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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: konghaiyan@sdu.edu.cn, sdkhy@tom.com (H. Kong),
hmcat@polyu.edu.hk (C. Cheung), hmsong@polyu.edu.hk (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-
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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.
It is also suggested that researchers could explore the relationship between the demographic characteristics of hotel managers
and career competencies, career commitment, and perceived hotel
career management. Previous study on demographic characteristics of managers has shown that age has a significant effect on
network diversity (Lambert et al., 2008), and career competencies
may vary based on job tenure (Kong et al., 2010). These findings
provide important insight into the determinants of career competencies. Lastly, there are opportunities for future research to further
explore the influence of demographic factors on career competencies, career commitment, and perceived hotel career management
practices.
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