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When pursuing more career, success hits home and job: examining the cost of vocational delay of gratification

Xiaoyan Liu (School of Management, Guangzhou University, Guangzhou, China)
Kun Yu (School of Labor and Human Resources, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 24 September 2021

Issue publication date: 14 October 2021




The purpose of the paper is to understand the detrimental effects of vocational delay of gratification (VDG) based on the ego-depletion perspective and to explore the specific mechanism in this dynamic process.


The study used experience sampling to survey 89 employees at 3 time points within each day over 10 days and built a 4-stage sequential mediation model.


Results revealed that, at the daily level, afternoon VDG had a positive effect on end-of-day work–family conflict through afternoon ego depletion. The work–family conflict continued the state of ego depletion to the next morning and led to poor job dedication the next morning.

Research limitations/implications

The findings suggest organizations and employees should consider not only the benefits of delay of gratification (DG) but the costs as well.


The current study is the first to investigate a dark side of VDG and to explore its underlying mechanism.



Funding: This article was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos 72171227 and 71802063).


Liu, X. and Yu, K. (2021), "When pursuing more career, success hits home and job: examining the cost of vocational delay of gratification", Career Development International, Vol. 26 No. 6, pp. 806-823.



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