .31                   131.21     11.46 *

Independent   <25                   25-44      >44
Variables     110                   295        100

              [DELTA][R.sup.2]       F         t

Career        .57                   133.91     11.57 *

Career        .60                   149.21     12.21 *

Career        .53                   113.52     10.66 *

Career        .54                   116.91     10.81 *

Notes: a. [DELTA][R.sup.2] = Adjusted [R.sup.2].

b. F = F statistic, t = t statistic.

c. * p < 0.001

Table 4 : ANOVA Results across Age for Assessed Variables

                                       Age Categories

Variables            Group      (A)         (B)         (C)
                     Age        <25        25-44        >44
                             (n = 110)   (n = 295)   (n = 100)

Career planning                5.41        5.42         4.96
Career management              4.77        4.70         4.89
Career development             5.69        5.63         5.13
Career commitment              5.10        5.03         5.10
Job satisfaction               5.40        5.47         5.40

                          ANOVA                 Means Comparison

Variables             F         Sig.        Scheffe test

Career planning       7.29       .001        A>C *, B>C *
Career management     0.94       .391            n.s.
Career development    8.94       .000        A>C *; B>C *
Career commitment     0.19      0.83            n.s.
Job satisfaction      0.21      0.81            n.s.

Notes: a. F = F statistic, Sig. = level of significance

b. * p<0.01

c. n.s. = non-significantly different
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