The psychometric evaluation and predictors for two subjective career success instruments
Du Toit, Audine Marlé
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Subjective career success has been the focus of research for a number of years. The term refers to the individual’s personal perception of how successful he/she is in a career. In many qualitative studies subjective career success is found to be a multi-dimensional construct. Although there are quantitative instruments that measure subjective career success, they do not measure the construct on multiple dimensions. The first objective of this study was to determine the validity and reliability of two existing multi-dimensional instruments that measure subjective career success, especially in the South African context. These are the Perceived Career Success Scale (Gattiker & Larwood, 1986) and the Life-success Measures Scale (Parker & Chusmir, 1992). The second objective was to determine which predictors can be found for subjective career success. Literature differentiates between three broad categories of variables, namely demographical (gender, language group, marital status and age), human capital (job tenure, level of education and career planning) and organisational variables (perceived organisational support and training, and development opportunities). A convenience sample of 754 personnel from the South African Police Service was taken at stations and training colleges in the Free State, South Africa. A measuring battery that assesses subjective career success was used. This entailed the Perceived Career Success Scale as well as the Life-success Measures Scale. In addition, questions were used to ascertain the three types of variables demographic (gender, language group, marital status and age), human capital (job tenure, level of education and career planning) and organisational variables (perceived organisational support and training and development opportunities). The following statistical analyses were done to analyse the data: descriptive and inferential statistics, Cronbach’s alpha coefficients, product-moment correlations, confirmatory factor analysis and linear regression analysis. The results of these analyses indicate that subjective career success is indeed a multi-dimensional construct. Three dimensions (job success, interpersonal success and non-organisational success) of the Perceived Career Success Scale (Gattiker & Larwood, 1986) could be established. These dimensions yielded good reliability, but the validity remained problematic. In contrast, the Life-success Measures Scale (Parker & Chusmir, 1992) yielded four dimensions (security, social contribution, professional fulfilment and personal fulfilment). The psychometric properties of these dimensions were acceptable and showed to be reliable and valid. In addition, various demographic, human capital and organisational variables were found to be predictors of subjective career success. Career planning, training and developmental opportunities, as well as perceived organisational support, explained the most variance. Various recommendations were made for the context of the South African Police Service, and also for future research. The organisation is advised to apply the results from this study to adjust policies and practices in such a way that employees will experience higher levels of subjective career success. Furthermore, career discussions may be held in order to enhance opportunities for career planning and provide opportunities for relevant training and development that are aligned to the business drive of the organisation. Interventions that will increase perceived organisational support and congenial relationships could be implemented and maintained. More research on the two subjective career success measures is needed, in order to 1) verify the validity of the Perceived Career Success Scale and 2) to apply it and the Life-success Measures Scale to other sectors and industries. It is also recommended that a more heterogeneous sample be utilised as well as longitudinal research designs in future research studies relating to subjective career success.