Gender differences in career planning and success

Yuhee Jung (College of Business Administration, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan)
Norihiko Takeuchi (Waseda Business School, Waseda University, Tokyo, Japan)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Publication date: 14 March 2016



The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, it attempts to examine how employees’ career planning (CP) interacts with the quality of leader-member exchange (LMX) to explain subjective career success. Second, the authors investigate how the pattern of such interactions differs between male and female employees.


To increase the generalizability, the study tested hypotheses in two studies whose data were collected in different national settings. Study 1 was designed to analyze 144 Korean employees and Study 2 investigated 140 Japanese employees. Both groups of employees worked for privately owned firms.


The authors found a three-way interaction effect between gender, CP, and LMX quality in predicting subjective career success. As hypothesized, the positive relationship between quality of LMX and subjective career success was stronger for males with high CP, whereas for females such a stronger relationship was found for women with low CP.

Research limitations/implications

This study contributes to the literature in two ways. First, it extends career research by considering the interactive effects of individual and interpersonal factors on employees’ subjective career success. Second, it combines the research streams of social exchange theory (LMX), career theory (the boundaryless career), and gender theory (agentic and communal personality traits). This suggests that the ideas of the three theories could serve together as a useful framework for explaining gender differences in subjective career success through setting career goals and building relationships with supervisors.

Practical implications

The findings have important practical implications for managers and leaders, who generally seek to motivate their employees toward career achievement.


This study is one of the first to provide a new perspective for understanding the process by which men and women perceive their subjective career success differently with regard to social exchange relations with their supervisors and CP.



An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Fourth International Network of Business and Management Conference held in Barcelona, Spain, 2014. The authors thank Professor Lois Tetrick and two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on an earlier manuscript.

A part of this research was supported by the Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists (B) and by the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B) both sponsored by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, and Technology (MEXT), Japan, which were awarded to the first author (No. 00468828) and second author (No. 26285091), respectively.


Jung, Y. and Takeuchi, N. (2016), "Gender differences in career planning and success", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 603-623.

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