ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2015, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (11): 1379-1394.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2015.01379

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The Career Plateau of Chinese Public Servants: Construct, #br# Measurement and Its Psychological and Behavioral Influence

WANG Zhongjun1; LONG Lirong2; LIU Lidan3; HUANG Xiaohua4; JIA Wenwen1; LI Lu1; MA Hongyu1   

  1. (1 Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behavior, Ministry of Education; School of Psychology, Central China Normal University; Key Laboratory of Human Development and Mental Health of Hubei Province, Wuhan 430079, China)
    (2 School of Management, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430074, China)
    (3 School of Humanities, Hubei University of Chinese Medicine, Wuhan 430065, China)
    (4 United Front Work Department, CPC Jiangxi Provincial Committee, Nanchang 330006, China)
  • Received:2014-10-22 Published:2015-11-25 Online:2015-11-25
  • Contact: LIU Lidan, E-mail:



The career plateau is a serious problem for Chinese public servants, especially for those who at the lower level of public organizations, which occurs when an individual has limited vertical and horizontal career mobility. Since career plateau is of great influence on individual career development as well as organizational efficiency, this study investigated the career plateau phenomenon of Chinese public servants. Firstly, the typical features of Chinese public servants’ career plateau were found with the content analysis of data collected from 16 public servants, using structured interviews and open-ended questionnaires for other 43 public servants from various public organizations. Meanwhile, the initial items for Public Servants Career Plateau Questionnaire (PSCPQ) were also established.
Secondly, data collected from a sample of 279 public servants of diverse organizations was used to explore the CSCPQ’s conceptual construct, reliability and validity by exploratory factor analysis (EFA). Thirdly, conducting Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) for data from another larger sample of 517 public servants, the validity and reliability of the PSCPQ was confirmed. Eventually, this study investigated the relationship between career plateau and civil servants’ occupational psychological and behavioral outcomes, such as organizational commitment, occupational burnout and withdrawal behavior in workplace by hierarchical multiple regression analysis for data of 520 public servants and another sample (n = 230) from three public organizations.
The research results indicated the career plateau of public servants was a two-dimension structure in Chinese public organizations context. The dimensions include the stagnation of promotionthe marginalization of position, which are completely different from the constructs of employees’ career plateau of enterprises found in previous studies. The Cronbach α coefficients of the two dimensions are all above 0.80 and show a steady and acceptable status in different samples. The Cronbach α coefficients of the entire PSCPQ is also above 0.87 in different sample. and These results showed that PSCPQ developed in this study had good psychometric reliability and high validity.
Furthermore, the results showed that after controlling demographic variables,the stagnation of promotion of public servants was significantly positive related to emotional burnout and cynicism, and was not related to organizational commitment, professional efficiency as well as withdrawal behavior at work. After controlling demographic variables, the positional marginalization of public servants was significantly negative related to organizational affective commitment, normative commitment and professional efficiency, and was positive related to organizational continuance commitment, emotional burnout, cynicism as well as withdrawal behavior. These results would be of enlightenment to the management practices and career development for public servants in Chinese public organizations. Finally, implications and directions for future research are discussed.

Key words:  public servants, career plateau, stagnation of promotion, marginalization of position