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Title: Rising to the top : exploring the role of political skill, career self-efficacy and perceived organisational support in the career success of women in Germany
Author: Weissenrieder, Caprice Oona
ISNI:       0000 0004 9355 436X
Awarding Body: Edinburgh Napier University
Current Institution: Edinburgh Napier University
Date of Award: 2020
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Interest in the careers of women is still highly relevant and remains an often-discussed topic amongst both scholars and practitioners. Despite several decades of legislative re-form and government intervention which go aside of considerable efforts from advocacy groups, women remain significantly under-represented in the higher echelons of organisations in Germany. This situation leads to a remarkable paradox: a high number of well-trained and educated women that do not achieve the same career success as men but are often labelled as a hidden and under-utilised resource within organisations and our society. Hence, a central proposition underpinning this research is rather than describing obstacles women face, research should focus on factors that help women to get ahead (Baskerville Watkins & Smith, 2014; Shaw & Leberman, 2015). Authors have already identified plenty of obstacles that women face at work. In particular, prior research suggests that women suffer in terms of corporate policies, limited training and career development activities, as well as gender stereotypes, promotional practices, and compensation (Garcia-Retamero & Lopez-Zafra, 2009; Hoobler, Lemmon, & Wayne, 2014; Oakley, 2000). Thus, the aim of this doctoral study was to identify and measure factors that help women in Germany to succeed. Building on that idea, commentators have realised that successful individuals have employed tactics and strategies to aid their advancement (Orpen, 1994; Pazy, 1988; Rasdi, Garavan, & Ismail, 2011). Moreover, career processes are politically-charged and to succeed, women need to influence key stakeholders and negotiate political structures responsible for career decisions in order to overcome male privilege in the workplace. However, little is known so far in relation to how “ ... women may success-fully steer through the political quagmire that often surrounds them at work” (Baskerville Watkins & Smith, 2014, p. 207). Thus, this study underlines the importance of political skill for females' careers which reflects the ability to identify and use powerful alliances at work, as well as to behave astutely and strategically in order to succeed (Ferris, Davidson, & Perrewe, 2005). Furthermore, there is still a need for research that helps to understand the mechanism of political skill. In particular, this study tries to shed some light on our understanding of why and how political skill affects career success due to the incorporation of the intervening variables of perceived organisational support and career self-efficacy. This empirical study starts with a comprehensive review of literature to develop the pro-posed conceptual model and hypotheses. Based on a post-positivist stance and a survey method, data was collected from career-oriented women living in Germany. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics, confirmatory factor analysis, and structural equation modelling to assess model fit and test the hypotheses. The results of the study show the more frequently females ́ engage in political behaviour, the higher the influence on subjective and objective career success. Nevertheless, even though a direct effect of career self-efficacy towards women's career success occur, the assumed moderating effect has to be rejected. Finally, the study explores the importance of perceived organisational support to women's career development. Perceived organisational support was found to mediate the relationship between political skill and subjective well as objective career success. The results suggest that enhancing political behaviour offers implications for individuals and organisations. One can conclude that women benefit from applying political skill to support their career success. In particular, this research should encourage women to train their political tactics. Moreover, women can benefit from high self-efficacy beliefs too, even though no moderation effects were identified in this study. Self-efficacy beliefs can also be enhanced by training and coaching sessions. Furthermore, the study reveals that political skill will increase women's perceptions of organisational support and commitment, which seems to influence their career success positively. Thus, this research should also motivate organisations to provide training not only for women, but also for all employees to increase their awareness of possible unconscious bias and stereotypes. To conclude, this study contributes to the literature on females career success, particularly in Germany. It can also assist women, organisations and HRD practitioners in developing awareness, but also in designing programmes for individuals and organisations.
Supervisor: Ali-Knight, Jane Sponsor: Edinburgh Napier University
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: women's careers ; career progression ; career decisions ; political skill