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Career benefits of an MBA for British and Taiwanese woman managers : adopting a career-capital perspective

By Aurora S. Chen


This research aims to identify the career benefits which female graduates have acquired from taking an MBA programme in the UK and Taiwan. It builds on a stream of knowledge about male and female MBA graduates’ career competencies as a result of completing the MBA and adopts a career-capital perspective. The qualitative data emerging from the 36 interviews and the stratified sample of six business schools in the UK and Taiwan which make up the study offer a rich understanding of how women perceive their career benefits. It redresses the previous focus on quantitative data from a single sample and a concentration on objective career outcomes such as salary and promotions. The findings show that all female participants acquired career capital. Junior and middle managers (British women, aged between 30 and 34) focused on the acquisition of human and cultural capital and, in particular, on growth in confidence and salary as well as career advancement. Middle and senior managers (British and Taiwan women, aged between 35 and 40) concentrated more on the acquisition of social capital, in terms of networks, than the attainment of human and cultural capital. Senior managers (Taiwanese women, aged between 41 and 45) benefited from the acquisition of social capital in terms of networks with alumni, faculty, peers and friends. The differences in career benefits between the British and Taiwanese women are explained in terms of cultural backgrounds (British and Taiwanese) and the characteristics of each individual in terms of age and managerial experience. Gaining confidence and improved career status leading to salary increases, management promotions, career opportunities and personal reputation was seen as the most important to the British women. Networking with talented people (alumni, faculty, peers and friends) leading to gaining visibility in senior management, seeking career advice, career planning and career advancement, acquiring sponsors, sharing knowledge, exchanging information, extending contacts, acquiring professional support, a source of learning and other commercial benefits (for example, gaining a deeper understanding of customers) were critical to the Taiwanese women. The research has attempted to add to the knowledge about career capital by redefining the concepts of human, social and cultural capital and reorganizing the dimensions within each concept. Human capital is defined as educational attainment, consisting of knowledge, skills and confidence. Social capital is captured by networks with alumni, faculty, peers and friends. Cultural capital is developed through the valuewhich society places on symbols of prestige and is defined as improved career status. It has also attempted to offer empirical evidence to add to the existing literature on women’s career benefits from taking an MBA and how they relate to career stage (early and mid-career) and cultural background (British and Taiwanese). It has helped in shaping an understanding of how women leverage the MBA to develop managerial careers in their thirties and forties. It has also filled a gap in the research on female MBA graduates in Taiwan. Previous work does not devote much attention to the cultural factors in cross-cultural studies while this research has shown how collectivism in Taiwan and individualism in the UK have an impact on the career outcomes of female graduates. Future research is needed to extend the study of what career benefits graduates from different countries gain from MBA studies in order that global programmes run in the UK cater to the needs of all students

Publisher: Cranfield University
Year: 2009
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Cranfield CERES

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