Relationship between resilience and career success: Empirical study in Southern Vietnam

VY VU HONG THAO, MBA (Department of Internal Affairs, Dong Nai Province)


In the current context of fierce competition, achieving success is becoming a more difficult task. People should have high degrees of resilience in order to adjust to new conditions while also maintaining the perseverance and enthusiasm required to persevere in the face of defeat. This study aims at identifying and examining the distinct qualities of persons who have achieved high levels of career success and resilience, as well as the relationships between these two factors. A questionnaire was devised to collect data from 5,836 participants from six professional groups (unemployed, managers, influencers, entrepreneurs, workers, and academics) in Southern Vietnam. From both objective and subjective standpoints, the findings show that a person with high levels of resilience is better suited to attain professional career success. The findings of the study further validate the relationships between the career success and resilience of an individual.

Keywords: career success, resilience, relationship, Southern Vietnam.

1. Introduction

As shown in the Humanistic Psychology by Maslow (1984), everyone has the same basic requirements. Following the satisfaction of our physiological demands, we are concerned with safety, next connection, and last the urge for recognition. Human beings want social prestige, self-fulfillment, and achievement when these basic requirements are addressed. Many publications and studies make it evident that the future society will be defined by a constantly changing, technological, and globalized world, starting with this drive for success and focused on the professional field. In this new context, and with the goal of success in mind, tomorrow's professionals will have to deal with nearly anybody and in any place; they will be forced to employ technology on a daily basis, thus creativity and change adaption will be their watchwords (Amabile, 1983). The purpose of this research is to better understand and recognize professional success as people's capacity to stand out in a crowd and overcome adversity, emerging triumphant and stronger to face change and crises with a resilient spirit (UNESCO, 2002). The research was conducted in Southern Vietnam with a nationally representative sample. It builds a triangle between the three concepts, meaning that in order to be professionally successful, great aspects of resistance to obstacles are also required (resilience). Resilience leads to objectives and accomplishments, and it can give the required mechanisms for persevering in the face of change and the need for imaginative and creative problem resolution (Luthans et al., 2007). As a result, the goal of this study is to see how much a person's resilience ability affects their job performance.

2. Literature reviews

2.1. Career Success

The scientific community appears to unambiguously describe a facet of success related with effort or outcomes in disciplines such as academics or sports (Sandin & Sanchez, 2015). However, this strategy is becoming less popular (Ng & Feldman, 2014; Shockley et al., 2015). Spurk et al. (2019) focused more on the professional realm and are contextualized in the analyses' goal. They have a broader perspective than the others, considering both an objective vision of success and a more subjective view of success based on values such as authenticity, growth or development, influence, quality, or satisfaction (Spurk et al., 2019), the occurrence of obstacles throughout life (Ng & Feldman, 2014), or the person's life project, aspirations, and goals. The latter, subjective success, is seen as the achievement of a goal that fits one’s desires and interests, whereas objective success focuses more on the successful achievement of something that many others (society) desire or have previously attempted (Heslin, 2005).  Based on the studies by several authors in the reviewed bibliography, there are indicators of each of the two aspects of career success. For objective career success, some prominent indicators include rank, medals, qualifications, awards, and promotions (Van Scotter, 2000; Wallace, 2001; Judge et al., 2001); or salary level, position, and prestige (Arthur et al., 2005). And for subjective career success, some other indicators widely used and defended by the scientific community consist of work stress, work-family conflict, work-time conflict, job satisfaction, and life satisfaction (Judge et al., 1995; Oberfield, 1993; Greenhaus et al., 1990).

2.2. Resilience

We examine a notion that is commonly debated in the scientific community from both a theoretical and methodological standpoint after thorough analysis of the pillars under research and using positive psychology as a starting point. Individuals, communities, and organizations typically use the term resilience to describe their ability to overcome crises and adversity in the social sciences, but each of the research examined gives subtleties that assist to appreciate the term's global character and complexity. According to one of the most widely repeated theories (Masten, 1999; Masten, 2001; Masten & Reed, 2002), resilience is a psychological capacity to recover from conflicts, adversity, uncertainty, and failure, which is a positive adaptation to conditions including major adversity, such as disasters and terrible occurrences in life.

Numerous studies illustrate the fluidity and adaptability of the concept of resilience (Reivich & Shatte, 2002; Connor & Davidson, 2003; Luthans, 2002; Windle et al., 2011), underlining the relevance of the resources and techniques humans employ to overcome bad and stressful conditions.

Resilience is defined as the ability to recover from adversity, uncertainty, conflict, failure, or even positive change, advancement, and more responsibility. Being resilient, on the other hand, does not imply that a one is immune to sorrow or adversity; rather, it suggests that an individual can put his or her life back together, get up, and walk despite melancholy, misery, or pain. Resilience helps a person to not only survive, but also to gain from a positive adjustment to change, which allows them to go beyond what is normal and move to a positive deviation (Cameron, 2008). Based on these findings, it's clear that the resilient person is better equipped to adjust favorably to change and hardship and, as a result, is more talented than their competition.

Resilience may be broken into smaller and more tangible characteristics in order to make it measurable or quantifiable. This allows for a unified assessment of the construct. This shift from the previous generations' autonomous and immovable idea of resilience to a new understanding of the relationship between resilience variables and non-resilience factors. Based on this finding and the research cited (Grotberg, 2000; Werner, 2000), a person's resilience spectrum consists of six areas or dimensions: self-esteem and confidence, satisfaction, learning, pragmatism, clear objectives and determination to attain, and finally, social relationships.

2.3. Relationship between Career success and Resilience

Succeeding, being successful, or reaching the top of a career is getting increasingly difficult in today's continuously changing environment. As a result, obtaining success is heavily reliant on the talents or skills that we can assemble as a community or as individuals (Amabile (1983). In this setting, it is obvious that someone with high levels of resilience will be better able to adjust to continual changes while also maintaining the tenacity and excitement to keep going despite losses or failures. Several studies (Sadin & Sanchez, 2015; Masten & Reed, 2002) have attempted to identify the links between success and resilience. A person with strong levels of resilience will be better equipped to deal with each aspect of professional achievement. As a result, the research's key goals are to develop a theoretical model with a specific design that includes objectives, methodologies, and strategies for determining the degree of professional success of persons with a high resilience index.

3. Research methods

This study deployed a self-completed questionnaire to determine the degree of success and resilience since it is one of the easiest and most trustworthy methods for data collecting in scientific research, as it is in this instance (Nayak & Signh, 2021). As a result, a questionnaire was created, verified, and standardized to bring the three components together. Ten persons scored the items on a scale of one to three for relevance, pertinence, and univocity, setting the requirement that two or more evaluators would suggest one of the criteria for reformulation or removal of those things that did not match the stated criteria. Internal consistency was tested using Cronbach's Alpha coefficient after the final version of the test was ready. The resultant values, 0.76 for success and 0.79 for resilience, are both near to 1, indicating high inner consistency for professional success and resilience.

As a result, the final version of the questionnaire has two categories and a section on socio-demographic data (age and gender). (1) Objective career success was assessed using three indicators: pay, job title or working position (e.g., executive, intermediate, entrepreneur, and jobless), and social status, whereas subjective career success was assessed using five sub-categories (job stress, work-family conflict, work-time conflict, job satisfaction, and life satisfaction). (2) Seven sub-categories (self-esteem and confidence, satisfaction, learning, pragmatism, clear objectives and achieving motivation, and social relationships) with three questions each were used to assess resilience.  

A methodology was followed to guarantee structured, methodical, rigorous, and innovative coding, emptying, and processing of the data from the questionnaires. After obtaining all of the questionnaires (both online and paper), they were categorized by numbering them and rejecting those that were incorrect or incomplete, according to the sample sub-strata, and six data matrices were created. The responses are scored and quantified when the first six matrices are completed. Each component is evaluated with values ranging from 1 to 3 for money, 1 to 5 for position, and 1 to 5 for social prestige in the section of the questionnaire devoted to “objective professional achievement”. Each item is given a value from 1 to 4, with 1 being the lowest and 4 being the greatest, in the section of the questionnaire devoted to “subjective professional success and resilience”. Ten thousand hard copies and emails attached with online link of the final questionnaire were delivered and 7,103 pieces collected. Among them, there are only 5,836 valid observations. The data was entered into the IBM SPSS 22 once the first step was done and all of the data had been sorted and cleansed. From June 2020 until March 2021, this procedure was followed.

4. Empirical results and discussions

The data was analyzed using correlation analysis, and it was shown that there is a positive connection of 0.28 between objective and subjective professional success. Objective professional performance and resilience were found to have a statistically significant and directly proportionate linear connection (0.26). A statistically significant (0.23 and 0.29) and directly proportionate linear association was discovered for subjective professional success and resilience (0.37). When we look at the data by strata, we can observe that the Unemployed, Managers, Influencers, Entrepreneurs, Employees, and Professors all have considerable disparities. When examining age, the test revealed that work stress, self-esteem and confidence, pragmatism, and social relationships do not provide significant information.

Hundreds of studies have been published that link and define success as a positive match between aspirations, competencies, and skills, or a string of successes and victories, academic performance, fame, perseverance, commitment, and leadership, or simply the perceived salary (Wallace, 2001). These definitions of success, while may be useful in athletics or academic study, were too narrow for our purposes. As a result, we chose a more comprehensive approach of success (Arthur, 2005), which has also been frequently utilized and justified in recent studies (Ng & Feldman, 2014; Shockley et al., 2015). The concept has been determined to have some consensus in its theoretical evaluation of the term resilience. Although some research conflates resilience with hard-won success or the ability to withstand stressful events, personal misfortunes, and calamities, the majority of the theoretical review points to human beings' ability to face adversity, accept its consequences, and try to internalize them in order to emerge strengthened and with new vital goals. The concept "resilience" is already positioned as a crucial capacity for all individuals who confront the difficult road to success (objective and/or subjective) in much of the aforementioned theoretical review (Saldin & Sanchez, 2015; Masten & Reed, 2002). As a result, this capability was seen as a crucial trait in our research when confronted with the obstacles and dynamics of a professional career aiming for personal and/or societal victory.

The examination of correlations between career success and resilience based on the collected data allows us to emphasize the importance of this skill in the pursuit of professional success, whether objective or subjective. The unmistakable resemblance between resilient people and those who have achieved professional success in their jobs is demonstrated by a positive association. The positive connection in this study corresponds to some sample strata dominating others. First, the group of managers proved to be the most resilient, which is understandable given that this group must deal with an inexhaustible amount of stressful and various events in order to preserve their company's successful management in a worldwide, fluctuating, and hazardous market.

Second, we have academics, a professional category that necessitates ongoing training, inventiveness, and problem-solving skills, all of which are connected with a good reputation and standing in the scientific community. There is fierce rivalry, high quality requirements, and a "name" on the line in each of the articles or papers presented in this sector. Entrepreneurs, who tend to be the category most impacted by stress, come in third position. Men appear to be more resilient than women, but the difference is so minor that it is not significant (Çetinkaya & Sarıcı, 2019). As a result, the resilient person profile is a man (or a woman, depending on the gender difference) who is a manager between the ages of 46 and 60, i.e., with a lot of life, social, and job experience. He has also, of course, accomplished everything that was required of him in life.

When connecting resilience to gender and age, previous research found comparable findings to those found in this study. More particular research that are relevant to our subject of study show a link between success and resilience (Saldin & Sanchez, 2015; Masten & Reed, 2002). Despite the fact that few research have been conducted on this topic, the majority of reviews identify variables related to job success when discussing resilience: coping, positive attitude, perseverance, self-efficacy, and optimism.

5. Conclusions

In order to reply to the research objectives, we give a synthesis of the most relevant facts we discovered while doing our research. These findings are based on the research sample, which consists of two hundred persons who are typical of the socio-demographic universe under investigation. In terms of objective professional success, the findings of this study show that, on one hand, money takes precedence over status, renown, or position. This is supported by the fact that executives with greater salaries are the ones who stand out the most when objective professional achievement is measured. Professors are then linked to achievement, whilst Influencers are linked to fame and recognition. Resilience is seen to increase with age as a result of the accumulation of experiences and lifetime learning. Greater physical strength does not imply a more positive attitude about life's challenges. Job stress may be a valuable learning experience for those who know how to manage it, recognize opportunities where there have been setbacks, and persevere despite the bumps on the path. Resilience is forged more on a personal level and via various life events than in the workplace. We can put what we've learned to use and enhance it, but it's evident that we'll need to build a foundation before we can tackle a competitive, stressful, or too demanding work environment. The study's findings assist us to create a creative and resilient profile of a successful individual in their field. Despite the presence of several external elements (for example, chance, recommendations, social, economic, or personal situations), it is apparent that resilience and perseverance are also important internal advantages for attaining career success.


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[Tạp chí Công Thương - Các kết quả nghiên cứu khoa học và ứng dụng công nghệ, 

Số 27, tháng 12 năm 2021]