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Job Redesign Journal Essay

5830 words - 24 pages

Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 1973, 3, 1, pp. 49-62

Effects of Job Redesign: A Field Experiment‘
EDWARD LAWLER J. RICHAKD E. III? HACKMAN, STANLEY AND KAUFMAN
Yale University
A telephone company project to redesign the job of directory assistance operator was: studied in order to determine the effects on workers of “job enrichment” programs. The change increased the amount of variety and the decisionmaking autonomy in the operator’s job. However, no change in work motivation, job involvement, or growth need satisfaction occurred as a result of the changes; instead, the changes had a significant negative impact on interpersonal relationships. After the changes, the older employees ...view middle of the document...

Unfortunately, as noted by Hulin and Blood (1968), job enlargement studies typically have been plagued
‘The authors would like to thank P. Butkovich, J. Clark, R. Heath, and A. Van Sinderen for their assistance. ‘Requests for reprints should be sent to Dr. Edward E. Lawler 111, Survey Research Center, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106.

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Copyright 0 1 9 7 3 by V. H. Winston & Sons, Inc.

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LAWLER 111. HACKMAN, AND KAUFMAN

by methodological difficulties. Further, with the possible exception of the wellknown “motivator-hygiene’’ theory of Herzberg et al. (1959), theories have not been developed which generate testable predictions about the effects of specific changes in the design of jobs on employees who differ in psychologically important ways. As a consequence of the methodological and conceptual problems in the past research, there are a number of central questions about work design which remain unanswered. In most studies, a number of different aspects of the job have been changed simultaneously-e.g., the amount of variety in the work, the amount of responsibility, the degree to which working with others is required, and so on. This has made it impossible to determine which specific job changes were in fact responsible for any observed changes in worker behavior or attitudes. Further, the generalizability of obtained effects across different populations of employees is largely unknown; with few exceptions, previous research has not ascertained how (or whether) job redesign differentially affects employees with different psychological characteristics. Finally, most previous research has not attended to the “side effects” of job design changes. They have not considered the impact of job enlargement on interpersonal relationships that employees develop over time. Almost any change in one job is likely to have strong effects on the job of the person who supervises that job and, therefore, on the nature of the superior-subordinate relationship; yet these effects typically have been ignored. One exception is a study by Alderfer (1967) which showed that in one organization satisfaction with interpersonal relationships declined with increased job complexity.

me Approach of the Present Research
Recently, Hackman and Lawler (1971) have presented a framework that makes predictions about how certain job characteristics should affect different groups of people. They adopt the expectancy theory approach as applied to work settings and job design by Lawler (1969), Porter and Lawler (1968), and Vroom (1964). Their approach enumerates four task attributes that are said to be crucial in determining how people will respond to jobs: autonomy, task identify (i.e., having a “whole” piece of work to do), variety, and feedback. According to Hackman and Lawler (1971), a job will be motivating and intrinsically satisfying only if it is high on all four of these “core” dimensions. Only then, they argue, will a person find that performing well...

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