Human Capital Development Practices and Career Success: The Moderating Role of Country Development and Income Inequality

Silvia Bagdadli, Martina Gianecchini, Maike Andresen, Rick Cotton, Robert Kaše , Mila Lazarova, Adam Smale, Janine Bosak, Jon Briscoe, Katharina Chudzikowski, Silvia Dello Russo, Astrid Reichel

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Employees can enhance their human capital through participation in organizationally-sponsored development activities. However, there is little research on the extent to which the effects of such practices vary depending on national context. Adopting a human capital theory perspective, we hypothesized a positive relationship between human capital development practices experienced in one’s career and objective and subjective career success (salary level and perceived financial success respectively), and tested two country-level institutional factors (country development and income inequality) as moderators.
Results from our multilevel analyses of a large-scale sample of over 8,800 managers and professionals from 28 countries showed that, as expected, experiencing a larger number of different human capital development practices was associated with higher salary level and greater perceived financial success. The relationship between development practices and salary level was stronger in the case of developed countries and weakly negatively affected for countries with higher income inequality. The relationship between development practices
and perceived financial success was weaker for developed countries and unaffected by income inequality. Our research thus identifies boundary conditions to the application of human capital theory in different contexts and contributes to the comparative careers literature by showing that institutional factors affect the outcome of organizationally-sponsored development activities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429–447
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue number4
Early online date19 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2021


  • career success
  • country development
  • development practices
  • human capital
  • income inequality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology(all)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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