Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

An Explorative Study on Factors Influencing the Career Success of Management Employees

Academic journal article SA Journal of Industrial Psychology

An Explorative Study on Factors Influencing the Career Success of Management Employees

Article excerpt


Businesses constantly seek improved ways of achieving a competitive advantage in today's business environment. In this sense the knowledge and expertise of employees should be regarded as a critical strategic resource (Martins & Martins, 2011). It is thus imperative to retain those key employees who hold positions that are critical for the success of the organisation (e.g. those in managerial positions). However, the situation is that South African businesses are experiencing a general skills crisis by losing top talent or the knowledge workforce (also referred to as the 'brain drain') (Du Preez, 2002). Thus, major concerns are being raised about future career prospects for top talent in South African businesses. The government has intervened by imposing an array of mandatory regulations. However, businesses perceive some of these regulations (e.g. Black Economic Empowerment [BEE] and employment equity legislation) as impacting negatively on South African businesses in terms of global competitiveness, productivity and human development (Kruger, 2011; also Kerr-Phillips & Thomas, 2009). Therefore, retaining the talent is a macro-challenge for South African society and a micro-challenge for South African organisations, especially regarding management positions.

These retention challenges in the contemporary world of work have led to a renewed interest in career development and factors that influence individuals' commitment to an organisation (Coetzee & Gunz, 2012). However, career development, professional issues and organisational career interventions in the South African work environment seem to be under-researched (Coetzee & Gunz, 2012). There is a need for research that goes beyond merely supporting career development of individuals, for research involving the effect of employee development constructs on success in careers of workers (Maurer & Chapman, 2013).

Organisations should try to establish favourable organisational conditions and human resource practices that will address the varying career needs of a diverse workforce (Coetzee & Schreuder, 2009; Kniveton, 2004). This especially applies to employees in managerial positions, since no two managerial career paths are identical. Furthermore, several developmental milestones shape the human capital and motivation of these employees and thereby influence their perception of success in the workplace (Eddleston, Baldridge & Veiga, 2004). Sturges (1999) also postulates that the type of position a manager occupies may determine that person's perception of career success. This means that the managerial position as such does not determine how success is defined and attained.

Colakoglu (2011) reasons that the pursuit of boundaryless careers can support but also hinder individuals' career success. In a study done by McDonald and Hite (2008), young professionals indicate that to them career success is more complex than just reaching the highest rank on a particular ladder; it is influenced by various factors. By considering management employees' perceptions of the factors that influence their career success, organisations can try to establish these favourable working conditions, as well as constructive human resource practices which may help them to retain the top talent amongst South Africa's managers.

Research purpose and objectives

Extensive international research is available on factors influencing career success (for an overview see Ng, Eby, Sorensen & Feldman, 2005). Nevertheless, there seems to be a paucity of research into factors influencing career success, especially within the South African work setting. In an attempt to assist South African organisations with the retention of topclass employees, the purpose of this study was to identify specific factors that influence the career success of managers within the South African context, thereby helping to focus companies' retention strategies. The overall research question that guided this study was: What factors (given the South African context) influence the career success of managers in South Africa? …

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