This paper aims to explore the antecedents of careerist orientations to work. Hypotheses are drawn from referent cognitions theory. First, it is proposed that trust mediates the relationship between an individual's perceptions of procedural justice and their careerist orientations to work. Second, perceptions of distributive justice, regarding the allocation of career development opportunities, will moderate the relationship between trust and careerist orientations to work.
A total of 325 employees of a large UK financial institution completed a structured questionnaire. Regression analysis (using SPSS version 11) was used to test the presented hypotheses.
All hypotheses were confirmed. However, the interaction effect observed was different from that hypothesised. It appears that trust only matters, in terms of the development of careerist orientations to work, when individuals feel that they are receiving equitable career development opportunities.
Much more research is required in different organisational contexts if one is to fully confirm and understand these relationships. However, these findings suggest that employers will only reduce the development of careerist attitudes in their workforce if they ensure the fair distribution of career development opportunities and engender trusting relations through the implementation of fair decision‐making procedures.
This paper adds much needed empirical research to the literature on new career realities and careerist orientations to work. Moreover, referent cognitions theory is presented as a new theoretical framework for understanding the cognitive processes involved in an individual's development of careerist attitudes.
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