In the last chapter, and through the literature review the work design is positioned as a key determinant of most of the major dependent variables on in the field of psychology and management including productivity, well-being/ strain, absenteeism, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, job performance, creativity, innovation and more (Parker, Morgeson & Johns, 2017),
Due to the significant and important consequence of different work outcomes, it’s not surprising to be one of the most researched topics in the field of organizational psychology and behavior.
The view on how to design a work has changed considerably over the years, several authors developed different job-design models, which have been expanded into various contemporary perspectives (Parker and Ohly, 2014). The net effect is that the literature on work design is somewhat fragmented. Rather than providing one overall framework to study the design of jobs—similar to the Big 5 framework in personality, for example—job-design models consider the topic from different angles (Parker and Ohly, 2014).
From the positive side these theories provided the researchers with an in-depth inside to explain how designing the work can impact the psychological, attitudinal, behavioral, and physical outputs (Grant ; Parker, 2009), moreover the diversification appears in reviewed literature result in understanding the work design complexity, But a bird’s eye view – not to mention a comprehensive model – is nonexistent, hindering the sharing of the reached knowledge and understanding of work design. (Van den Broeck and Parker, 2017).
Against for mentioned background, it is highly important to review the various work design approaches and theories that have been dominated the literature around the world and the contemporaneous models that have arisen from them. The next section describes the history and the basic principles that guide the different approaches on the work design: how the work design is conceptualized, including, the definitions, dimensions, and measure, focusing on job characteristics model as the model apply for this research.
Before pursuit in the work design historical overview section, it’s better first to define job and work design.
2.2. Definition of the job and work design
Generally accepted definition for the job through the literature as a collection of related positions that are similar in terms of the work performed or goals they serve for the organization, where a position is the “set of duties, tasks, activities, and elements able to be performed by a single worker” (Brannick, Levine, ; Morgeson, 2007, p. 7). From this perspective, work design refers to the “content and structure of jobs that employees perform” (Oldham, 1996, p. 33) cited in (Morgan, Humpherly, 2008).
As a result of defining the work design in such a way, the focus of work design researches focuses on studying the tasks and activities incumbents in the job performed on a daily basis. Inherent in this definition that, certain work characteristics are vital for successful job performance and accordingly there must be a match between these work characteristics and the work requirements. (Morgan, Humpherly, 2008).
From this perspective emerged the definition applied for this research i.e. the widely known and widespread definition of work design follow the Job Characteristics Model (JCM) of Hackman and Oldham (1980) cited in Oldham and Hackman (2010) “Is as a set of opportunities and constraints structured into assigned tasks and responsibilities that affect how an employee accomplishes and experiences the work.”
However, scholars recently realized that at work environment individuals in addition to executing their assigned static tasks, they also engage in a lot of emergents, social, and sometimes self-initiated activities; that is, an individual can practice their work roles inflexible manner. (Parker, Van den Broeck, and Holman, 2017).
Accordingly, the term job design changed to capture this broader perspective. Morgeson ; Humphrey (2006) particularly provide a broader and more dynamic definition of work design. Work design in regulates the whole work processes and outcomes of how work is organized, experienced, and practiced.
Thus the focus shift from designing a narrow, prescribed and fixed “jobs” to a more wider definition of “work” design that not only acknowledges the job content, but instead considers the link between jobs and the surrounding environment, and the role of the individuals in any raised and self-initiated activities inside a flexible organization (Morgeson ; Humphrey, 2006; p. 1322). (Grant, Fried, Parker, ; Frese, 2010) mentioned that broader perspective of the work design takes into account large changes in the work context.
Morgeson and Humphrey (2008, p. 47) defined the work design as “the study, creation, and modification of the composition, content, structure, and environment within which jobs and roles are enacted.” Parker (2014) in a broader term defined work design as “the content and organization of one’s work tasks, activities, relationships, and responsibilities.”
Armstrong ( 2003, p. 494) cited in (Belias ; Sklikas,2013) state that the work design defines more broadly as “the specification of the contents, methods, and relationships of jobs in order to satisfy technological and organizational requirements as well as the social and personal requirements of the job holder” and Grant, Fried ; Juillerat (2010, p. 418) cited in Mukherjee ; Vasconcelos (2011) defines the work design as “encapsulating the processes and outcomes of how work is structured, organized, experienced, and enacted”.
General speaking, the work design defines through the literature as the work characteristics and the workplace conditions in a broader term and in a narrow scope and as a part of this research, the work design defines as the features of the workplace, which relate to the content of the job.
2.3. History and dominant theories of the work design
Historically, the work design emerged in response to intensive application of the scienti?c management principles. The key principle of job simpli?cation that the mental jobs such as decision-making are devoted to the managers, while operators’ jobs composed of the ‘manual’ work only. Despite, the negative outcomes of job simpli?cation (e.g. increased turnover and reduced mental health), these negative impacts accelerated the interest amongst various scholarship and practitioners in redesigning the work aiming at improving and optimizing both the work experiences of the employees and the organizational productivity (Parker, 2014).
Ultimately these efforts led to the development of several less mechanistic i.e. More motivational and mental health oriented work design, next section, describe a brief overview about the dominant approaches to work design in the ?eld of industrial/organizational psychology and shifting from the scientific management approach.
2.3.1. Designing Motivating Work
Unsurprising, knowing that, work design researches arise from studies of meaningless jobs, psychological research on the subject has motivation at its core (Parker and Zhang, 2016). This part briefly re-cap classic theories of motivational work design, then identify some existing elaborations of these core theories.
Sociotechnical systems and autonomous work groups.
At group level, sociotechnical systems proposed that the term design should consider both technical and social dimension of the job rather than centering on the former, as was the focus in scientific management approach, optimizing the alignment of technical and social systems of the employees energize the idea of autonomous groups and support groups flexibly to harmonize their working processes which finally result in more effective performance.( Parker and Zhang,2017)
STS theory persuaded that teams members should be given adequate autonomy to organize themselves i.e (without extensive supervision) and allowed to manage the emerged technological problems and to propose improvements, which is contrary to the previous division between manual labor role and managerial tasks. Moreover, rather than promoting specialization, human relations specialist proposed that, in teams, employees should be provided a relatively broad set of meaningful tasks and allow team members to rotate, so that they experience some variety and gain multi-skills (den Broeck and Parker,2017).
STS theory gave rise to the use of autonomous working groups, later labeled self-managing teams, however, many pieces of research argue that autonomous work group positively impact employee’s job satisfaction and performance, another stream of researches mentioned that the positive effects were not always found and autonomous work teams required to be implemented with care and may be most effective in uncertain contexts, where individual employees can make a difference cited in (Parker and Zhang,2017).
Herzberg’s Two-Factor Theory
Frederick Herzberg’s revolutionary approach to job design emerged by the 1960s which specified that, for employees to be motivated and perform well, manager should replace simplified job with enriched job (Herzberg, 1966, 1976) cited Greg R. and Hackman,2010) job should be redesigned and managed to promote responsibility, achievement, growth in competence, recognition, and advancement.
Herzberg assumed, extrinsic factors related to the job itself, such as good working conditions and supervisory practices, called “hygiene factors” that can generate employees dissatisfaction if poorly managed but never create employees motivation to hard work and to perform well,” e.g. good relationships at work a proper salary, security, status, , giving attention to employees personal life. In contrast, satisfaction, linked to growth-oriented human needs and affected by the availability of motivators e.g. sense of achievement, responsibility, recognition, and growth. (Greg R. and Hackman, 2010).
Despite, the criticisms directed to Herzberg’s model and the lack of empirical support, the model significant impact appears in job design literature. First, it was the pioneer model consider the difference between animal basic needs and more human, higher order growth needs. Second, Herzberg was the first scientist developed a well-defined model for job-design and to support the empirical study of employees’ jobs, by this way Herzberg paving the way for a vast steams of job-design research which we read today. (Van den Broeck and Parker, 2017)
Herzberg draws attention to the importance of pleasant working conditions, decent salaries, and social relations at work, in addition to providing job content, give employees opportunities to learn and develop themselves. As such, Herzberg supposed to be the first who argue that the true motivational potential of employees to work is connected to the content of their jobs. Furthermore, he continues that, there are ways to keep jobs more motivating e.g. through job enlargement (i.e., adding additional tasks of similar difficulty) and—most importantly—job enrichment (i.e., by adding the more complex task and decision authority). (Van den Broeck and Parker, 2017; Paker, Morgan and Johns, 2017).
Herzberg provided a valuable point of departure and open the door for the research on the motivational potential of jobs that, eventually, evolved into Job Characteristics Theory.
Hackman and Oldham’s Job Characteristics Model
The JCM is the “framework which fueled three decades of research of job design and remains the dominant model till today…” (Grant et al., 2010; p. 421). The idea behind the model summarized by the authors themselves who say that “The conceptual core of our approach was the expectancy theory of motivation (…). That is, rather than being motivated by, say, the promise of rewards or the prospect of receiving (or avoiding) supervisor attention, people would try to perform well simply because it felt good when they did and it felt bad when they did not. (Oldham ; Hackman, 2010; p. 464):
The theory specifies certain task condition in which employees are proposed to flourish in their job and then draw the relationship between those job characteristic and individual responses to work. They claim five job dimension promoting three psychological states each of them supposed to lead to some beneficial personal and ‘work-related outcomes. The model also considers the individual differences parameters as a moderator in the relationship between the task characteristics and beneficial outcomes. Hackman and Oldham (1976,1980) cited (Oldham & Hackman, 2010; p. 464) define the five job characteristics as follows:
Skill variety: to which degree the job requires a variety of different activities in executing the work, including the number of different skills arid talents of the individual used in doing the job. Task identity: to ‘which degree the job need a completion of a whole, identifiable part of work that is doing a job from beginning to end with the touchable outcome.
Task significance: to which degree the job has a significant impact on the other people lives, whether those people are in the immediate organization or in the world at large. Autonomy: the degree to which the job provides substantial freedom, independence, and discretion to the individual in scheduling the work and in determining the procedure to be used in carrying it out.
Job feedback: to which degree doing the required work activities followed direct and clear information about the effectiveness of his or her performance.
Specific job characteristics. I.e. skill variety, task identity\ and task significance, affects the individual’s experience meaningfulness of work, autonomy influences experienced responsibility for outcomes: and feedback from job to knowledge of the actual results of the work activities
Hackman and Oldham (1976, 80) realized that not all individuals respond in a positive way to a job even if providing a highly motivating potential job. There are three people characteristics which are in specific important in affecting the relationship between the motivating task characteristic and employees outcomes those individual differences moderating both the job characteristics – psychological states relationship, as well as the psychological states outcome relationship (Hackman and Oldham, l980: Kulik, Oldham, and Hackman. 1987). They are knowledge’ and skill to perform the work, growth needs strength, and work contexts such as pay, job security, coworkers, and managers.
Hackman and Oldham (1976. 1980) define the following three psychological states: Experience one’s job as meaningful i.e. individual feel generally the work is worthwhile, valuable, or important for them through touching some values system he or she accepts. Experience one’s job as personal responsibility means that employees become personally accountable for the results of their job. Finally, the individuals who given knowledge about the results of their work will effectively know how they performing the job.
The theory argues that, individuals must be experienced all the three psychological states in order let the desired outcomes to emerge and if any one of three psychological stats is missed this will result in weakened of several desirable outcomes such as motivation and satisfaction. The theory asserts that the most significant variable outcome is the employees’ internal motivation which enhanced if performance is a stat of self-reward and feeling unhappy result from poor performance. Other proposed outcomes are growth satisfaction, general job satisfaction work effectiveness quality work performance, absenteeism, and turnover.
The JCM was the object of several empirical validations. These studies summarized in Humphrey, Nahrgang, and Morgeson (2007) meta-analytic paper which included over 259 studies. They confirm that all the five motivational characteristics were positively related to job satisfaction, growth satisfaction, and internal work motivation and a significant but lower relationship between the five characteristics and the absenteeism and a significant relationship between the objective job performance and autonomy.
In addition, to developing the JCM, Hackman and Oldham also contributed to the job-design literature by presenting a measure (Hackman & Oldham, 1976), which spurred empirical research.
Approaches to enrich employee’s job
The job characteristics model specifies ways in which jobs can be enriched to enhance their motivating potential (Hackman, 1976). Following the widely used five approaches include: vertical loading, natural grouping, and formation of natural teams, opening feedback channels, and establishing client relationships (Greenberg, 2011; Hellriegal ; Slocum, 2011; Robbins ; Judge, 2011).cited in (Lunenburg 2011)