Unbundling subjective career success: a sequential mediation analysis

Zubeida Rossenkhan, Wee Chan Au, Pervaiz Khalid Ahmed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: This study aims to contribute to subjective career success (SCS) literature using sequential mediation modeling to interrogate the inter-relationships between dimensions of SCS, including interpersonal success, financial success, job success and hierarchical success. In doing so, the research provides a nuanced understanding of career behavior among young adults using the perspective of a non-western developing context. Design/methodology/approach: The study is operationalized using 342 survey questionnaires from Malaysian young working adults (18-34 years). Partial least square structural equation modeling is used as the main analytic tool. Findings: The results of the study revealed that dimensions of SCS were related in a sequential mediating manner. Specifically, an individual’s interpersonal success is the foundation for one to accomplish job tasks (job success), which then leads to increased prospects for promotion (hierarchical success) and subsequently financial success. Practical implications: These findings highlight the importance of interpersonal success as a foundation of career success and provide evidence for the study recommendation to support young working adults in building interpersonal relationships, which will help realize other forms of career success. However, the establishment of a sequential mediation pathway suggests that developing relationships alone are not sufficient. Study roles and tasks must also be designed to align with individuals’ personal goals for advancement and success. Originality/value: The research contributes to knowledge on understanding career behavior specifically relating to the dynamics and complexities of SCS. The study sheds light on the potential limitation of operationalizing SCS as a multi-dimensional aggregate construct and provides empirical support for the proposed sequential mediation model of SCS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-79
Number of pages20
JournalEuropean Business Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2021


  • Career behaviour
  • Careers
  • Malaysia
  • Multiple mediators
  • Relationships
  • Sequential mediation
  • Sequential mediation modelling
  • Social capital
  • Subjective career success
  • Young adults
  • Young working adults

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