Gender differences in career planning and success

Research paper by Yuhee Jung, Norihiko Takeuchi

Indexed on: 16 May '16Published on: 28 Jan '16Published in: Journal of Managerial Psychology


Journal of Managerial Psychology, Volume 31, Issue 2, March 2016. Purpose The main purpose of this study is twofold. First, it attempts to examine how employees’ career planning interacts with the quality of leader-member exchange (LMX) to explain subjective career success. Second, we investigate how the pattern of such interactions differs between male and female employees. Design/methodology/approach To increase the generalizability, the study tested hypotheses in two studies whose data were collected in different national settings. Study 1 was designed to analyze 144 Korean employees and Study 2 investigated 140 Japanese employees. Both groups of employees worked for privately owned firms. Findings We found a three-way interaction effect between gender, career planning, and LMX quality in predicting subjective career success. As hypothesized, the positive relationship between quality of LMX and subjective career success was stronger for males with high career planning, whereas for females such a stronger relationship was found for women with low career planning. Research limitations/implications This study contributes to the literature in two ways. First, it extends career research by considering the interactive effects of individual and interpersonal factors on employees’ subjective career success. Second, it combines the research streams of social exchange theory (LMX), career theory (the boundaryless career), and gender theory (agentic and communal personality traits). This suggests that the ideas of the three theories could serve together as a useful framework for explaining gender differences in subjective career success through setting career goals and building relationships with supervisors. Practical implications The findings have important practical implications for managers and leaders, who generally seek to motivate their employees towards career achievement. Originality/value This study is one of the first to provide a new perspective for understanding the process by which men and women perceive their subjective career success differently with regard to social exchange relations with their supervisors and career planning.