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For instance, the notion of lifetime employment has been replaced by the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
* 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
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.
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 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.
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 was assessed with seven items by adapting
questions from the Job Diagnostic Survey, developed by Hackman and
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
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
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
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
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
7. I know about general economic and societal trends that affect my
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.
1. I regularly engage in developmental activities related to my
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.
1. A formal process to attain career development is important to
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
5. Career management programmes are essential to support my career
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
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.
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
4. I enjoy sharing about the work in the hotel with people outside
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
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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
[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 *
[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
Independent Dependent Age years <25 25-44 >44
Variables Variables Respondents 110 295 100
[DELTA] F t
Career Career .35 58.97 7.67 *
Career Career .29 44.70 6.69 *
Career Job .39 71.99 8.48 *
Career Career .34 56.50 7.52 *
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
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