Macquarie University
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Career adaptability issues in Chinese context: a mixed-methods study

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posted on 2023-01-19, 03:32 authored by Xueyuan Gao

This research program investigated how personal qualities impact on individual’s proactive behaviours to adapt to career development tasks. Using mixed-methodology, three empirical studies clarified mechanisms and boundary conditions. These studies offered insights into the influence of the Eastern Chinese social context on individual behaviours that differ from Western cultures. Paper One was a quantitative study. The primary objective of this study was to distinguish proactive career behaviours from organisational citizenship behaviours (OCBs) and further examine different mechanisms between calling and the two kinds of proactive behaviours. Evidence from time-lagged measures of a sample of 303 Chinese MBA students showed that both organisational and career identifications partially mediate the effect of calling on OCBs and proactive career behaviours. Further comparison results of the mediation effects demonstrated that organisational identification relates closely to OCBs while career identification relates closely to proactive career behaviours. To further provide evidence based on career construction theory, paper two examined effects of the combination between one’s career self-management willingness and ability. This paper linked career-related behaviours to organisational outcomes and examined the mechanism and boundary conditions from individual career adaptability to organisational performance. Results from a sample of 232 Chinese employees showed that career self-management had a partial mediation effect on the relationship between career adaptability and performance. The indirect effect of career adaptability on performance was stronger among proactive employees than those with lower levels of proactive personality. Finally, paper three narrowed down the study to the Chinese in a single cohort. By conducting 41 semi-structured interviews, paper three examined the role that career adaptability plays when individuals navigate career transitions through Chinese social constraints. Results indicated that system constraints, hukou restrictions and district attraction are three unique social constraints in this cohort in China. While using career adaptability resources to navigate career transitions, guanxi is an element that matters in the adaptation process. Taken together, this research program contributes to the understanding of relationships between personal qualities and proactive behaviours in the Chinese context. As a whole, the empirical studies investigated how personal calling, willingness, or career adaptability impact on career-related and organisation-related proactive behaviours differently. The present research shed light on the knowledge of Eastern social context on personal dispositions as well as proactive behaviours. Theoretical and practical implications, and future research directions are provided.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Overall Introduction -- Chapter 2: Paper One. Calling and proactive behaviours: identifications as mediators -- Chapter 3: Combine your “Will” and “Able”: Career adaptability’s influence on performance -- Chapter 4: Navigating career transitions in China: A career construction theory perspective -- Chapter 5: General discussion of the key findings -- Complete list of references -- Appendices


Cotutelle thesis in conjunction with Renmin University of China

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD

Department, Centre or School

Department of Management

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Denise Jepsen

Additional Supervisor 1

Laramie Tolentino

Additional Supervisor 2

Wenxia Zhou


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




246 pages