Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology

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Volume 92 Issue 1 (March 2019), Pages i-iv, 1-224

Competition in career tournaments: Investigating the joint impact of trait competitiveness and competitive psychological climate on objective and subjective career success (pages 74-97)

This study investigates the joint impact of trait competitiveness (i.e., the enjoyment of interpersonal competition and the desire to win and be better than others) and competitive psychological climate (i.e., the degree to which employees perceive organizational rewards as contingent upon comparisons of their performance against that of their peers) on objective and subjective career success. Based on tournament and person–environment fit theory, we assumed that the positive effects of trait competitiveness on different indicators of objective (i.e., salary, promotions) and subjective (i.e., career satisfaction, internal marketability, and meaningful work) career success are stronger under conditions of a highly competitive psychological climate. Moderated regression analyses using data from a 6‐month time‐lagged study of 340 employees working in diverse occupational fields in their early careers revealed joint effects of the two competition variables. For both objective and subjective career success, the effect of trait competitiveness was strengthened under conditions of a highly competitive psychological climate. We discuss the results by integrating theoretical reasoning from a tournament and person–environment fit perspective on the attainment of career success. Practitioner points Organizations should be aware that competitive environments, and specifically their related perceptions, are only beneficial for some employees’ career success. Within perceived highly competitive organizational contexts, personnel selection and development should consider competitive traits of employees when deciding about hiring and career planning. Career counsellors may consider perceived organizational climates and competitive personal characteristics when objective career success and subjective career success are of topic in the counselling process.

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