International Journal of Hospitality Management 31 (2012) 76–85 Contents lists available at ScienceDirect International Journal of Hospitality Management journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/ijhosman From hotel career management to employees’ career satisfaction: The mediating effect of career competency Haiyan Kong a,∗ , Catherine Cheung b,1 , Haiyan Song b,2 a b Business School, Shandong University at Weihai, China, No.180 West Culture Road, Weihai, Shandong, China School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t Keywords: Mediating effect Career competency Career management Career satisfaction The purpose of this study is to explore the relationships between perceived hotel career management, career competency, and career satisfaction. It also aims to examine the mediating processes through which hotel career management contribute to employees’ career satisfaction. Results from structural equation modeling (SEM) show that career competency mediates the effects of three dimensions of hotel career management (career appraisal, career development, and career training) on career satisfaction. The article concludes with implications for theory development and management practice. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. 1. Introduction Enhancing employees’ career competency requires a cooperative relationship between hotel managers and hotel employees. From the employee perspective, successful career management emphasizes the possession of the requisite personal qualities, and thus career competency has become increasingly important (Arthur et al., 1999). From the hotel perspective, helping staff to develop their own careers and improving their career satisfaction is an effective means of attracting and retaining qualiﬁed staff members (Barnett and Bradley, 2007; Wong et al., 1999). Nowadays, most organizations work as enablers in the career management system by supporting employees’ career development (Baruch, 2006). Effective hotel career management can contribute to the development of employees’ career competency, thereby improving their career satisfaction. It would thus be useful to explore the mediating effect of career competency on the relationship between hotel career management and career satisfaction. Attracting and retaining qualiﬁed talent is a major issue in the hospitality industry today. Over the past three decades, China has experienced the rapid and steady development of its hospitality industry. In response to the fast increases in the numbers of inbound and domestic tourists, China’s hotel industry has expanded signiﬁcantly. This rapid development has led to an increasing demand for high-quality hotel staff. However, hotels in China are encountering many problems in recruiting and retaining the best talent (Gu et al., 2006). As career development is an effective way of retaining and developing staff, it is important for hotels in China to practice effective career management. Career development aims to achieve gradual improvement by operating in harmony with efforts to enhance employees’ career competency. According to Arthur et al. (1995), personal competency reﬂects different forms of knowing, and intelligent careers reﬂect the application of these forms of knowing. They categorize career competency into three types: “knowing why”, “knowing whom”, and “knowing how”. The ﬁrst relates to career motivation, personal meaning, and identiﬁcation; the second concerns career-relevant networks and contacts; and the third involves career-relevant skills and job-related knowledge. ∗ Corresponding author. Tel.: +86 631 5897267; fax: +86 631 5688289. E-mail addresses: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org (H. Kong), email@example.com (C. Cheung), firstname.lastname@example.org (H. Song). 1 Tel.: +852 2766 4581; fax: +852 2362 9362. 2 Tel.: +852 2766 6372; fax: +852 2362 9362. 0278-4319/$ – see front matter © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.ijhm.2011.03.002 2. Literature review 2.1. Perceived hotel career management and career competency In today’s business environment, the organization plays an important role in career management systems, functioning as a supportive enabler and developer of its human assets (Baruch, 2006). Organizational career management (OCM), which is also known as “organizational support for career development” or “organizational sponsorship”, refers to the programs, processes, and assistance provided by organizations to support and enhance the career success of their employees (Ng et al., 2005; Orpen, 1994). The signiﬁcance of OCM to the career development of H. Kong et al. / International Journal of Hospitality Management 31 (2012) 76–85 employees’ career has become increasing important to the hotel industry. Hence, this study attempted to examine career management in hotels through employees’ perceptions of hotel career management (HCM) practices. Hotels can provide effective career management activities such as training, mentoring, performance appraisal, and development programs to their employees (Kong et al., 2010). These activities are beneﬁcial to the development of career competency. For example, performance appraisal can provide input to career planning, and may help employees to be better aware of their performances (Baruch, 2003). Mentoring plays an important role in directing career development and decision making (Ayres, 2006). The use of these career activities can provide employees feedback on their strengths, and subsequently related to the competency of “knowing why”, “knowing whom”, and “knowing how”. Employees obtaining feedback of their performance can develop speciﬁc career goals, leading to the “knowing why” career competency. In addition, mentoring and training provide networking opportunities (Higgins and Kram, 2001; O’Brien and Gardiner, 2006), and thus enhance the “knowing whom” competency. Organizational training and development programs can also enhance employees’ learning and the “knowing how” competency (Sullivan et al., 1998). All of the above relationship lead to the following prediction that: H1. Perceived hotel career management may contribute positively to career competency. 2.2. Career competency and career satisfaction Career satisfaction is the satisfaction that individuals derive from the intrinsic and extrinsic aspects of their careers, including pay, advancement, and developmental opportunities (Greenhaus et al., 1990). Employees’ perceived career satisfaction reﬂects how they feel about their career-related roles, accomplishments, and success. Career satisfaction is an important predictor of career success that has been conceptualized as comprising both extrinsic and intrinsic outcomes, and is thus measured using both objective and subjective indicators (Barley, 1989; Nabi, 1999; Stebbins, 1970). Objective career success indicates an external perspective that delineates more or less tangible indicators of an individual’s career situation (Arthur et al., 2005). Indicators of objective career success include salary (Tharenou, 2001), promotion (Judge et al., 1999), family structure (Schneer and Reitman, 1993), and job level (Judge and Bretz, 1994). Subjective career success is deﬁned as “individuals’ feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction with their careers” (Judge et al., 1995, p. 487), and is most often measured by career satisfaction (Judge et al., 1999; Ng et al., 2005). As objective career success comprises visible outcomes, it usually depends on a third-person perspective, and thus does not reﬂect an employee’s appraisal of his or her own success. In recent years, subjective measures of career success have become increasingly important (Arthur et al., 2005; Parker and Arthur, 2000), with career satisfaction being one of the most signiﬁcant predictors of career success. This study thus focused on employees’ career satisfaction. As stated, career competency comprises three types: “knowing why”, “knowing whom”, and “knowing how”. The “knowing-why” competency encompasses career insight, a proactive personality, and openness to experience. People who know themselves well are able to clarify their career aims (Suutari and Makela, 2007), while people with a proactive personality tend to seek opportunities and act on them (Bateman and Crant, 1993; Crant, 2000). Openness to experience refers to the degree to which individuals are curious, imaginative, creative, willing to accept changes, and accepting of diversity (Barrick and Mount, 1991; Goldberg, 1992; 77 Mignonac, 2008). Individuals who score highly on this trait tend to achieve higher levels of job performance and seek regular training and development opportunities to acquire transferable skills (Banai and Harry, 2004). It has also been found that employees with high job performance scores are perceived to have more favorable advancement prospects, which is associated with a higher level of career satisfaction (Igbaria and Wormley, 1992). The “knowing whom” competency relates to the career-related networks, mentoring, and contacts of an individual both inside and outside the organization (Arthur et al., 1995). Individuals in a mentoring relationship show great effectiveness in self-managing their own careers (Murphy and Ensher, 2001) and better career success (Janasz et al., 2003). Individuals often beneﬁt greatly from networks, as networking inside and outside the organization helps them to stay on top of new developments and approaches (Higgins and Kram, 2001). An employee can also gather careerrelevant information and social capital through networks (Moss and Barbuto, 2010). As both internal and external networking aid career development (Raider and Burt, 1996; Sturges et al., 2010), it is assumed that the “knowing whom” competency is an important predictor of career satisfaction. The “knowing how” competency involves career- or job-related skills and career identity. Career identity is the degree to which people immerse themselves in skill-enhancing and professional activities (London, 1993; Noe et al., 1990). As employee skills are an important predictor of job performance (Semadar et al., 2006), employees who are strong in a variety of skills are expected to receive better compensation and promotion opportunities (Todd et al., 2009), which increases their career satisfaction. Thus, the accumulation of career- or job-related skills may help to increase employee career satisfaction. This lead to the following prediction that: H2. Career competency may contribute positively to career satisfaction. 2.3. Perceived hotel career management and career satisfaction Hotels can enhance the career satisfaction of their employees by engaging in effective career management activities. It has been found that speciﬁc career management activities, such as job rotation schemes, are positively related to career satisfaction (Campion et al., 1994). Other career management practices, such as career sponsorship, training, and career development programs, also contribute positively to career satisfaction (Greenhaus et al., 1990; Ng et al., 2005). Organizations try to enhance employee career satisfaction by providing effective career support, such as training, performance appraisal, and challenging jobs (Burke, 2001; Burke and McKeen, 1995). This engenders a perception among employees of being supported by the organization, which leads to better career satisfaction and retention intention (Allen et al., 2004; ArmstrongStassen and Ursel, 2009; Baruch and Rosenstein, 1992). Therefore it is hypothesized that: H3. Perceived hotel career management may contribute positively to career satisfaction. 2.4. Mediating effect of career competency In addition to its direct inﬂuence on career satisfaction, career competency may mediate the relationship between hotel career management and career satisfaction. The function of a mediator represents the generative mechanism through which the focal independent variable is able to inﬂuence the dependent variable of interest (Baron and Kenny, 1986). There are two forms of mediation: full mediation and partial mediation. When the direct effect between the independent variable and the depen- 78 H. Kong et al. / International Journal of Hospitality Management 31 (2012) 76–85 Fig. 1. Proposed conceptual framework. dent variable is no longer statistically different from zero after controlling for the mediator variable, the effect is said to be one of full mediations. However, if the absolute size of the direct effect between the independent variable and the dependent variable is reduced after controlling for the mediator variable but the direct effect is still signiﬁcant, then the mediation effect is regarded as partial. As many previous studies, such as those of Allen et al. (2004), Campion et al. (1994), Greenhaus et al. (1990), and Ng et al. (2005), have found that organizational career support contributes signiﬁcantly to career satisfaction, this study focused on the partial mediation effect of career competency. As shown in Fig. 1, it is posited that, in addition to its direct effect on career satisfaction, career competency acts as a mediator of the relationship between hotel career management and employee career satisfaction. Effective hotel career support activities invoke career competency in various ways. For example, mentoring helps individuals to build “knowing why” and “knowing whom” competency (Baruch, 2003). These career competencies in turn enable individuals to identity opportunities, take action to achieve their career goals, and thus experience career satisfaction (Crant, 2000; Raider and Burt, 1996). In sum, hotel career management activities provide appropriate organizational support for employees to secure better career satisfaction by enhancing their career competency. Therefore it is deducted that: H4. Career competency may mediate the relationship between perceived hotel career management and career satisfaction. 3. Research methodology This study collected data to test the hypotheses developed in the foregoing section through a questionnaire survey. Perceived hotel career management was measured using 13 items developed by Kong et al. (2011). Two sample items included in the questionnaire to measure the organizational career management construct were “I have attended training programs that have helped to develop my career” and “I have been given clear feedback on my performance”. Career competency was assessed using items adopted from the study of Eby et al. (2003). Sample items include “I have speciﬁc career goals and a career plan”, “I seek out opportunities for continuous learning in my career”, and “I am well connected within the hotel”. Career satisfaction was measured using a ﬁve-item measurement developed by Greenhaus et al. (1990). The measurement items were “I am satisﬁed with the success that I have achieved in my career”, “I am satisﬁed with the progress that I have made towards meeting my overall career goals”, “I am satisﬁed with the progress that I have made towards meeting my goals for income”, “I am satisﬁed with the progress that I have made towards meeting my goals for advancement”, and “I am satisﬁed with the progress that I have made towards meeting my goals for the development of new skills”. All of the items were measured using a seven-point Likert-type scale that ranged from 1 (disagree strongly) to 7 (agree strongly). Based on quota sampling, data were collected from a target sample of hotel managers in China. The Yearbook of China Tourism Statistics 2009 published by the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA) was used as the sampling frame. A total of 52 four- and ﬁve-star hotels were identiﬁed in 17 of the main tourist cities in China. Two methods were employed to collect the data. First, the researcher approached a large number of the selected hotels (31 hotels), and with the help of the marketing or human resources manager, distributed a self-administered questionnaire that was completed by the respondents and collected on the spot by the researcher. For hotels that were far from the authors’ institution, 20 general managers or human resource managers were contacted by email or phone. Once they had agreed to assist with the survey, the questionnaires were emailed to the target hotels. A total of 630 questionnaires were collected, giving a response rate of 70%. The data were screened and puriﬁed to ensure that the dataset met the requirements for SEM analysis. After the deletion of missing data and outliers, 600 valid questionnaires were retained. On testing, they were found to follow a multivariate normal distribution. The respondents were varied in terms of age, education level, job position, work area, and work experience. Fifty-one per cent of the respondents were male and 49% were female. The average age of the respondents was 38, with a working experience of 6–10 years in the hospitality industry. Over 78% had completed collegelevel education or above, indicating that a large proportion were well educated. The great majority of the respondents (97%) were department managers or supervisors. They generally had a wide range of duties and served in the food and beverage, sales and marketing, housekeeping, front ofﬁce, human resources, accounting, security, engineering, public relations, purchasing, recreation, or other departments. In accordance with previous studies, such as those of Aryee et al. (1994), Judge et al. (1995), and Noe (1996), several control variables were included in the study. As age, gender, education, and salary may be associated with perceptions of career satisfaction, these variables were controlled in all of the analyses. Likewise, career competency may vary based on individual job tenure (as measured in years), and hotel career management activities may be different depending on the size of the hotel (as measured by star rating). These variables were thus also treated as control variables. The individual measurement model was tested using exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and conﬁrmatory factor analysis (CFA). The purpose of the EFA was to ﬁnd groups of variables that represent an underlying dimension, whereas that of the CFA was to specify the relationships between the observed measures and their posited underlying factors. EFA with varimax rotation was considered an appropriate ﬁrst step to simplify the interpretation of the identiﬁed factors and to determine the major constructs in the data (Field, 2005; Tabachnick and Fidell, 2007). Cross-validation was conducted to prove that the data structure was representative of the population. Following Hair et al. (2009), the entire dataset was randomly split into two equal subsets of 300 for the EFA and CFA, respectively. For each measurement model, EFA with varimax rotation was ﬁrst conducted with one subset, followed by CFA at a later stage with the other subset. Finally, structural equation modelling (SEM) was conducted with the entire data to test the relationships among the constructs. H. Kong et al. / International Journal of Hospitality Management 31 (2012) 76–85 4. Results 4.1. Individual measurement model 4.1.1. EFA and CFA of perceived hotel career management EFA of the 13 hotel career management items was conducted, and three dimensions were identiﬁed: career appraisal and advice, career development programs, and career training. As shown in Table 1, the three factors explained 65.92% of the total variance. The result of Bartlett’s test of sphericity was signiﬁcant, and the Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin (KMO) measure of sampling adequacy was 0.89, indicating that the patterns of correlations were relatively compact and generated distinct and reliable factors (Field, 2005). The Cronbach’s alpha of the full scale was 0.90, and that for the three factors ranged from 0.81 to 0.87, all of which exceed the minimum standard for reliability (0.70) recommended by Nunnally (1978). It can thus be concluded that the items comprising the three dimensions were internally consistent and stable, and together formed a reliable scale. CFA was then carried out to test the construct of perceived hotel career management, which comprised the three factors of career appraisal, career development, and career training. Based on the model ﬁt indices (2 = 278.58, df = 62, CFI = 0.92, GFI = 0.90, RMSEA = 0.09), it can be concluded that the model ﬁt the data acceptably well. When checking the validity of a measurement model, in addition to the goodness-of-ﬁt indices it is important to ﬁnd speciﬁc evidence of construct validity (Hair et al., 2009). The convergent validity of hotel career management was thus assessed by the size of the factor loadings and their statistical signiﬁcance level. Table 2 shows the estimate, standardized factor loading, critical ratio (CR), and squared multiple correlations (SMC) between each variable and all of the other variables. All of the standardized loading estimates exceeded 0.5 and were statistically signiﬁcant (as indicated by the CR values of greater than 1.96) (Byrne, 2001). It can thus be concluded that the convergent validity of the perceived hotel career management construct is satisfactory (Anderson and Gerbing, 1988; Hair et al., 2009). The average variance extracted (AVE) was also used to test for both convergent validity and discriminant validity. The AVE values of appraisal, development, and training were 0.57, 0.51, and 0.63, respectively. As all of these values are greater than 0.50, a high level of convergent validity is indicated. In addition, the AVE for each construct was greater than the squared correlation coefﬁcients for the corresponding inter-constructs, indicating satisfactory discriminant validity (Fornell and Larcker, 1981). 4.1.2. EFA and CFA of career competency EFA with varimax rotation was conducted, which yielded ﬁve items that explained 61.11% of the total variance. A series of factor analyses identiﬁed eight factors labeled career insight, proactive personality, openness to experience, mentoring, networks within the hotel, networks outside the hotel, career/job-related skills, and career identity. The result of Bartlett’s test of sphericity was significant and the KMO measure of sampling adequacy was 0.93 (Field, 2005). The Cronbach’s reliability scores of the factors ranged from 0.78 to 0.90, indicating satisfactory internal consistency. After the EFA analysis, CFA was conducted. The career competency construct was complex, with more than one level of latent variables. Four approaches are normally used to deal with complex structural models: total disaggregation, partial disaggregation, total aggregation, and partial aggregation (Bagozzi and Edwards, 1998). A partial aggregation model is deemed appropriate when the focus is on a higher level of abstraction, rather than the speciﬁc components (Bagozzi and Edwards, 1998). When items within components are aggregated the aggregates can be used as indicators of the components. 79 The ﬁt indices of the career competency model were 2 = 114.67, df = 17, CFI = 0.93, GFI = 0.93, and RMSEA = 0.08, indicating that the model ﬁt the data reasonably well. All of the standardized estimates were statistically signiﬁcant at the p < 0.05 level. As shown in Table 3, the effects of career competency on “knowing why”, “knowing whom”, and “knowing how” were statistically significant, with standard regression weights of 0.98, 0.99, and 0.94, respectively. The AVE values of “knowing why”, “knowing whom”, and “knowing how” were 0.56, 0.51, and 0.57, respectively, indicating satisfactory convergent validity. Moreover, the AVE value for each construct was greater than squared correlation coefﬁcients for the corresponding inter-constructs, indicating satisfactory discriminant validity (Fornell and Larcker, 1981). 4.1.3. EFA and CFA of career satisfaction The underlying structure of the relationships of the career satisfaction construct was identiﬁed by EFA. The ﬁve items explained 74.76% of the total variance. The result of Bartlett’s test of sphericity was signiﬁcant, and the KMO measure of sampling adequacy was 0.87. The Cronbach’s alpha of the scales was 0.92, which is above the minimum standard for reliability (0.70). It can thus be concluded that the items in the career satisfaction construct are internally consistent and form a reliable scale. The ﬁve items identiﬁed by EFA were then further examined using CFA. The results indicated that the model ﬁt the data fairly well (2 = 9.0, df = 4, CFI = 0.99, GFI = 0.99, RMSEA = 0.06). The convergent validity of career satisfaction was assessed based on the size of the factor loadings and their level of statistical signiﬁcance. As shown in Table 4, all of the standardized loading estimates exceeded 0.50, and their respective absolute t-value was greater than 1.96, indicating a high level of convergent validity (Anderson and Gerbing, 1988; Hair et al., 2009). The AVE value of career satisfaction was 0.63, which is greater than 0.50 and the square of the correlation estimate between these measures. The convergent and discriminant validity of the career satisfaction construct are thus conﬁrmed. 4.2. Overall measurement model The overall measurement model was examined after testing the ﬁt and construct validity of each individual measurement model. The EFA of perceived hotel career management suggested the three dimensions of career appraisal, career development, and career training. The overall measurement model was thus tested with these three dimensions using the entire sample. The goodness-of-ﬁt indices (2 = 898.93, df = 179, CFI = 0.93, GFI = 0.91, RMSEA = 0.07) all indicated a fairly good ﬁt between the model and the sample data. As shown in Table 5, the reliability of each construct ranged from 0.82 to 0.91, with all values exceeding 0.70. The AVE value for each construct exceeded 0.50 and was greater than the squared correlation. Hence, both the convergent and discriminant validity are satisfactory. 4.3. Structural model The ﬁnal structural model was tested using the AMOS software package. The model ﬁt indices were 2 = 723.94, df = 177, CFI = 0.95, GFI = 0.92, and RMSEA = 0.06. The CFI and GFI values indicate that the model adequately ﬁt the data. The RMSEA value for the hypothesized model was 0.06, with a 90% conﬁdence interval ranging from 0.06 to 0.08, indicating that one can be 90% conﬁdent that the true RMSEA value in the population will fall within the bounds of 0.058–0.067, which represents a good degree of precision (MacCallum et al., 1996). Thus, based on the CFI, GFI, and RMSEA values, the structural model can be considered to ﬁt the 80 H. Kong et al. / International Journal of Hospitality Management 31 (2012) 76–85 Table 1 EFA results for perceived hotel career management. Item Factor Factor 1: career appraisal OCM7: career discussion OCM5: clear feedback OCM6: career advice OCM4: 360◦ appraisal OCM8: induction Factor 2: career development OCM12: dual ladders OCM9: job rotation OCM10: succession plan OCM3: ﬁnancial support OCM11: job posting Factor 3: career training OCM1: external visits and study OCM2: career workshop OCM13: in-house training Eigen-value Variance explained (%) Reliability alpha (˛) 3.19 24.53 0.87 3.02 23.25 0.81 2.36 18.14 0.84 0.76 0.76 0.73 0.72 0.63 0.80 0.79 0.72 0.62 0.60 0.89 0.84 0.68 KMO = 0.89, Bartlett’s test of sphericity: 2 = 2699.54, df = 78, p < 0.000. Table 2 CFA results for perceived hotel career management. Factor 1: career appraisal Appraisal → HCM6 Appraisal → HCM5 Appraisal → HCM4 Appraisal → HCM7 Appraisal → HCM8 Factor 2: career development Development → HCM12 Development → HCM9 Development → HCM10 Development → HCM3 Development → HCM11 Factor 3: career training Training → HCM1 Training → HCM2 Training → HCM13 Estimate C.R. (t-value) Std. factor loading SMC 1.00 0.85 0.82 0.96 0.60 17.00 14.41 17.50 12.79 0.82 0.78 0.69 0.80 0.62 0.67 0.61 0.47 0.64 0.39 1.00 0.82 1.03 0.81 0.84 14.23 18.35 11.21 14.02 0.84 0.68 0.83 0.55 0.67 0.70 0.46 0.69 0.31 0.45 0.85 0.88 0.66 0.73 0.77 0.43 1.63 1.51 1.00 13.76 13.83 HCM, hotel career management. Table 3 CFA results for career competency. Career competency → knowing whom Career competency → knowing why Career competency → knowing how Estimate C.R. Std. factor loading SMC 0.74 0.59 0.67 14.17 15.78 13.46 0.99 0.98 0.94 0.98 0.95 0.89 Table 4 CFA results for career satisfaction. Estimate Career satisfaction → CS1 Career satisfaction → CS2 Career satisfaction → CS3 Career satisfaction → CS4 Career satisfaction → CS5 1.00 1.07 0.99 1.13 1.05 C.R. (t-value) Std. factor loading SMC 20.02 14.08 15.13 13.70 0.69 0.80 0.79 0.88 0.77 0.48 0.64 0.63 0.77 0.59 CS, career satisfaction. Table 5 Correlations (squared correlation), reliability, AVE, and mean. Construct Career appraisal Career development Career training Career competency Career satisfaction Career appraisal Career development Career training Career competency Career satisfaction Reliability AVE Mean Std. dev. 1.00 0.66 (0.44) 0.55 (0.30) 0.62 (0.38) 0.59 (0.35) 0.86 0.55 5.17 0.94 1.00 0.44 (0.19) 0.57 (0.32) 0.56 (0.31) 0.82 0.51 4.69 1.09 1.00 0.54 (0.29) 0.41 (0.17) 0.84 0.65 5.62 0.93 1.00 0.62 (0.38) 0.86 0.69 5.35 0.66 1.00 0.91 0.65 4.86 0.97 Note: all are signiﬁcant at the 0.01 level. H. Kong et al. / International Journal of Hospitality Management 31 (2012) 76–85 81 Fig. 2. Final structural model with path results. sample data fairly well. Fig. 2 shows the ﬁnal structural model with direct path results. As shown in Table 6, the path coefﬁcient value and signiﬁcance level together indicate that the structural paths are both positive and signiﬁcant, and thus that all of the direct positive relationships are supported. The model proposed that career competency has a mediating effect on the relationship between perceived hotel career management and career satisfaction. There are many methods to test mediation hypotheses, but some of the criteria can only be used to informally judge mediating effects. Baron and Kenny (1986) describe a procedure developed by Sobel (1982), which is referred to as the Sobel test. Various statistical methods based on this test have subsequently been popularized by researchers, including MacKinnon and Dwyer (1993) and MacKinnon et al. (1995). Among these various methods, the Sobel test seems to perform best in a Monte Carlo study (MacKinnon et al., 1995) and converges closely with a sample size of greater than 50 or above. The Sobel test was thus deemed appropriate for this study. Following the formulae of MacKinnon et al. (1995), the indirect effect was calculated as: indirect effect = a × b (where a is the path coefﬁcient of the association between the exogenous variable and the mediator and b is the path coefﬁcient of the association between the mediator and the outcome). The signiﬁcance level was calculated using the Sobel test. As shown in Table 6, the results of the analysis of the mediating effect of career competency on the relationship between career appraisal and career satisfaction were: indirect effect coefﬁcient = 0.15, t-value = 4.78, and p-value = 0.00. Similar signiﬁcant results were found in the indirect path linking career development and career satisfaction through career competency (indirect effect coefﬁcient = 0.08, t-value = 3.66, p-value = 0.00). Finally, the indirect effect coefﬁcient (0.15) and t-value (5.05) also supported the mediating effect of career competency on the relationship between career training and career satisfaction. All of the above indirect effect coefﬁcients were positive and signiﬁcant (p < 0.05), the results supported the mediating role of career competency. 5. Discussion of the ﬁndings This study developed a novel conceptual framework for understanding the partial mediating effect of career competency on the relationship between perceived hotel career management and career satisfaction. Hotel career management can directly inﬂuence employee career satisfaction. At the same time, it can also inﬂuence career satisfaction by enhancing career competency. Organizations can enhance employees’ career competency by promoting career management activities such as training and development programs (Sullivan et al., 1998), co-learning between coworkers (Hall and Mirvis, 1996), developmental assignments (Seibert, 1996), on-line Internet training, and career assessment (Baruch, 2003). All of the above activities help employees to remain marketable and up to date knowledge of current industry developments. Employees with a high level of marketability and current knowledge are likely to perceive high level of career satisfaction. Hence, effective career management increases employees’ competitive competency and career satisfaction, it can also contribute to the development of the competency of the ﬁrm as a whole and its host industry (Arthur et al., 1999; DeFillippi and Arthur, 1994). Clearly, it is important for hotels to support employees to improve their career competency and to achieve higher career satisfaction. The ﬁndings of this study provide strong evidence to support the proposed structural model and the posited relationships. To summarize, perceived hotel career management has a positive, direct effect on career competency; career competency has a positive, direct effect on career satisfaction; career appraisal, career development, and career training each has a positive, direct effect on career satisfaction; and career competency mediates the relationship between three dimensions of perceived hotel career management (career appraisal, career development, and career training) and career satisfaction. Of the three dimensions of perceived hotel career management, career training contributes the most to career competency, followed by career appraisal and career development. These ﬁndings are consistent with those of previous research (Kong et al., 2010), and they further highlight the importance of career training in the hotel industry in China (Kong and Baum, 2006). As career training plays an important role in career competency, it should be offered together with other career development activities to address the long-term career aspirations of employees. Career appraisal is also positively related to career satisfaction. This is probably because hotels in China have relatively comprehensive appraisal systems and use performance appraisal as a basis for employee career 82 H. Kong et al. / International Journal of Hospitality Management 31 (2012) 76–85 Table 6 Path results for the ﬁnal structural model (hypotheses testing). Hypotheses/path Coefﬁcient H1: Perceived hotel career management → career competency (1) Career appraisal → career competency 0.22 (2) Career development → career competency 0.12 (3) Career training → career competency 0.23 H2: Career competency has a positive effect on career satisfaction 0.67 H3: Perceived hotel career management has a positive effect on career satisfaction (1) Career appraisal → career satisfaction 0.21 (2) Career development → career satisfaction 0.15 (3) Career training → career satisfaction 0.06 H4: Mediating effect of career competency on relationship between perceived hotel career management and career satisfaction (1) Mediating effect of career competency on relationship between career appraisal and career satisfaction 0.15 (2) Mediating effect of career competency on relationship between career development and career satisfaction 0.08 (3) Mediating effect of career competency on relationship between career training and career satisfaction 0.15 * ** t-Value Results 6.02** 4.13** 6.59** 7.85** Supported Supported Supported Supported 3.68** 3.32** 1.17* Supported Supported Supported 4.78** 3.66** 5.05** Supported Supported Supported Parameter estimates signiﬁcant at p < 0.05. Parameter estimates signiﬁcant at p < 0.01. planning and further promotion (Kong et al., 2010). As career counseling by managers and mentoring are also positively related to skill development among employees (Chao et al., 1992; Williams et al., 2009), these activities should be considered when evaluating the potential of present or future managers. Career development activities are also signiﬁcantly related to career competency. This provides support for the positive effect of job rotation on skill enhancement (Azizi et al., 2010) and underlines the importance of speciﬁc career development practices, including job postings, job rotation, succession planning, dual ladders, and ﬁnancial support. Compared with the other two dimensions, career development makes the smallest contribution to career competency. However, as career development is one of the powerful motivators of hotel employees (Wong et al., 1999), a systematic development system could help hotels in China to attract and retain qualiﬁed hotel staff. Career appraisal makes the greatest contribution to career satisfaction, followed by career development and career training. This is probably because career appraisal is a valid and reliable tool for career planning, and career advice and mentoring provide useful information for career development (Baruch, 2003). Employees who discuss their careers more often by engaging in mentoring will receive more feedback which can give directions to future, and thus achieve higher levels of career satisfaction (Chao et al., 1992; Murphy and Ensher, 2001; Uhl-Bien and Green, 1998). Consistent with previous studies (Barnett and Bradley, 2007), this study further conﬁrms the important role of career appraisal in improving career satisfaction. This ﬁnding also highlights the importance of formal and informal mentoring, including career advice, career discussion, and clear work feedback, induction, and 360◦ performance appraisal. The positive relationships indicate that effective hotel career support can enhance employee career satisfaction. However, it is surprising to ﬁnd career training contributes the least to career satisfaction. This result should be carefully interpreted by hotel managers. As employees are eager to be educated and empowered with further training (Kong and Baum, 2006), it is critical for hotels to offer a variety of training programs in addition to pre-job and on-the-job training. Most importantly, career competency has a direct inﬂuence on career satisfaction, it also mediates the relationship between the three dimensions of hotel career management (career appraisal, career development, and career training) and career satisfaction. This study presents a ﬁrst step in empirical research on this topic, and provides initial evidence of the mediating effect of career competency. Building on the theory of Arthur et al. (1995), the ﬁndings reveal the importance of career competency and suggest that hotel managers will be better able to enhance their career competency to achieve higher career satisfaction when their career management is supported through hotel career activities such as mentoring, job rotation, and career appraisal. Both hotels and individual employees should thus adopt proactive and effective practices to improve career competency. Individuals need to be committed to their career and to navigate their own careers by identifying career goals, developing diverse networks, and engaging in continuous learning. 6. Theoretical and practical implications Theoretically, the results enrich the knowledge of careers by revealing the mediating effect of career competency. Although career competency has previously been found to be a signiﬁcant predictor of career satisfaction (Eby et al., 2003), empirical evidence of its mediating role is limited. This study ﬁnds that, in addition to being directly associated with career satisfaction, career competency mediates the relationship between perceived hotel career management and career satisfaction. The identiﬁcation of this mediating role provides a relational approach that emphasizes the function of the “knowing why”, “knowing whom”, and “knowing how” types of career competency. This study adds to the literature by developing three dimensions of hotel career management and examining their effects on career competency and career satisfaction. In addition to the general inﬂuence of hotel career management, this study explored the inﬂuence of each dimension on career competency and career satisfaction, respectively. Given the scarcity of research on hotel career management in China, the ﬁndings of this study constitute a significant addition to the literature and may serve as a foundation for future research. Practically, the ﬁndings should encourage hotels in China to retain qualify staff and enhance hotel core competency. By implementing effective career management, hotels in China will keep their core competency and also retain talented staff who contribute to that core competency, as the career competency of individuals adds to the core competency of an organization (Arthur et al., 1999). Nevertheless, to achieve such mutual beneﬁts, it is important for hotels to engage in career management activities that are consistent with the hotel’s objectives and needs. For example, as China is developing into a world-class tourist destination, hotel management that combines international and domestic human resources strategies and practices may become the best model for success. This would beneﬁt both hotels and hotel managers when clear career paths are provided to hotel managers. Such paths could lead hotel managers to work in different departments not only within a hotel but also within the multinational hotel groups. Overseas work experience and career opportunities would together enhance the career competency of employees, which could in turn achieve the competitive advantage of hotels in the market. H. Kong et al. / International Journal of Hospitality Management 31 (2012) 76–85 The ﬁndings of this study also suggest some effective ways in which employees can enhance their career competency and achieve a higher level of career satisfaction. First, the results highlight the importance employee participation in hotel career management activities. They also show that employees who are willing to engage in career-related activities are likely to have higher levels of career competency, and thus career satisfaction. Finally, the meditating effect of career competency highlights the importance of career competency in the career management system. Effective hotel career management makes a great contribution to career competency. Proactive and committed employees demonstrate the “knowing why”, “knowing whom”, and “knowing how” types of competency. Hotel employees should thus actively participate in the various career activities offered by their hotels, as this could help them to develop speciﬁc career goals, improve career-relevant skills, and widen their career-related networks. Clearly, both hotels and hotel employees need to pay more attention to the development of career competency. 7. Limitations and suggestions for future study A fundamental limitation of this study is related to the partial aggregation model, which obscures any distinctiveness among the components within a construct (Bagozzi and Edwards, 1998). As the construct of career competency is complex, and contains a large number of variables, partial aggregation was applied to simplify the model. The use of partial aggregation helps to deal with the complex model and to achieve the research objectives, but also limits the level of analysis to an overall model of second-order factors. To help overcome this limitation, future research is needed to explore the mediating effect of each dimension of career competency. Another limitation is related to the role of individual in developing employees’ career competency. As individual should also be responsible for career competency and career satisfaction, it would be interesting for future studies to explore the effect of the individual-related factors on career competency, and the ﬁndings could provide valuable implications for hospitality management. This study provides initial evidence that improves our understanding of the mediating effect of career competency, and has several implications for future research. Career competency is found to mediate the relationship between hotel career management and career satisfaction, which is one predictor of career success. However, there are many predictors of career success, such as salary (Tharenou, 2001), promotion (Judge et al., 1995), family structure (Schneer and Reitman, 1993), and job level (Judge and Bretz, 1994), and there is thus important for future research to explore the relationship between hotel career management and other kinds of dimensions of career success. Future research could also extend this study by further exploring the inﬂuencing factors and outcomes of career competency. Apart from the inﬂuencing effects of organizational and individual factors on career competencies, it is also important to examine the inﬂuence of work-life balance issues, government engagement, and Chinese culture factors on career competencies. In terms of outcomes, future research could examine the relationship between career competency and psychological and physical mobility, as suggested by Sullivan and Arthur (2006). It would also be of merit to explore the outcomes related to organizational competencies. According to Arthur et al. (1995), the career competencies of individuals complement the core competencies of organizations. The accumulation of competencies by employees can contribute signiﬁcantly to the unfolding competencies of the organization and its host industry (Arthur et al., 1999; DeFillippi and Arthur, 1994). Hence, the investment of an organization in the enhancement of its employees’ career competencies can result in a correspond- 83 ing enhancement of its core competencies. However, these claims rest mostly on theoretical work, and to date there is little systematic empirical evidence to conﬁrm them. Future empirical studies could determine the contributions of career competencies to organizational core competencies. Apart from this, will there be other potential outcomes? Thus, it should be interesting to further test the other outcomes of this model, such as job involvement and retention intention. As this study considers only hotels in China, a logical question is whether the results would be replicated in other hotels in different culture settings. This question represents an interesting and potentially important area for future research into the crossculture generalizability of career research (Sullivan, 1999; Sullivan and Baruch, 2009). It is important to explore career management systems and career competency across hotels of different ownership types and different settings. Such comparative results should provide further implications for career management in different cultures. Another interesting area for future research would be to examine the causal relationships between perceived hotel management and the second-order factors of career competency. As mentioned, using the partial aggregation technique makes it difﬁcult to determine the distinctiveness of the components within a construct (Bagozzi and Edwards, 1998). Given this limitation, future research should explore the respective effects of perceived hotel career management on each category of career competency (“knowing why”, “knowing whom”, and “know how”). For example, studies could examine whether perceived hotel career management equally inﬂuences the three forms of career competency, or could compare the relative importance of the three forms of career competency to career satisfaction. It is also worthwhile to determine whether there are gender differences in career competency in China. Women working in the hospitality industry constitute a signiﬁcant proportion of the labor force, but not many can reach top managerial positions, as they are often discouraged from applying for executive positions (Cooke, 2005). Previous studies have found that there are gender differences in relations to unemployment (Forret et al., 2010). To investigate this area further, future research could compare the gender difference on the “knowing why”, “knowing whom”, and “knowing how” types of competency. 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