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Unbundling subjective career success: A sequential mediation analysis

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Wee Chan Au


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PurposeThis study aims to contribute to subjective career success (SCS) literature using sequential mediation modeling to interrogate the inter-relationships between dimensions of SCS, including interpersonal success, financial success, job success and hierarchical success. In doing so, the research provides a nuanced understanding of career behavior among young adults using the perspective of a non-western developing context.Design/methodology/approachThe study is operationalized using 342 survey questionnaires from Malaysian young working adults (18-34 years). Partial least square structural equation modeling is used as the main analytic tool.FindingsThe results of the study revealed that dimensions of SCS were related in a sequential mediating manner. Specifically, an individual’s interpersonal success is the foundation for one to accomplish job tasks (job success), which then leads to increased prospects for promotion (hierarchical success) and subsequently financial success.Practical implicationsThese findings highlight the importance of interpersonal success as a foundation of career success and provide evidence for the study recommendation to support young working adults in building interpersonal relationships, which will help realize other forms of career success. However, the establishment of a sequential mediation pathway suggests that developing relationships alone are not sufficient. Study roles and tasks must also be designed to align with individuals’ personal goals for advancement and success.Originality/valueThe research contributes to knowledge on understanding career behavior specifically relating to the dynamics and complexities of SCS. The study sheds light on the potential limitation of operationalizing SCS as a multi-dimensional aggregate construct and provides empirical support for the proposed sequential mediation model of SCS.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rossenkhan Z, Au WC, Ahmed PK

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Business Review

Year: 2020

Volume: 33

Issue: 1

Pages: 60-79

Print publication date: 07/01/2021

Online publication date: 06/04/2020

Acceptance date: 03/02/2020

ISSN (electronic): 0955-534X

Publisher: Emerald Publishing Limited


DOI: 10.1108/EBR-09-2019-0197


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