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Forget about the money? A latent profile analysis of calling and work motivation in Chinese employees

Chunyu Zhang (School of Psychology, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an, China)
Andreas Hirschi (Institute of Psychology, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 19 January 2021

Issue publication date: 4 May 2021




Calling is typically associated with more intrinsic than extrinsic work motivation. This could give the impression that employees with a calling do not need or care about external rewards. To deepen the understanding of the relationship between calling and work motivation, the purpose of this paper is to test how calling is combined with different types of work motivation and how such combinations affect work outcomes differentially.


The authors applied latent profile analysis among Chinese employees with diverse occupations (N = 1,290), to identify calling and work motivation profiles and test their relations with work outcomes, assessed four months later.


Four profiles emerged: externally motivated low calling, moderately externally motivated calling, moderately motivated calling and highly motivated calling. Employees with weaker and stronger callings indicated being extrinsically motivated for work. Employees in the highly motivated calling profile exhibited highest job satisfaction, lowest cynicism and lowest turnover intentions, followed by employees in the moderately motivated calling profile, the moderately externally motivated calling profile and the externally motivated low calling profile.

Research limitations/implications

The findings imply that employees with a strong calling do care about external rewards and also benefit from external incentives to work.


This study is the first to explore the differential relationship between calling and work motivation. Moreover, the findings offer insights regarding the under-researched notion that different types of calling predict work outcomes differently.



National Natural Science Foundation of China: 71702092; The Humanity and Social Science Foundation of Ministry of Education of China: 17XJC190008; China Postdoctoral Science Foundation: 2016M590917; Postdoctoral Science Foundation of Shaanxi Province: 2017BSHYDZZ55.


Zhang, C. and Hirschi, A. (2021), "Forget about the money? A latent profile analysis of calling and work motivation in Chinese employees", Career Development International, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 105-118.



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