To read this content please select one of the options below:

Career adaptability and the success of self-initiated expatriates in China

Milad Jannesari (School of Business, Zhejiang University City College, Hangzhou, China)
Sherry E. Sullivan (Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 13 August 2019

Issue publication date: 22 August 2019




Using a career lens, the purpose of this paper is to examine the psychological factors related to the career success (e.g. performance and adjustment) of self-initiated expatriates (SIEs).


This research examines the previously unstudied relationship between career adaptability and career success. Data were collected by surveying 273 SIEs employed in professional jobs in China.


As hypothesized, career adaptability was positively related to performance as well as to adjustment. Psychological availability mediated the relationships of career adaptability with performance and with adjustment. Contrary to expectations, supportive supervision did not moderate the relationship between career adaptability and either performance or adjustment.

Research limitations/implications

Because the data were collected in a single, self-report survey, future studies should collect longitudinal data so that the effects of changes in career adaptability on adjustment and performance can be determined. In addition, as all of the participants were professionals, future research should examine SIEs employed in blue-collar jobs.


As this is the first study to consider how career adaptability may influence SIEs’ performance and adjustment, it offers unique insights into the work experiences of SIEs. Additionally, this study examines the theoretical underpinnings of career construction theory, namely, the previously hypothesized but untested relationship between career adaptability and adjustment.



The authors thank S. Gayle Baugh for the insightful comments she provided on an earlier version of this paper. The authors greatly appreciate the guidance provided by the Editor Jim Jawahar. The authors thank the two anonymous reviewers whose valuable comments helped to improve the quality of this paper.


Jannesari, M. and Sullivan, S.E. (2019), "Career adaptability and the success of self-initiated expatriates in China", Career Development International, Vol. 24 No. 4, pp. 331-349.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles