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Careers in a non‐Western context: An exploratory empirical investigation of factors related to the career success of Chinese managers

Howard S. Tu (Fogelman College of Business and Economics, The University of Memphis,Memphis, Tennessee, USA)
Monica L. Forret (St. Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa, USA)
Sherry E. Sullivan (Bowling Green State University, Department of Management, College of Business, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 1 December 2006




The aim of this paper is to conduct an exploratory empirical examination to determine if factors (e.g. demographic, human capital, motivational, and organizational) associated with career success in Western countries are also related to the career outcomes of Chinese managers.


Survey data were obtained from 139 managers working in China. Correlation and regression analyses were performed to examine the relationship among common predictors of career success and the actual outcomes of Chinese managers.


Predictors of two career outcomes were explored: total compensation and career satisfaction. Although some of the findings were similar to the findings of studies on the career outcomes of managers in Western countries, there were some surprising differences. The results showed that women and top‐level decision makers had higher total compensation. Furthermore, holding a middle management (as opposed to a line management) position, and perceptions that one's organization was successful were associated with greater career satisfaction.

Research limitations/implications

The difficulties of conducting research in another country, especially one under communist rule, resulted in a relatively small sample size, which may limit the generalizability of the findings.

Practical implications

Knowledge of the career processes of Chinese managers is important for the growing number of Western firms investing in and conducting business in China as well as for Chinese firms in their attempts to increase their efficiency and productivity.


Although there have been calls to expand research on careers outside the West, to date there are few published studies on the career experiences of those in Asian countries, especially in China. This research highlights the importance of country context in the study of careers in non‐western settings and tests the generalizability of Western findings on career success.



Tu, H.S., Forret, M.L. and Sullivan, S.E. (2006), "Careers in a non‐Western context: An exploratory empirical investigation of factors related to the career success of Chinese managers", Career Development International, Vol. 11 No. 7, pp. 580-593.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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