iBusiness, 2010, 2, 389-394
doi:10.4236/ib.2010.24051 Published Online December 2010 (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ib)
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. iB
Career Success of Knowledge Workers: The
Effects of Perceived Organizational Support and
Person-Job Fit
Yu Chen
Zhejiang Gongshang University, Hangzhou, China.
E-mail: yuchensf@163.com
Received July 1st, 2010; revised August 15th, 2010; accepted October 3rd, 2010.
The purpose of this paper is to review relevant literatures on career success and develop a theoretical framework and
testable propositions concerning how person-job t and perceived organizational support relate to career success.
Keywords: Knowledge Workers, Perceived Organizational Support, Person-Job Fit
1. Introduction
There has been more information produced in the last 60
years than during the previous 2000 years. Information is
very important to everyone. We define the people who
access and use significant portions of this exploding in-
formation resource as knowledge workers. Success for
the organizations will be based not just on what the
growing number of knowledge workers know, but on
how fast they can learn and share their knowledge, the
latter is related.
Knowledge workers are unlike previous generations of
worker, not only because of their access to educational
opportunities, but because they own the means of pro-
duction, i.e., knowledge that is located in brains, dia-
logue and symbols [1]. The most important contribution
management needs to make in 21st century is to increase
the productivity of knowledge work and knowledge
workers [2]. As a consequence, productivity is dependent
on the contributions of specialist knowledge workers [3].
Among the more widely-accepted conceptualizations
of career is that of Hall [4] who defines a career as a se-
quence of related work experiences and activities, di-
rected at personal and organizational goals, through
which a person passes during his or her lifetime, that are
partly under their control and partly under that of others.
We view knowledge workers’ career as ongoing se-
quence of education and job activities that are meaning-
ful to the individuals and that add value to the organiza-
tions in which the individuals participate. This is due to
the general recognition that these concepts have impor-
tant implications for individual behaviors and work out-
comes and both affect the implementation process of the
psychological employment contract.
Career success is a way for individuals to fulfill their
need for achievement and power. Because it improves
people’s quantity or quality of life, the study of who can
get ahead and why is of interest and value .Career success
has received significant attention in studies of the organ-
izational behaviors. Research on career success benefits
not only individuals but also organizations. At the indi-
vidual level, career success refers to acquisition of materi-
alistic advancement, power, happiness and satisfaction.
Knowledge of career success helps individuals develop
appropriate strategies for career development. At the or-
ganization level, knowledge of the predictors of career
success helps human resource managers design effective
career systems. A number of competing approaches have
been identified to explain career success predictors. The
three well-known approaches are the individual, the struc-
tural, and the behavioral perspectives [5,6].
2. Career Success and Person-Job Fit
Career success and person-environment t have received
significant attention in studies of the workplace.
Person-environment (PE) t is dened as the compati-
bility that occurs when individual and work environment
characteristics are well matched [7]. In light of the PE t
studies, multiple perspectives and constructs of t have
emerged to include person-job (PJ) t, person-career (PC)
Career Success of Knowledge Workers: The Effects of Perceived Organizational Support and Person-Job Fit
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. iB
t, person-person (PP) t, person-group (PG) t, person-
organization (PO) t and person-culture (PC) t [7-11].
In particular, researchers have suggested that different
types of t that fall under the notion of PE t play sig-
nificant roles in job or career choice decisions and that
each form of t is considerably influential in areas such
as job satisfaction, performance, commitment and ca-
reer-related outcomes [7,12-14]. For example, Cennamo
[15] investigated generational differences in person or
ganization values t. They found a lack of P-O values t
may lead to reduced job satisfaction and commitment
and increased leaving intentions. The values held by in-
dividuals were less important for outcomes than percep-
tions of what organizations supplied, at least for extrinsic
and status values.
Person-job t is dened as the t between the abilities
of a person and the demands of the job or the needs/de-
sires of a person and the attributes of the job [16].
We view a person’s career as an ongoing sequence of
education and job activities that are meaningful to the
individual and that add value to the organizations in
which the individual participates. Therefore, our interest
lies predominately with specific notions fit. We specially
focus on person-job fit since it impacts job outcomes and
relates to career success. This is also due to the general
recognition that person-job fit has important implications
for individual behaviors and work outcomes. Wheeler,
A.R., [17] examined the relationship between person-job
t, job satisfaction, perceived job mobility, and intent to
turnover. They found that decreases in person-job t,
which led to decreases in job satisfaction, were more
likely to result in increases in intent to turnover if the
individual also perceived alternative job opportunities.
Previous person-job fit literature has found that work-
ers will establish an equilibrium state between their
needs and the supplies within their job environment. This
equilibrium results in certain levels of career satisfaction
and performance. Therefore, we assume that the knowl-
edge worker has achieved some sort of equilibrium prior
to the implementation of a new technology. Now we ask:
how is this equilibrium upset by a significant change in
technology? The answer to this question provides in-
sights to improve fit with respect to the job environment
dimensions measured. If improvements in fit are made,
then we would expect to see reduced strain levels and
improved career performance.
Thus, based on past research, we propose:
P1. person-job t is likely to be positively related to
knowledge workers’ career success.
3. Perceived Organizational Support and
Career Success
Past research has suggested that organizational-level fac-
tors need to be taken into account when investigating the
antecedents and correlates of career satisfaction. In this
study we propose perceived organizational support is
related to knowledge workers’ career satisfaction.
The attention on perceived organizational supports has
increased since 1980s. Perceived organizational support
(POS) refers to employees’ beliefs concerning the extent
to which the organization values their contribution and
cares about their well-being [18]. We can use social ex-
change view to explain the reciprocal effect of commit-
ment between the employee and the employer.
POS is not a unitary concept, but incorporates a hier-
archy of perspectives that, not only include work-based
factors, such as job support, but also factors that broadly
reflect life support and general feelings of wellbeing,
such as caring benefits and value fit.
This leads to the proposition that POS has three di-
P2: POS has three dimensions: job support, value fit
and caring benefit.
Riggle, R. J., Edmondson, D. R., & Hansen, J. D. [19]
provided this clarification by examining the effects of
POS on four employee outcome variables: organizational
commitment, job satisfaction, performance, and intention
to leave. They did this through a main-effect meta-
analysis of studies addressing these relationships over the
last twenty years. They found job satisfaction (r = .61, p
< .001) exhibit strong positive relationships with POS.
Given the positive effect of POS on employee com-
mitment and job satisfaction [20], it seems logical to
suggest that perceived organizational support is related to
career satisfaction as well. Rhoades and Eisenberger [20]
found POS to be positively associated with opportunities
for greater recognition and pay and promotion. Within
the work field, POS may emanate either from the super-
visor or other senior managers. Supportive supervisors
affect individuals’ willingness to engage in development
activities [21] and are critical for subordinate perform-
ance and career success. In some organizations, for ex-
ample, social support provided by supervisor may take
the form of career guidance and information, learning
opportunities and challenging work assignments that
promote career advancement [22]. For example, Dreher
and Ash [23] found mentorship to be related to both
objective and subjective measures of career success.
Kirchmeyer [24] found supervisor support significantly
predicted men’s and women’s managerial perceived ca-
reer success and Greenhaus et al. [22] found supervisor
support to be significantly related to employees’ career
satisfaction. Whitely et al. [25] examined mentoring and
socioeconomic origins as antecedents of early career
outcomes for salaried managers and professional gradu-
ates working in various organizations. Other researchers
Career Success of Knowledge Workers: The Effects of Perceived Organizational Support and Person-Job Fit
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. iB
found that mentorship and supportive work relationships
were related to career advancement as well as perceived
career success [26]. Wallace [27] found that mentoring
for female lawyers increased their career satisfaction.
Nabi [28] suggested social support to fall into three
categories: personal, peer, and network. He found peer
support to be strongly related to men’s subjective career
success, whereas personal support to be strongly related
to women’s subjective career success.
Barnett et al. [29] examined the relationship between
organizational support for career development and em-
ployees’ career satisfaction. Based on an extended model
of social cognitive career theory and an integrative
model of proactive behaviors, their study proposed that
career management behaviors would mediate the rela-
tionship between organizational supports career devel-
opment and career satisfaction, and between proactive
personality and career satisfaction.
It is reasonable that perceived social support at work
in the form of mentorship, training, caring benefit and
supportive work relationships would lead to greater ca-
reer opportunities and enhanced career satisfaction.
Hence, we propose that perceived organizational support
at work would lead to greater career opportunities and
enhanced career satisfaction.
We propose that the level of perceived organizational
support will impact career satisfaction.
P3: There will be a positive relationship between per-
ceived organizational support and career satisfaction.
Knowledge workers who perceive high levels of organ-
izational support will report greater career satisfaction
than those who perceive low levels of support.
4. Discussion
Organizations are facing incredible pressures in multiple
areas (economy, technology, structure, society in general)
to adjust to the new, evolving demands of their constitu-
encies and to become more efcient and competitive
within their environments. These new demands will
likely necessitate changes in planning and managing the
careers of their employees [30]. The t of person and job
is a dominant force in employee selection and in ex-
plaining individuals’ career satisfaction. PJ t and career
success should be related since both interact to affect
employees’ career decisions. This article has discussed
promoting career success through a PJ t and organiza-
tional support framework.
It is widely acknowledged that individuals and or-
ganizations are nowadays experiencing different models
of careers as compared to previous decades, and both
have to share responsibility in managing and controlling
the process and the challenging nature of career success.
Because careers are changing, and there is widespread
agreement among researchers and practitioners that ca-
reer success is no longer solely determined by a set of
well-defined variables.
The responsibility for career management lies both
with individuals and with the organization which em-
ploys them. According to this notion of “joint responsi-
bility”, both parties are supposed to share various obliga-
tions in managing employee careers, rather than them
being the sole responsibility of one or the other. Em-
ployee career effectiveness will be greater when the in-
dividual and organization carry out their respective ca-
reer management roles. The effects of PJ t may provide
insight into how employees and employers can achieve a
substantial t in managing the process of career ad-
However, in today’s contemporary work environment,
most employees are not only likely to need career guid-
ance and support from their organizations but also likely
to need career self-management. Even, central to the
career management process is self-management, such as
improving himself to fit the job. For example, John’s job
or career goals, described at the goal to achieve the posi-
tion of general manager–John may decide to take MBA
courses, he may attempt to learn more about the knowl-
edge of the organization as a whole, and/or he may try to
improve his communication and leadership skills. There-
fore, knowledge workers (person)-job fit is equal to ca-
reer self-management.
In today’s contemporary work environment, most
knowledge workers are also likely to need organizational
support in managing their careers. Information and ca-
reer guidance and support from others are needed not just
on particular jobs, which may well disappear, but on the
direction of the economy, labor market, profession or
sector, and therefore the kinds of skills and key compe-
tencies which will be relevant in the future. As argued by
Peiperl and Baruch [31], careers in the 21st century re-
quire a new set of support structures and global links.
Support structures incorporate different supporting ele-
ments such as social identities and social networks that
enable individuals to engage in different career paths
with different organizations including employment agen-
cies, professional bodies, and communities-based or-
ganizations. Consequently, employees who receive more
social support are likely to experience higher levels of
perceived organizational support, which, in turn, enhance
their opportunities for career advancement.
The study shows that organizational support and per-
son-job fit predict subjective career success, in the form
of career satisfaction.
In a word, organizational support and person-job fit
could have a determinate effect on career success of
knowledge worker. Contingent upon this finding, it is
Career Success of Knowledge Workers: The Effects of Perceived Organizational Support and Person-Job Fit
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. iB
crystal clear that knowledge workers’ career success
could be improved upon if the two investigated predic-
tors are high level in their career experience.
Implications of the results
Knowledge of the antecedents to career success should
provide certain advantages to organizations attempting to
motivate knowledge worker. The study of PJ t is par-
ticularly useful since some [32] have observed that indi-
viduals’ commitment to organizations has diminished
over recent years. The t between knowledge workers
and specific jobs could play a particularly important role
under these circumstances.
Another implication of the current research pertains to
knowledge workers. The importance of this is supported
by the coming of knowledge economy.
Organizations that seek to attract and retain the best
possible knowledge employees should benet from an
understanding of what leads to their career satisfaction.
An understanding of the process by which career suc-
cess is created could therefore allow organizations to
attract applicants who are likely to perceive higher levels
of JP t and, in turn, to be satised and committed to
their job and career.
Those who argue that individuals not only should take
responsibility for their own careers, but that they stand to
benefit from so doing, even if their plans sometimes fail
to be realized and their tactics do not always work.
The results suggest that career management on the part
of organizations is not the waste of time, but that it can
lead to more successful careers for employers, from
which the organization itself can benefit, in the form of
harder working and higher job performance.
5. Limitations and Future Research
As with any study, the propositions should have cer-
tain limitations. This study was limited by the set of fac-
tors that were proposed to be linked to career success.
Although there are many predictors that have been ex-
amined in previous models of career success, the study
was just a literature review and proposed the impact of
person-job fit and perceived organizational support on
career success.
Theory and research on person–job fit tend to focus on
the outcomes of fit, while antecedents have received less
attention. This study did not pay attention to the antece-
dents of person-job fit.
Another major limitation of the study is it focused on
just one occupational group, knowledge staff. The repli-
caility of the current findings with other populations in
other occupations remains an open question.
Recent models of career success have included a
number of personality variables. While this study did not
utilize the types of personality to influence career satis-
faction. Seibert et al. [33] suggest that “career success is
a cumulative outcome, the product of behaviors aggre-
gated over a relatively long period of time.” They argue
that proactive individuals receive greater career succeed
and are more effective in shaping their own work envi-
ronments than less proactive individuals.
Person-job fit can be evaluated subjectively or objec-
tively [8]. Subjective P-J t refers to individuals’ percep-
tions regarding how well they t with a particular job.
Objective P-J t pertains to how well individuals’ re-
ported preferences or characteristics correspond to a
job’s characteristics. Finally, the study did not identify
what are the different types of PJ fit what are the most
related to components of career success and whether the
effect is direct or indirect.
Future research
One area of future research concerns the inuence of
various levels of PE t on career success. Kristof-Brown
et al. [7] found that employees’ work attitudes were di-
fferentially predicted by different forms of PE t. While
this study utilized one type of PE t porposed to inu-
ence career satisfaction, these need to be empirically
tested along and/or with other forms. Future research is
needed to expand the various levels of PE t (self-con-
cept-job fit, person-group, person-department, person-
supervisor, person-team, person-organizational culture)
for a more complete understanding of the proposed rela-
tionships between levels of PE t and components of
career success.
Future research can provide additional information and
extensions to these propositions. For example, more in-
formation is needed on the mechanisms through which
organizational and JP fit translates into career satisfaction.
We focused mainly on the organizational support and
person-job fit as the main predictor of career satisfaction.
However, as indicated in other studies [30,34], career
satisfaction are sometimes influenced by environment
factors ,personality, and human capital, so, future studies
should capture their influence.
6. Conclusions
This study proposed that organizations may potentially
enhance knowledge workers’ career satisfaction by sup-
porting their career development. There was a positive
relationship between person-job fit and perceived organ-
izational support and career success. The results indi-
cated that knowledge workers who fulfill high levels of
career self management will report greater career success
than employee who do not. These results suggest that
organizational support initiatives promoting the benefits
associated with career management behaviors and sup-
Career Success of Knowledge Workers: The Effects of Perceived Organizational Support and Person-Job Fit
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. iB
porting employees to participate in these behaviors may
experience the most success in facilitating knowledge
employee career satisfaction.
[1] F. Blackler, “Knowledge, Knowledge Work and Organi-
zations: An Overview and Interpretation,” Organization
Studies, Vol. 16, No. 6, 1995, pp. 1021-1046.
[2] P. Drucker, “Knowledge-Worker Productivity: The Big-
gest Challenge,” California Management Review, Vol. 41,
No. 2, 1999, pp. 79-94.
[3] G. Tovstiga, “Proling the Knowledge Worker in the
Knowledge Intensive Organization: Emerging Roles,”
International Journal of Technology Management, Vol.
18, No. 9-10, 1999, pp. 14-28.
[4] D. T. Hall and L. W. Foster, “A Psychological Success
Cycle and Goal Setting: Goals, Performance and Atti-
tudes,” Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 20, No. 2,
1977, pp. 282-290.
[5] J. E. Rosenbaum, “Organizational Career Systems and
Employee Misperceptions,” In: M. B. Arthur, D. T. Hall
and B. S. Lawrence, Eds., Handbook of Career Theory,
Cambridge University Press, New York, 1989, pp. 329-
[6] Y. W. C. Aryee and J. Chew, “An Investigation of the
Predictors and Outcomes of Career Commitment in Three
Career Stages,” Journal of Vocational Behaviour, Vol. 44
No. 1, 1994, pp. 1-16.
[7] A. L. Kristof-Brown, R. D. Zimmerman and E. C. John-
son, “Consequences of Individuals’ t at Work: A Meta-
Analysis of Person-Job, Person-Organization, Person-
Group, and Person-Supervisor Fit,” Personnel Psychol-
ogy, Vol. 58, No. 2, 2005, pp. 281-342.
[8] A. L. Kristof, ‘‘Person-Organization Fit: An Integrative
Review of Its Conceptualizations, Measurement, and Im-
plications,” Personnel Psychology, Vol. 49, No. 3, 1996,
pp. 1-49.
[9] J. D. Werbel and S. W. Gilliland, “Person-Environment
t in the Selection Process,” In: G. E. Ferris, Ed., Re-
search in Personnel and Human Resource Management,
Elsevier Science, Oxford, Vol. 17, 1999, pp. 209-243.
[10] L. Parkes, S. Bochner and S. Schneider, “Person-Organi-
zation Fit across Cultures: An Empirical Investigation of
Individualism and Collectivism,” Applied Psychology: An
International Review, Vol. 50, No. 1, 2001, pp. 81-108.
[11] S. Carless, “Person-Job Fit versus Person-Organization
Fit as Predictors of Organizational Attraction and Job
Acceptance Intentions: A Longitudinal Study,” Journal of
Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Vol. 78,
No. 3, 2005, pp. 411-429.
[12] C. Ostroff, Y. Shin and A. J. Kinicki, “Multiple Perspec-
tives of Congruence: Relationships between Value Con-
gruence and Employee Attidudes,” Journal of Organiza-
tional Behavior, Vol. 26, No. 6, 2005, pp. 591-623.
[13] D. M. Cable and D. S. DeRue, “The Convergent and
Discriminate Validity of Subjective Fit Perceptions,”
Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 87, No. 5, 2002, pp.
[14] R. D. Bretz and T. A. Judge, “Person-Organization Fit
and the Theory of Work Adjustment: Implications for
Satisfaction, Tenure, and Career Success,” Journal of
Vocational Behavior, Vol. 44, 1994, pp. 32-54.
[15] L. Cennamo and D. Gardner, “Generational Differences
in Work Values, Outcomes and Person-Organization
Values Fit,” Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 23,
No. 8, 2008, pp. 891-906.
[16] J. R. Edwards, ‘‘Person-Job Fit: A Conceptual Integration,
Literature Review, and Methodological Critique,” In: C.
L. Cooper and I. T. Robertson, Eds., International Review
of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Wiley,
New York, Vol. 6, 1991, pp. 283-357.
[17] A. R. Wheeler, V. C. Gallagher, R. L. Brouer and C. J.
Sablynski, “When Person-Organization (Mis)fit and Job
(Dis)satisfaction Predict Intent to Turnover: The Moder-
ating Influence of Perceived Job Mobility,” Journal of
Managerial Psychology, Vol. 22, No. 2, 2006, pp. 203-
[18] R. Eisenberger, P. Fasolo and V. Davis LaMastro, “Per-
ceived Organizational Support and Employee diligence,
Commitment, and Innovation,” Journal of Applied Psy-
chology, Vol. 75, No. 1, 1990, pp. 51-59.
[19] R. J. Riggle, D. R. Edmondson and J. D. Hansen, “A
Meta-Analysis of the Relationship between Perceived
Organizational Support and Job Outcomes: 20 Years of
Research,” Journal of Business Research, Vol. 62, No. 12,
2009, pp. 1027-1030.
[20] L. Rhoades and R. Eisenberger, “Perceived Organiza-
tional Support: A Review of the Literature,” Journal of
Applied Psychology, Vol. 87, No. 4, 2002, pp. 698-714.
[21] R. A. Noe, “Is Career Management Related to Employee
Development and Performance?” Journal of Organiza-
tional Behavior, Vol. 17, No. 3, 1996, pp. 119-133.
[22] J. Greenhaus, S. Parasuraman and W. Wormley, “Effects
of Race on Organizational Experiences, Job Performance
Evaluations, and Career Outcomes,” Academy of Man-
agement Journal, Vol. 33, No. 1, 1990, pp. 64-86.
[23] G. F. Dreher and R. A. Ash, “A Comparative Study of
Mentoring among Men and Women in Managerial, Pro-
fessional, and Technical Positions,” Journal of Applied
Psychology, Vol. 75, No. 5, 1990, pp. 539-546.
[24] C. Kirchmeyer, “Determinants of Managerial Career
Success: Evidence and Explanation of Male/Female Dif-
ferences,” Journal of Management, Vol. 24, No. 6, 1998,
pp. 673-692.
[25] W. Whitely, T. Dougherty and G. Dreher, “Relationship
of Career Mentoring and Socioeconomic Origin to Man-
agers’ and Professionals’ Early Career Progress,” Acad-
emy of Management Journal, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 331-
[26] D. Turban and T. Dougherty, “Role of Protégé’s Person-
ality in Receipt of Mentoring and Career Success,”
Academy of Management Journal, Vol. 37, No. 4, 1994,
pp. 688-702.
Career Success of Knowledge Workers: The Effects of Perceived Organizational Support and Person-Job Fit
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. iB
[27] J. E. Wallace, “The Benefits of Mentoring for Female
Lawyers,” Journal of Vocational Behavior, Vol. 58, No.
3, 2001, pp. 366-391.
[28] G. Nabi, “The Relationship between HRM, Social Sup-
port and Subjective Career Success among Men and
Women,” International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 22
No. 5, 2001, pp. 457-474.
[29] B. R. Barnett and L. M. Bradley, “The Impact of Organ-
izational Support for Career Development on Career Sat-
isfaction,” Career Development International, Vol. 12,
No. 7, 2007, pp. 617-636.
[30] H. I. Ballout, “Career Success: The Effects of Human
Capital, Person-Environment Fit and Organizational Su-
pport,” Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 22, No. 8,
2007, pp. 741-765.
[31] M. Peiperl and Y. Baruch, “Back to Square Zero: The
Post-Corporate Career,” Organizational Dynamics, Vol.
25, No. 4, 1997, pp. 7-22.
[32] C. R. Leana, “The Changing Organizational Context of
Careers,” In: D. C. Feldman, Eds., Work Careers: A De-
velopmental Perspective, Jossey Bass, San Francisco,
[33] G. Nabi, (2003), “Situational Characteristics and Subjec-
tive Career Success: The Mediating Role of Career-En-
hancing Strategies,” International Journal of Manpower,
Vol. 24, No. 6, pp. 653-672.
[34] S. E. Seibert, J. M. Crant and M. L. Kraimer, “Proactive
Personality and Career Success,” Journal of Applied Psy-
chology, Vol. 84, No. 3, 1999, pp. 416-427.