Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Career Plateau and Turnover Intention in Chinese Employees: Career Anchor as Moderator

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Career Plateau and Turnover Intention in Chinese Employees: Career Anchor as Moderator

Article excerpt

In recent years, work environments have been reshaped by factors such as advanced technologies and global competition. Consequently, organizational structures are becoming flatter with fewer hierarchical levels, and the competition for upward mobility is becoming more intense (McCleese, Eby, Scharlau, & Hoffman, 2007). As a result, many employees may perceive a high level of career plateau (Bardwick, 1986; Feldman & Weitz, 1988), which refers to the feeling of staying too long in the same position without receiving further opportunities and challenges (Ettington, 1998). Career plateau is viewed as unfavorable and harmful for both employees and organizations (Ference, Stoner, & Warren, 1977; Gaertner & Nollen, 1989). For example, Chao (1990) demonstrated that career plateau negatively correlated with work satisfaction and organizational commitment, and Tremblay, Roger, and Toulouse (1995) found that career plateau had a negative relation with work attitudes.

Career Plateau and Turnover Intention

Over the past four decades scholars have devoted significant effort to studying the turnover process, which refers to the voluntary separation between employees and organizations. One influential model was proposed by Mobley (1977), and highlighted the importance of job satisfaction. In subsequent studies, scholars added organizational commitment to this model and showed that both variables have unique contributions to turnover intention (Hom, Caranikas-Walker, Prussia, & Griffeth, 1992). In short, in these theories, researchers suggest that when employees are not satisfied with their current job and/or have a low level of commitment to the organization, they will show a high level of turnover intention, which leads them to take actual turnover actions.

Career plateau reflects a low likelihood of receiving advanced assignments, responsibilities, or challenges (Feldman & Weitz, 1988). When individuals perceive a career plateau, they may feel that it will be difficult to achieve their career goals under the current circumstances. Career plateau also reflects the fact that employees receive little support and recognition from their supervisors and organizations (Bardwick, 1986; Ference et al., 1977; Lapalme, Tremblay, & Simard, 2009). According to social exchange theory (Blau, 1964), employees with a high level of perceived career plateau may experience a low level of job satisfaction and low commitment to their organization, and this has been demonstrated in previous studies (Chao, 1990; Tremblay et al., 1995). A low level of both job satisfaction and organizational commitment may further motivate employees to form a high level of turnover intention. Indeed, previous researchers have empirically demonstrated a positive relationship between career plateau and turnover intention (Heilmann, Holt, & Rilovick, 2008; Tremblay et al., 1995). Consistent with these results, we proposed that:

Hypothesis 1: Perceived career plateau will be positively related to turnover intention.

The Moderating Role of Career Anchor in Challenge

Although career plateau has been revealed as an important predictor for turnover intention, the reported effects of career plateau are inconsistent across studies (Lapalme et al., 2009). As Ettington (1998) indicated, there may exist important boundary conditions for the effects of career plateau and it is necessary to examine the role of moderating factors, such as individual characteristics, when qualifying the way career plateau affects work-related attitudes. Little research has been done to examine the individual moderators that influence the relation between career plateau and other outcome variables. In the era of the boundaryless career, individuals have increased autonomy and personal control over their career development, and thus their career preferences play an important role in this development (Hall & Mirvis, 1995). For example, individuals' career adaptability and passion for their career play an important role in their professional competence development and job search success (Guan, Deng et al. …

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