Modelling career success : the influence of personality and inter-personal processes
The pattern of relationships between three sets of variables and gender differences in these variables were investigated. The sets of variables were personality traits, mentoring and networking, and career success. The investigation took place in an organisational context that did not appear to be male-dominated. It was expected that certain personality traits would increase the likelihood to report mentoring and participation in organisational networks, which, in turn would enhance objective and subjective career success. It was also expected that women would report more mentoring and networking, which would reflect on gender differences in career success. Questionnaire data from 272 individuals (199 women and 73 men) who were clerical and administrative employees in organisations from the British higher education sector were analysed. Hierarchical regression analysis and causal path analysis based on least squares regression were the main data analytic techniques. In general, the expectations regarding the pattern of relationships were confirmed. Personality exerted both direct and indirect effects on objective career success and on subjective career success. Networking exerted direct effects on objective career success and indirect effects on subjective career success, through its effects on objective career success. Mentoring exerted direct effects on subjective career success and indirect effects, through its effects on networking, on objective career success. Provision of mentoring was affected by reception of mentoring, but its effects on career success were not of particular substance. The implication of the findings is that objective career success exerts positive effects on subjective career success, but fostering a mentoring culture in an organisation can improve employees' feelings about their careers in a more effective way than offering organisational rewards such as promotions. Regarding gender differences, according to the expectations, women reported more mentoring, networking, and provision of mentoring and more subjective career success, but men reported more promotions and higher grades. The analysis suggests that elimination of male dominance in numerical terms may not be a sufficient condition for the elimination of gender differences in career success. Cultural shifts and changes in procedures and processes (e.g., promotion process, committee composition) may also be needed. A number of limitations, especially the cross-sectional nature of the study, exist. Finally, an important implication is that there may be a clash of interests between individual employees who want to advance their careers and organisations which should benefit most from committed employees and meritocratic procedures in the allocation of rewards. More research across organisational types and contexts (e.g., self-employed individuals) is suggested.