Zeitschrift für ArbeitsmarktForschung

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 195–206 | Cite as

The construct of career success: measurement issues and an empirical example

Research Paper


The aim of the present paper is twofold. We first give an overview of the multi-faceted construct of career success with its “objective” (real attainments) and “subjective” (perceived attainments) components and with the different methodologies measuring them (“subjectivist” vs. “objectivist” approaches). We also discuss the relationship between the different components of career success as revealed in the literature. Our second aim is to show that the interrelationship between the different facets of career success varies with the employment context. We analyze subjective and objective career success measures collected from professionals working either in the private sector, in the public sector, or that are self-employed. Our findings show that objective success and subjective success are more closely related in the private and self-employment sectors than in the public sector. Moreover, the interrelationship between objective and subjective success varies with the specific subjective success measure chosen. It is stronger for an “other-referent” subjective success measure than for a “self-referent” subjective success measure. Conclusions regarding the measurement of career success as well as regarding the relevance of subjective success for studying occupational careers are drawn.


Objective vs. subjective career success Self-referent vs. other-referent subjective success Interplay between objective and subjective success in different fields of employment 

Das Konstrukt des Berufserfolgs: Messmethoden und ein empirisches Beispiel


Der Beitrag verfolgt zwei Zielsetzungen. Wir geben zuerst einen Überblick über das facettenreiche Konstrukt des Berufserfolgs mit seiner „objektiven“ (tatsächliche Errungenschaften) und seiner „subjektiven“ (wahrgenommene Errungenschaften) Konnotation sowie mit verschiedenen Möglichkeiten der Messung („subjektivistische“ vs. „objektivistische“ Ansätze). Außerdem diskutieren wir den empirischen Zusammenhang zwischen den verschiedenen Komponenten. Unser zweites Ziel ist es, zu zeigen, dass der Zusammenhang zwischen subjektivem und objektivem Berufserfolg kontextspezifisch variiert. Wir analysieren Daten einer großen Stichprobe von Akademikern, die in der Privatwirtschaft, im öffentlichen Dienst oder selbständig/freiberuflich arbeiten. Es zeigt sich, dass der Zusammenhang zwischen subjektivem und objektivem Berufserfolg im öffentlichen Dienst kleiner ist als bei den beiden anderen Beschäftigungsformen. Außerdem variiert der Zusammenhang je nach Art der Messung von subjektivem Erfolg. Objektiver Erfolg und subjektiver Erfolg als Vergleichsurteil korrelieren stärker als objektiver Erfolg und subjektiver Erfolg als Zufriedenheitsurteil. Folgerungen für die Messung von Berufserfolg und für die Bedeutung subjektiven Erfolgs in der Berufslaufbahn werden abgeleitet.

JEL classification


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Copyright information

© Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chair of Social PsychologyUniversity of Erlangen-NurembergErlangenGermany

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