Publication Date



The present study extended prior career success models by incorporating traits from the five-factor model of personality (often termed the "Big Five") and several dimensions of extrinsic (remuneration, ascendancy, job level, employability) and intrinsic (job, life, and career satisfaction) career success. The model examined both direct effects, and the mediating effects of an array of human capital and motivation variables derived from prior research. Data were collected from two large samples of American and European executives. Some results supported prior research: Extroversion related positively, and neuroticism negatively, to intrinsic career success across both the U.S. and European samples. Some results differed from expectations: (1) Conscientiousness was mostly unrelated to extrinsic success and negatively related to intrinsic success in both samples; (2) Agreeableness was negatively related to extrinsic success in both samples. Differences emerged between the European and American samples, in that: (1) Neuroticism associated with lower levels of extrinsic success for the American executives but not the Europeans; (2) Extroversion associated with higher levels of extrinsic success for the European executives, but not the Americans. For both samples, human capital and motivational variables associated predictably with career success, but seldom mediated the relationship between personality and career success.


Suggested Citation
Boudreau, J. W., Boswell, W. R. & Judge, T. A. (1999). Effects of personality on executive career success in the U.S. and Europe (CAHRS Working Paper #99-12). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.
Replaces Working Paper 97-30
Published in Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 58, 53-81