Title: Job satisfaction among female nurses
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00097453/00001
 Material Information
Title: Job satisfaction among female nurses an analysis of a theory
Physical Description: vi, 213 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Taylor, Edward Calhoun, 1948-
Publication Date: 1980
Copyright Date: 1980
Subject: Job satisfaction   ( lcsh )
Nurses -- Kansas   ( lcsh )
Counselor Education thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Counselor Education -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1980.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 204-212.
Additional Physical Form: Also available on World Wide Web
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
Statement of Responsibility: by Edward Calhoun Taylor.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00097453
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000100265
oclc - 07336890
notis - AAL5726


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Edward Calhoun Taylor




ABSTRACT . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


I INTRODUCTION . . . . . .

Rationale. . .. . ..
Definition of Terms .
Purpose of the Study . .
Organization of the Study.


Historical Antecedents . . . .
Major Theories of Job Satisfaction .
Locus of Control . . . . .
Job Involvement . . . ....
Job Satisfaction in Nurses .. ..
Summary of Literature. . . . .

III METHODOLOGY. . . . . . .

Hypotheses .. . ...
Subjects . . . . .
Instruments. . . . .
Data Analysis. . . .
Summary. . . . . .

IV RESULTS . . . . . . .

JDS Means . . . . . .
Non-Demographic Data Description .
Objectivity of the Core Dimensions .
Correlations . . . . . .
Hypotheses . . . . . . .
Summary. . . . . . . .

V DISCUSSION . . . . . . .

Limitations . . . . . .
Recommendations for Further Study. .

S. 12
. . . 4
. . . 6
. . . 12





i i


A DEMOGRAPHIC DATA SHEET . . . . . . ... 193

B STRESS MEASURE ..................... 196

C AVERSIVENESS SCALE ................... 197

D SUMMARY OF INSTRUMENTS ................. 199

E SUMMARY OF METHODS ................... 201

REFERENCES. . . . . . . . . ... . . . ... 204

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ........................ 213

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Edward Calhoun Taylor

December, 1980

Chairman: Ted Landsman
Major Department: Counselor Education

Nursing job turnover has been examined from the perspectives of

several models of job satisfaction. Implementation of the results

of these studies has not reduced turnover significantly. The purpose

of this study was to more adequately describe the phenomenon of nursing

job satisfaction.

The theoretical foundation of this study was a modified version of

the job satisfaction model constructed by Hackman and Oldham.

Their basic theory states that workers who are desirous of higher order

need satisfaction respond favorably to five core job characteristics

which satisfy higher order needs: skill variety, task identity, task

significance, autonomy, feedback from the job itself. The consequence

is job satisfaction, personal growth, and heightened self-esteem.

Those workers who do not desire higher order need satisfaction will

not respond positively to the five job characteristics.

This theory was examined to determine whether it included both

breadth and depth necessary to be applicable to nursing work and to

determine if it was founded on any questionable theoretical

assumptions. Several modifications were proposed. Seven relation-

ships were hypothesized: (1) All nurses desire personal growth (higher

order need satisfaction), but they differ on whether they pursue it

through work or non-work activities (job involvement); (2) Locus of

control influences a nurse's experienced responsibility for work

outcomes; (3) Stress and task aversiveness decrease experienced meaning-

fulness of nursing work; (4) Interpersonal relationships are a source

of feedback about the outcome of work efforts; (5) Nursing job satis-

faction is influenced by satisfaction of lower order needs by the job;

(6) A broader additive model predicts job satisfaction in nurses

better than Hackman and Oldham's narrow multiplicative model; (7)

Variables which predict job satisfaction also predict propensity to

leave the job.

Thirty-six white, female, direct care nurses working in a medium-

sized general hospital comprised the sample. The subjects ages ranged

from 18 to 65 and all ages were equally represented. Seventy-five

percent were married. All work shifts and work units were adequately

represented. The nurses were stable vocationally but 47% had changed

jobs at least once during the previous five years.

The subjects were administered the Job Diagnostic Survey, the

Rotter I-E Scale, the Job Involvement Scale, and the Janis-Field

Feelings of Inadequacy Scale. Also measured were life satisfaction,

work stress, and aversiveness in the work.

Results of this study indicate that all nurses desire satis-

faction of higher order needs; they differ on whether these needs are

satisfied through work or non-work activities (job involvement).

Interpersonal relationships at the work place are a source of personal

growth, especially for less job involved nurses.

Interpersonal relationships at work also provide nurses with

feedback about the outcomes of their work efforts. This is particu-

larly true of the supervisory relationship. Nurses describe the

end products of their work as being ambiguous so feedback is vital to

job satisfaction.

Neither stress nor aversiveness affectsnurses' experienced

meaningfulness of their work. Aversiveness correlated significantly

with job satisfaction (r = -.32, p<.05) and with desire for complex

work (r = -.36, p<.05).

Satisfaction of lower order needs was related to job satisfaction.

The most important of these were interpersonal.

There was no evidence that locus of control influenced job satis-

faction. Internals experienced significantly greater responsibility

for work outcomes than did externals. Moderates, however, behaved like


An expanded model (including information in addition to task

characteristics) predicted job satisfaction among nurses better

(R = .80, p(.004) than the task characteristic only model (R = .22,

p<.26). An additive model performed better than a multiplicative

model. The results suggest that job satisfaction in nurses is complex

and multifaceted.


Historically, work has assumed a major role in the course of

human existence. To primitive persons the tasks of labor evolved

because of a prepotent need for survival and as such options relating

to work's nature, time, location, and duration were limited. Because

of a more complex and technologically sophisticated society, its

members found that the satisfaction of vital biological needs is less

dependent upon work; consequently, the number of alternatives with

respect to the role of work in the individuals' lives has increased

and the value of work has become multiply determined. Increasingly,

individuals are making decisions about their work by examining the

extent to which it satisfies needs which are more complex and abstract

than vital needs.

The importance of work satisfaction has been documented by

philosophers, scientists, and theologians alike. Kahlil Gibran (1951)

reflects upon the importance of his satisfaction to the quality of the

products of personal endeavors as he writes:

And if you cannot work with love but only with
distaste, it is better that you should leave your
work and sit at the gate of the temple and take
alms of those who work with joy.

For if you bake bread with indifference, you
bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man's

And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes,
your grudge distils a poison in the wine.

And if you sing though as angels, and love not
the singing, you muffle man's ears to the voices of
the day and the voices of the night. (p. 28)

The importance of satisfying work to the well being of the

individual is alluded to by Freud (1962) who proposes that work pro-

vides a person with "a secure place in a portion of reality, in the

human community" (p. 34). Terkel (1972) addresses self-esteen as a

central issue in his conclusions following several years of field

study along these lines:

No matter how bewildering the times, no matter
how dissembling the official language, those we
call ordinary are aware of a sense of personal
worth--or lack of it--in the work they do. (p. xxiv)

From primordial to contemporary times the work role has broadened to

include not only a means for biological survival but also a potential

source of satisfaction of higher order needs. The extent to which

work accomplishes the latter has become an important criterion for

making decisions about one's work life.

Concurrent with this shift has been a heightened awareness of the

necessity to understand the complex relationship between the nature of

work and its effect on the individual. According to Locke (1976), as

of 1976 at least 3,350 articles and dissertations on the variables

which influence an individual's satisfaction with work had been

written. The impetus for these studies was the recognition that work

dissatisfaction embraces widespread ramifications which include

organizations and those who are influenced by workers' efforts. The

hope has been that as the nature and dynamics of these conditions

become established remedial and preventive interventions for dysfunc-

tional person-work relationships may be developed.


When work is not satisfying one option which is frequently chosen

by an individual is to change jobs or in some cases vocations. The

nursing profession has been particularly plagued with personnel losses.

Estimates of job turnover in this profession range from 35 to 60

percent annually (McCloskey, 1974; Tirney & Wright, 1973). The finan-

cial cost of this attrition in the United States alone is staggering:

estimated costs for replacing one nurse range from $300 to $2,000,

depending upon the type of position to be filled and the geographical

location (Strilaeff, 1978; Tirney & Wright, 1973; Tuchi & Carr, 1971);

Strilaeff reports that in Canada the replacement cost approaches

twenty million dollars.

These fail to account for intangible costs such as low produc-

tivity of new staff, disruption of established work routines, staff

time devoted to new worker orientation, the psychological loss created

by a staff persons' departure, or the psycho-social impact of a change

on a staff person and their families. Some of these variables are

difficult, even impossible to measure from a financial perspective but

their powerful impact can be intuited. In truth, the overall results

of attrition in this profession are overwhelming.

Seybolt, Pavett, and Walker (1978) categorize turnover in nurses

as involuntary and voluntary. Involuntary turnover is due to

factors external to the worker-work relationship, such as the spouse

being transferred, or illness; voluntary turnover reflects a nurse's

decision to terminate in the absence of extrinsic mitigating factors.

Research reveals that as much as 75 percent of the turnover among

nurses involved with direct patient care is voluntary; it is this

problem with which this investigation is concerned.

Considering natural human variability one can assume that some

nurses would leave direct patient care positions because of a

proclivity toward other areas such as administration, teaching, or

research. It is also assumed that a number of nurses, especially

younger ones would change jobs frequently. Such behavior demonstrates

the inherent mobility characteristic of today's living style. These

observations, however, do not account for the inordinate level of

nurse turnover. Understandably, a portion of this attrition is due

to dissatisfaction with the job itself.

Recognition of the problem is not recent and a variety of pro-

posals have been presented to develop both remedial and preventive

interventions. Based on the current rate of turnover not only a

solution has yet to be found but further investigation of this phenom-

enon is warranted.

Definition of Terms

For the purposes of this investigation the following definitions

are given:

Job satisfaction. Although job satisfaction has been defined by

many researchers the essential elements of the definitions include a

positive affective response to the appraisal of one's job or job

experiences (Locke, 1976). Job satisfaction is distinguished from

morale which Viteles (1953, p. 284) defined as ". .. an attitude of

satisfaction with, desire to continue in, and willingness to strive

for the goals of a particular group or organization." Morale is

future oriented while job satisfaction is oriented on current and past

appraisals of a job situation. Too, morale indicates a group referent

while job satisfaction is typically based on a personal assessment of

job predicaments. Satisfaction must also be differentiated from job

involvement which will be defined later.


For this investigation job satisfaction is operationally defined

by the subjects' responses to the Job Diagnostic Survey (Hackman &

Oldham, 1975). This instrument provides scores for two aspects of this

phenomenon: general satisfaction with the job and specific satis-

faction with five separate dimensions of the job situation. (See

Chapters II and III for a more extensive presentation of this topic.)

General life satisfaction. General life satisfaction indicates

a positive affective response from individuals to their global life

situations. General life satisfaction will be operationally defined

by a subject's response to a single three alternative global item

previously used successfully by researchers to assess this phenomenon

(Robinson, 1977).

Satisfaction with self. Satisfaction with self indicates a liking

and respect for oneself which has some realistic basis. This term

will be operationally defined as a subject's score on the Janis-Field

Feelings of Inadequacy Scale (Eagly, 1967).

Job involvement. Job involvement reflects the degree to which an

individual's level of positive self-esteem is determined by the type

and amount of work performed; the core of their self image is greatly

influenced by their work and most of their living is done on the job

rather than away from it (Lodahl & Kejner, 1965). Job involvement

stems from the internalization of a value orientation toward work

during the early socialization process; it is a stable characteristic

of a person, irrespective of the work performed (Lodahl, 1964). Job

involvement includes a value system which determines a response to

work in general rather than a response to a specific job. Job

involvement is operationally defined as a subject's score on a job

involvement assessment scale which was developed by Lodahl and

Kejner (1965).

Locus of control. Locus of control describes the degree to which

a person believes that reward follows from or is contingent upon

behavior or personal attributes, i.e. that there is a causal relation-

ship between behavior and subsequent reward. If a person believes

that a reinforcement which follows behavior is not entirely contingent

upon the behavior but is under the influence of luck, fate, powerful

others, or that the causal relationship is inconsistent because of the

complexity of the forces within the environment, then that person is

said to exhibit a belief in an external locus of control. On the

other hand, if one believes that a reward is consistently contingent

upon one's behavior or relatively stable personal attributes, then

that person is said to believe in an internal locus of control. The

extent to which one attributes causality to an internal source vs. an

external source is not an all or none trait but may vary along a

continuum. Locus of control is operationally defined by the subject's

score on the Rotter I-E scale (Rotter, 1966).

Purpose of the Study

Modern interest in job satisfaction and in optimum performance at

work was initiated at the turn of the century with the introduction of

mechanization and assembly line work. Significant negative conse-

quences followed this radical shift in production methods for both

workers and organizations in which they were employed; thus, a need

for an investigation of this problematic issue quickly became apparent.

Historically, exploration of the phenomenon of job satisfaction

has occurred in three stages: Initially, investigators focused

attention on the nature of work characteristics and physical work

environment. In the early 1930's attention shifted to the workers

themselves and interpersonal relationships and this trend has con-

tinued. Most recent in its development is the exploration of the

work vis-a-vis its propensity to facilitate personal growth.

The nursing profession has been a target for research during

each of these stages but there has been little evidence of change

following the application of the studies' results. A plausible

explanation is that there has been a failure to provide a complete

description of the phenomenon of job satisfaction among nurses which

would allow development of effective interventions. This has been

the case regardless of the historical foundations upon which the

investigations were based. In an attempt to understand job satis-

faction vis-a-vis a personal growth model, Hackman and Oldham (1975)

presented theory of job satisfaction which led to the development

of the Job Diagnostic Survey. The purpose of this study is to explore

the work of nursing, using this theory as a foundation, so that a

more complete explication of the phenomenon of job satisfaction in

nurses might be developed.

In brief, Hackman and Oldham's theory assumes that five charac-

teristics of a task are responsible for producing job satisfaction;

this relationship is influenced by workers' desire for higher order

need satisfaction. The task characteristics (core job dimensions) are

assumed to be objective and measurable. They are defined below

(Oldham, Hackman, & Stepina, 1978, pp. 5-6):

1. Skill variety is the degree to which a job
requires a variety of different activities in
carrying out the work, which involve the use
of a number of different skills and talents of
the employee.

2. Task identity is the degree to which the job
requires completion of a "whole" and identifiable
piece of work--i.e., doing a job from beginning
to end with a visible outcome.

3. Task significance is the degree to which the
job has a substantial impact on the lives or work
of other people--whether in the immediate organi-
zation or in the external environment.

4. Autonomy is the degree to which the job pro-
vides substantial freedom, independence, and
discretion of the employee in scheduling the
work and in determining the procedures to be
used in carrying it out.

5. Feedback from the job itself is the degree to
which carrying out the work activities by the job
results in the employee obtaining direct and clear
information about the effectiveness of his or her

Hackman and Oldham (1975) contend that jobs which are designed

to include high levels of these core dimensions have the propensity

to facilitate a worker's personal growth and thus produce a positive

affective response in workers to their work, i.e. job satisfaction.

This relationship is qualified, however, by the suggestion that only

those desirous of personal growth (i.e. desiring to have higher order

needs satisfied) will respond favorably to jobs high on the core

dimensions. Such individuals are said to be high on growth need

strength, an individual difference variable also measured by the

Job Diagnostic Survey. The implication is that not all persons are

desirous of personal growth. (This synopsis of Hackman and Oldham's

theory is supplemented by a more extensive presentation in Chapter


Since its inception, the Job Diagnostic Survey and its underlying

theory have been used fairly successfully to diagnose a multitude of

jobs: 1) in describing the relationships among the core dimensions

of the jobs, and 2) workers' job satisfaction as moderated by workers'

growth need strength. The authors admit, however, that the explana-

tion of the relationship is still incomplete. This writer contends

that four factors should be considered which might add to the current

level in understanding the core dimension-job satisfaction relation-

ship. First, to repeat, Hackman and Oldham assume that all persons

do not desire personal growth, as measured by growth need strength;

that this difference is the primary moderating influence upon the

relationship. This writer suggests that this assumption is false,

that two additional individual difference variables, job involvement

and locus of control, must be considered as possible moderators upon

the job characteristic-job satisfaction relationship in order to

adequately define the relationship.

Second, Hackman and Oldham fail to consider the possible influ-

ence of other job-related variables that are either extrinsic or

intrinsic to the task and might influence satisfaction with the task.

For example, a job might be high on all of the core dimensions and

the worker might show high growth need strength yet it is conceivable

that a job might have aversive characteristics which could prevent

the worker from being satisfied with the job. This author suggests

that there are both environmental factors and task characteristics

unique in nursing which might be influential in the development of

job satisfaction.

Third, the authors claim that they measure the worker's general

level of satisfaction with work; yet they do not clearly define the

relationship between lower order need satisfactions and general job

satisfaction even though such factors are measured by the Job

Diagnostic Survey. This author suggests that the consideration of

variables such as satisfaction with pay and supervision will provide

additional information about the phenomenon of job satisfaction among


Finally, Hackman and Oldham propose a multiplicative, disjunctive

mathematical model for the prediction of job satisfaction based on

knowledge of job core dimensions. This model assumes that all of the

core dimensions and growth need strength must be present in high

quantities in order for job satisfaction to develop. This author

suggests that this model is inadequate: first, because it fails to

provide for the possibility that individual differences will result

in workers responding positively to some core characteristics more

than others or to work characteristics not considered by the theory;

second, because the use of a multiplicative mathematical model

necessitates multiplying the scores of some of the Job Diagnostic

Survey scales together which compounds their statistical error and

masks important relationships.

In summary, this study will begin by defining the characteristics

of the work of direct patient care nursing in terms of core

dimensions as specified by the Hackman and Oldham theory of job

satisfaction. This information will then be used as a foundation

for explaining the process of job satisfaction among nurses by examin-

ing it in terms of the model proposed by Hackman and Oldham. While

their model has been adequate in its description of the dynamics of

job satisfaction, it has four limitations which this writer suggests

make the description incomplete. Thus, this study will offer a more

complete description of job satisfaction among nurses by considering

additional information which might add to the theory's description of

job satisfaction.

Clarification of the dynamics of job dissatisfaction among nurses

will provide guidelines for establishing effective interventions

against it. The actions might be remedial or preventive in nature

and could assume such forms as work re-design, pre-education counsel-

ing, or pre-employment placement advisement. If consideration of

additional influences on job satisfaction among nurses provides a

more complete description of the phenomenon than the Hackman and

Oldham model alone researchers might be encouraged to explore the

use of the expanded model with other vocational groups.

This fundamental descriptive research will provide the oppor-

tunity to investigate the following research questions:

1. Will information relative to nurses' beliefs about locus of

control be useful in better predicting satisfaction with work?

2. Will information about nurses' job involvement be useful in

better predicting satisfaction with work?

3. Will information about the characteristics of nurses' work

which were not considered by Hackman and Oldham be useful in better

predicting satisfaction with work?

4. Will information about the degree to which a job satisfies

the nurses' lower order needs be useful in better predicting satis-

faction with work?

5. The model which Hackman and Oldham present predicts job

satisfaction based on knowledge of core job dimensions and worker's

growth need strength; it specifies that each core job dimension as

well as growth need strength must be present in high quantities in

order for the worker to experience job satisfaction. Might a simpler

additive non-disjunctive model (which includes the Hackman and Olham

predictors as well as those entities shown by this study to be of

possible influence on job satisfaction development) better predict job

satisfaction among nurses?

6. Will information which predicts nurses' job satisfaction also

predict a propensity to leave their jobs?

Organization of the Study

The remainder of this study is organized into four chapters and

the appendices. Chapter II presents an overview of the development

of and research in the field of job satisfaction with special emphasis

on the theoretical foundations of Hackman and Oldham's Job Diagnostic

Survey. The possible relationships of job satisfaction to locus of

control, self esteem, and job involvement will be considered. A

review of the literature on job satisfaction in nurses will conclude

this section. Chapter III covers the methods and procedures of the

study, hypotheses, design, and descriptions of the assessment instru-

ments. The results are presented in Chapter IV. Chapter V provides

an overview of the conclusions of the study and allows the researcher

to suggest the implications of the results.


This review covers four areas. The initial section presents an

overview of the historical development of research in the area of job

satisfaction as well as brief summaries of each of the major theories

in this field. This is followed by an in-depth explication of the

development and principles of Hackman and Oldham's theory of job

satisfaction including a presentation of their assessment instrument,

the Job Diagnostic Survey. Next, individual difference variables

expectancy of locus of control and job involvement will be reviewed

and their relationships to Hackman and Oldham's theory will be

suggested. Finally, an overview of the current research on job

satisfaction in nurses will be provided.

Historical Antecedents

The study of job satisfaction per se did not begin until the

1930's although its roots are found much earlier in history. At the

turn of the century the predominant influence on industrial practices

was the principle of scientific management. This school of thought

held that workers who received the greatest possible compensation with

the least possible fatigue would be the most satisfied and productive.

The pre-1930's research in job satisfaction comprised the first

of three historical trends. It investigated workers' attitudes and

productivity vis-a-vis scientific management and focused on the

influence of the physical condition of work on the worker; individual

differences were usually ignored (Taylor, 1970).

The problem of fatigue reduction commanded a good deal of

interest and continued to be studied during World War I and into the

1930's. In Britain, the Industrial Health and Fatigue Research Boards

studied the effects of hours of work and rest on fatigue and per-

formance (Vernon, 1921); other investigation focused on the effects of

environmental conditions such as lighting and ventilation (Burt, 1931;

Viteles, 1932). Concurrently, a related phenomenon, boredom, was

being investigated; some researchers considered the influence of a

more varied set of factors, e.g. intelligence, rest pauses, work batch

size, work variety, and social relationships. However, the inclusion

of variables other than those which were environmental was not exten-

sively used at this time and did not receive continuing support

(Locke, 1976).

A shift in investigative trends was marked by a series of studies

which were conducted to explore the effects of rest pauses and incen-

tives on productivity, a thesis in line with previous research on

scientific management. The now famous Hawthorne studies of the

early 1930's, conducted by Mayo (1960; 1970), provided some

unexpected results. The workers did not respond in a purely

mechanistic fashion to the interventions made and the authors con-

cluded that the workers' attitude, i.e. their subjective appraisals

of the work situation, influenced their reactions to the job, a

relationship suggested by Taylor a decade before. The Hawthorne

studies began the human relations trend in the study of job satis-

faction, a movement which has persisted in various forms into the

present. The central tenet of this orientation is that relationships

among the workers, their supervisors, and their work group are of

primary importance in determining their satisfaction with their work.

Homans (1950), Whyte (1955), Fleishman and Harris (1962), Likert

(1961), Marrow, Bowers, and Seashore (1967) are among the primary

investigators in the human relations model.

The human relations approach reached its zenith in the late

1950's and early 1960's. With the publication of the work of

Herzberg, Mausner, and Snyderman in 1959 came the beginning of the

third trend in the investigation of job satisfaction. It was at this

time the researchers returned to the investigation of the work itself

as a primary cause of job satisfaction. Unlike the earlier work of

the Industrial Health Research Boards which focused almost exclusively

on the horizontal enlargement of work (e.g. variety) to increase

worker satisfaction, this trend included the investigation of the

effects of vertical enlargement of the work (e.g. providing the

opportunity for personal growth through the job). These efforts which

have created much interest in the past two decades (Ford, 1969;

Hackman & Lawler, 1971; Maher, 1971) are called the job enrichment


In summary, there have been three developmental trends in the

study of job satisfaction. The first placed a heavy emphasis on the

work environment, the horizontal nature of the work, and the remuner-

ation received. The second approach, the human relations school, was

initiated during the early 1930's and focused on the interpersonal

relationships in the work setting. Finally, attention has turned

back to the importance of the characteristics of the work itself but

with particular interest being given to the work traits which afford

the opportunity for the employee's personal growth. To some extent,

each of these trends is apparent in the research today although the

latter is ascendant. From these three trends, four major theories of

job satisfaction have arisen; these trends will be briefly reviewed.

They include the Herzberg's Motivator-Hygiene theory, the Activation

Theory, the Socio-Technical Systems theory, and Hackman's theory of

Job Enrichment.

Major Theories of Job Satisfaction

Motivator-Hygiene Theory

The Motivator-Hygiene (or Two-Factor) theory of job satisfaction

arose from the findings of an investigation in which engineers and

accountants were asked to describe occasions when they were particu-

larly satisfied and dissatisfied with their jobs (Herzberg, Mausner,

and Snyderman, 1959). Incidents mentioned in their accounts were

grouped according to apparent common characteristics; the frequency

with which each category was mentioned was then determined.

Two major groups of incidents emerged, the first involved the

work itself and included such items as achievement, promotions, and

responsibility. These factors were cited frequently as being sources

of satisfaction but infrequently as sources of dissatisfaction. This

category was named the Motivators.

The variables in the second major grouping were most often

identified as sources of dissatisfaction and infrequently mentioned

as causes for satisfaction. These Hygienes were incidents that were

concerned with the context in which the work was performed; they in-

cluded variables such as supervision, interpersonal relations, pay,

and company policy.

According to the Two-Factor theory, job satisfaction and

dissatisfaction result from separate and independent causes. Satis-

faction depends upon the presence of Motivators while dissatisfaction

comes from the absence or inadequacy of the Hygienes. The absence of

Motivators will not produce dissatisfaction if the Hygienes are

present; satisfaction will not occur in the absence of Motivators,

irrespective of the quality or quantity of the Hygienes present.

Herzberg (1966) later tied his theory of job satisfaction to a

theory of the nature of the person. The central theme of his theory

is that humans possess two independent sets of needs: physical and

psychological. The physical needs operate on a tension reduction

basis, i.e. when unfulfilled needs occur the organism is motivated to

reduce the tension experienced. No pleasure is derived from the

ensuing behavior, only pain avoidance.

The psychological needs are equated with the needs for growth,

i.e. to use one's mind in a productive fashion. These needs only

propel the organism in a positive direction, i.e. attainment of the

behavior's goal yields pleasure; failure to satisfy these needs does

not produce displeasure.

Herzberg draws a parallel between this dualistic need system and

the two factors of job satisfaction. Hygienes serve to fulfill or

frustrate physical needs; Motivators satiate or frustrate psychologi-

cal needs. Therefore, the reduction of psychological needs via the

Motivators in the work situation will produce pleasure (job satis-

faction); yet the failure to satisfy these growth needs will not

produce dissatisfaction unless the job's Hygiene factors are insuffi-

cient. The Hygienes, on the other hand, are necessary for the

fulfillment of physical needs vis-a-vis work; without them tension is

not reduced and displeasure (job dissatisfaction) results. Reduction

of this tension does not produce pleasure (job satisfaction), merely

the avoidance of displeasure (job dissatisfaction).

There are several logical criticisms of Herzberg's work which

must be mentioned. The first is his reliance on a dichotomous view

of mind and body when these systems are not independent. For example,

in humans the mind is necessary in order for the many physical needs

to be satisfied and, in extreme instances, even for physical survival.

A second criticism of Herzberg's view of humans and job satis-

faction concerns his conceptualization of the operation of needs.

First, the hydraulic tension-reduction model of motivation is no

longer considered accurate. Also, his description of the mode of

operation as being unidirectional is inconsistent with observed

phenomena. For example, as a rule a neurotic's dissatisfaction is

due to a failure to grow rather than to frustrated physical needs.

Also, in the process of fulfilling physical needs, satisfaction of

psychological needs may occur, e.g. eating may be pleasurable due to

the taste of the food. In the first instance, dissatisfaction occurs

from the frustration of a psychological need (absence of a Motivator)

and in the latter case satisfaction occurs with the fulfillment of a

physical need (presence of a Hygiene). Thus, the Two-Factor theory

is logically contradicted.

A third criticism of Herzberg's theory is that in organizational

practice the two systems are not independent. For example, maniag~rial

decisions or relationships with supervisors (Hygienes) may influence

promotion or achievement (Motivators). Herzberg fails to account for

the lack of independence between the systems.

Finally, Herzberg fails to consider the impact of individual

differences in the relationships among Motivators, Hygienes, and the

workers' affective responses to work. Some investigators have found

that all workers do not value jobs that allow or promote psychological

growth (Hulin, 1971; Hulin & Blood, 1968). If this is the case, how

does one explain the satisfaction that such workers might derive from

work? It may be that their values conflict with their needs or that

Herzberg's theory is not as generalizable as he supposed (Locke,

1969). The answer to this question is unclear and requires further


Evaluating the empirical evidence concerning Herzberg's theory is

difficult because he has been inconsistent in the presentation of his

reasoning. King (1970) describes five versions of the Two-Factor

theory so the available research must be similarly grouped. This

presentation will only consider examples of the research pertaining

to King's Theory V which states that satisfaction is determined pre-

dominantly by Motivators and dissatisfaction predominantly by


The validity of this theory is cast into doubt by the finding

that only Herzberg's methodology consistently replicates his findings.

Locke and Schneider (1971), in consideration of the logical lack of

independence between the Motivators and Hygienes, used an agent/event

system to classify incidents described by their subjects as causing

satisfaction or dissatisfaction. They found that the same class of

events was responsible for both satisfaction and dissatisfaction and

that these incidents were primarily task related Motivator types such

as success, promotion, and responsibility.

Along the same line, the hypothesis that defensive bias would

play a role in the attribution of responsibility for satisfaction and

dissatisfaction has been tested (Locke, 1973; Locke & Schneider, 1971;

Wall, 1973). The most direct evidence was provided by Wall who asked

77 employees of a chemical company to describe sources of satisfaction

and dissatisfaction for each of three different time periods. A

measure of ego defensiveness was administered and a significant corre-

lation was found-between defensiveness and the proportion of dissatis-

fiers mentioned which were Hygienes. As most of Herzberg's Hygienes

are agents rather than events, the study concluded that the self was

typically given credit for success (satisfaction) and others were

typically blamed for failure (dissatisfaction). Thus Herzberg's dual

system was a function of ego protective maneuvers rather than an accu-

rate description of the work situation.

In summary, Herzberg's Two-Factor theory of job satisfaction has

had a major impact heuristically. His theory has also demonstrated

some work, personal growth, and job satisfaction relationships. This

latter concept is a cornerstone for the job enrichment approach to job

satisfaction which is described later. Two major criticisms of

Herzberg's work revolve around his dualistic conceptualization of

physical and psychological needs and his thesis on the undirectional

influence of these needs on satisfaction and dissatisfaction. These

tenets have been challenged empirically with the typical findings

suggesting that the two systems are related, that attribution of

responsibility for satisfaction may be influenced by defensiveness.

Activation Theory

The activation theory of job satisfaction which had its origin

in the early 1900's research on scientific management has no single

proponent. To being with, this research focused on the effects of

fatigue on job performance and satisfaction of workers. A result of

the emerging age of automation and mechanization was the creation of

many specialized, routine, repetitive, and simplified tasks; an out-

growth of these changes was the investigation of the effects of bore-

dom on performance and satisfaction. Activation theorists continued

with the investigation of the degree of horizontal enlargement of a

job, then expanded it by including evidence of a neurophysiological

substrate for the observed behavioral patterns. Currently, activation

theory is intimately tied to psychoneurological concepts such as the

influence of the reticular formation on general organismic arousal and

affective response. Its propositions offer explanation and some

predictive evidence for the effects of repetitive tasks as well as for

the impact of factors such as music, feedback, and noise on perfor-

mance, satisfaction, and proclivity for accidents. This section will

briefly describe the historical foundation for activation theory and

present neuropsychological evidence for its validity. It will con-

clude with a discussion of the significance of activation theory in

relation to task performance.

With the advent of the industrial revolution came the process of

automation and work specialization. The factory workers, unlike the

craftsmen, were now responsible for only a small portion of the

process of creating the final product. Thus they found they might

repeat this simplified task many times during a day's work. The

problem of sustaining performance levels in work areas which had been

simplified by specialization became well known.

In an early investigation of the effects of this sub-

specialization, Vernon (1921) describes the increase in boredom and

decrease in satisfaction among workers whose jobs were characterized

by a very short cycle of repeating task behaviors. These effects were

also found by later investigators among assembly line workers (Strauss

& Sayles, 1960; Walker & Guest, 1952). Vernon attributed these

observations to a decrease in the amount of task variety offered by

the segmented job as compared to the opportunity to construct the

entire article.

An alternative explanation suggested that the repeated perfor-

mance of the task resulted in increased levels of worker fatigue.

This thesis was inconsistent with two lines of empirical findings,

however. Several researchers noted that a decrement in performance

level was not associated with the typical physiological indices of

fatigue (Ghiselli & Brown, 1955; Tiffin & McCormick, 1965) and

Broadbent (1958), following the findings of early learning theorists

(Ammons, 1947; Hull, 1943; Pavlov, 1927), concluded that the decreased

performance level was a function of the number of times the stimulus

task was presented rather than the frequency with which the task

response was actually performed. Further evidence concluded that

increasing the complexity of the task response or the task stimulus

temporarily alleviated or postponed motivational drift; this finding

was consistent with Vernon's contention. It was concluded that rou-

tinization led to dissatisfaction.

Modern activation theory has developed from the neuropsycho-

logical investigation of the reticular formation. This structure

extends from the lower brain stem through the pons and midbrain into

the hypothalamus and thalamus. The reticular formation's cortical

projection system is diffuse and nonspecific; it itself receives

collateral projections from the ascending sensory tracks as well as

from the cortex. Consequently, the effect of reticular formation

activity is generalized while specific information about the stimulus,

such as location, is typically lost. The structure itself may be

subdivided into the brainstem reticular formation (BSRF) and the

thalamic reticular formation (TRF) with the former having the greater

interest for activation theorists.

The BSRF has the effect of increasing the general arousal of the

organism in response to the stimulation of an extero- or interoceptor.

Further, the nature of the BSRF's response may be moderated by corti-

cal activity and vice versa. Additional evidence (Scott, 1966),

suggests that the BSRF may be involved in habituation to a stimulus;

deactivating the structure with Nembutal will stop the habituation

process while recovery from the drug leads to recovery of the habitu-

ation. The nature of BSRF activity is summarized by Scott as follows:

stimulation from exteroceptive, interoceptive, or cortical sources

sets up recurrent discharges in the BSRF which (a) outlast the stimu-

lus in their effect, (b) diminish with repeated stimulus presentation,

and (c) recover following cessation of the stimulus presentation.

This activity has the effect of increasing general organismic arousal

and shows a reciprocally influential relationship with cognitive

processes such as perception.

Further effects of BSRF activity are suggested by Olds and

Milner (1954) and Young (1961) who provide evidence that an organism's

affective response is also mediated by neural mechanisms, that these

structures are separate from but not independent of the BSRF. Hence,

an interrelationship among activation, affect, and behavior is


With the aforementioned historical and neuropsychological foun-

dation in mind, the tenets of activation theory may now be presented.

In general, the degree of activation of any organism is a major factor

in a wide range of behavioral processes; the level of organismic

activation is a function of the degree of excitation of the BSRF

(Fiske & Maddi, 1961; Malmo, 1959). There are several characteristics

of stimuli which affect BSRF stimulation: the intensity, novelty,

speed of presentation, mode of introduction, and uncertainty of

introduction (Scott, 1966). Others, such as the complexity and

meaningfulness of the stimulus, are influenced by perceptual factors

within the organism. As pointed out above, perceptual processes are

influenced by cortical activity which influences and is influenced by

the BSRF.

The relationship between arousal and performance is described by

the well-known inverted U curve. Both low and high levels of acti-

vation result in decreased performance levels while maximum output

occurs at some intermediate value of arousal.

The relationship between affect and arousal which has been

described by Fiske and Maddi (1961) is similar. Each organism

demonstrates a mean or typical level of activation which results in a

pleasant, affective response by the organism. As the activation level

deviates from the mean in either direction, the affective response

becomes less pleasant; eventually, it becomes unpleasant for the

organism. This state of displeasure motivates the being to ennaie in

behaviors designed to shift the arousal level back toward the

mean value.

The principles of activation theory have been applied to the

problems facing workers in their jobs. Several predictions are made

concerning behavior if the task presents the four attributes of

constant repetition, a limited range of responses, simplicity in the

task stimulus configuration, and temporal regularity. In this

situation, increased familiarity with the task and the environment

will lead to habituation in the BSRF and decreased arousal. The

workers will engage in behaviors designed to eliminate the ensuing

negative affect; these behaviors typically interfere with the per-

formance of the task, hence the performance decrement. Examples of

these behaviors which might increase the activation level are day-

dreaming, increasing proprioceptive stimulation by stretching, moving

to another environment, or engaging in social activity. Each of

these behaviors is extrinsic to the task and probably would result

in a performance decrement. On the other hand, workers might elect

to enlarge the job horizontally (increase the variety in the task);

for example, the task might be subdivided into discrete units in order

to increase the frequency of feedback about performance, or the order

in which subsets of the task are performed might be varied. The

result is a temporary increase in the complexity or variety of the job

and an increase in the level of activation without a decrement in

performance. If the task characteristics are in the extreme opposite

direction, one might expect the workers to engage in arousal reducing


If the job has the flexibility to allow the workers to engage in

these behaviors, the overall effect is an increase in the quality of

the work, satisfaction with the work and sometimes quantity of the

work (Davis, 1957). If not, a predictable set of responses occur:

increased task completion time, product variability, irritability,

restlessness, errors, daydreaming, accidents, and turnover (Scott,


Several means of designing jobs to protect against these

phenomena have been proposed. Known collectively as horizontal job

enlargement, they include introducing rest pauses, providing more

opportunities for knowledge of the results of one's efforts (Mackworth,

1950), adding music to the background (Uhbrock, 1961), and increasing

the variety inherent in the task.

In summary, the activation theory of job satisfaction has

demonstrated that the stimulus value of a task has an empirically

supported effect on performance and satisfaction with the task.

Interventions for unsatisfactory situations have been proposed and

successfully tested.

There are several major criticisms of the activation theory as

a sufficient perspective for coping with job dissatisfaction. The

first is its narrow range of focus, i.e. it does not consider

influences on performance other than the task characteristics with

respect to arousal potential. This restricts its applicability to

most jobs in part only. Also, several other factors, e.g. social

relationships and individual differences,have a demonstrated effect

on the workers which are tangentially considered only.

The second criticism involves measurement. Stimulus character-

istics may be defined and adequately quantified (Berlyne, 1966).

However, defining a job in terms of its stimulus value is feasible

only on a general level; thus the theory loses some of its strength in

the practical situation. Also, no convenient (or humane) method

currently exists either for measuring the activation level of individ-

uals working in the actual job situation or for determining the

optimum level of activation for each individual.

Finally, the process by which activation levels change with

changing stimuli is not understood. According to activation theory

the procedure of job rotation should provide a permanent solution for

job dissatisfaction as individuals are provided with a varying set of

stimuli each time the arousal level deviates from the optimal level.

This has not been established empirically and observation provides

contradictory evidence (Hackman & Oldham, 1974).

Socio-Technical Theory

The socio-technical systems theory of job design focuses on the

interaction between the technological characteristics of the job and

the social system of the work situation. This relationship is said

to have an influence on worker performance and satisfaction. The

impetus for the development of this approach is similar to that of the

activation theory, although the two diverge from that point. In the

1940's a movement was undertaken to mechanize the process of coal

mining. This resulted in the dissolution of the small self regulatory

mining teams within which each individual was responsible for com-

pletion of the entire series of mining tasks. These teams were

replaced by 40-50 individuals, each working on a single task at

their own rate. While each miner worked independently, completion of

the work was dependent upon the work performance of all. The groups

of miners working on a similar task tended to optimize the working

conditions for themselves but often at the expense of those working

on subsequent tasks. This resulted in low cooperation, scapegoating,

increased absenteeism, and decreased performance. Morris (1947) and

Halliday (1948) conducted psychiatric investigations of the effects

of this mechanization process and discovered that the incidence of

psychosomatic disorders among the miners had reached epidemic pro-

portions. Clearly a problem was at hand.

The socio-technical theory of job design dates its beginning

with the publication of an article by Bamforth (Herbst, 1974). It

presented the results of the social and psychological consequences

of the mechanization of coal mining. The conclusions reached by

Bamforth concerning the causes of the difficulties which had been

described by Morris (1947) and Halliday (1948) represent the tenets

of socio-technical theory. First, the design of the technological

system of the work process defines and limits the nature of the

social system among the workers by specifying the nature of the work

roles and the interdependent relationships among them. Second, work

performance and socio-psychological issues are influenced by the joint

operation of the two systems. If the technological system is

emphasized over the social system (a goal of management), initial

productivity will be high but worker dissatisfaction will ensue with

a consequent decrement in performance quality and quantity. If the

social system is of primary concern, production inefficiency will be

high in spite of worker satisfaction. The third major thesis of this

approach is that a dysfunction in the social system which results

in adverse socio-psychological events for the workers cannot be

resolved through intervention in the social system. The change must

occur in the technological system because it defines and delimits the

social system. The final point is that the goal should be the opti-

mization of both systems.

A serendipitous series of events one year later led to a

revision of this scheme. Some of the workers began to spontaneously

develop autonomous work groups which were highly cohesive and worked

cooperatively within and between shifts. Many of the adverse conse-

quences of the new mining procedure diminished in effect and a general

movement to redesign the social system without interfering with the

technological system began to develop. This was especially evident

with respect to the study of autonomous work groups (Herbst, 1962)

and alternatives to traditional power hierarchies (Herbst, 1976)

within the work organization. Consequently, socio-technical theory

was revised to suggest that the technical system offered a limited

choice of possible social systems which might evolve, rather than just

one system and that these social systems might vary in their effects.

This rationale continued until 1966 when the first attempt to

design an entire socio-technological work unit was conducted (Herbst,

1974). The current focus of this theory is on the design of the work

unit to maximize both the efficiency and productivity of the techno-

logical system and the flexibility and autonomous decision making

capability inherent in the social system.

This approach to job performance and satisfaction has provided a

useful but general way of looking at the interaction between the

characteristics of a job and the social milieu in which it occurs.

However, there are three major criticisms which diminish its useful-

ness. First, the dynamics of the interaction between the systems are

poorly delineated and the theory is therefore very difficult to test.

Second, little direction is offered for carrying out the redesign of

problematic jobs except for generally attending to both of the compo-

nent systems. Finally, no means are provided for diagnosing a job or

measuring the effects of job redesign.

Job Characteristics and Individual Differences

As with the three aforementioned theories, the task character-

istics/individual differences model of job satisfaction has its

developmental roots in the early attempts to thwart adverse effects

of job specialization. The specific method of job redesign espoused

by this approach is termed job enlargement or job enrichment. It

involves not only increasing the variety and complexity of the job

(horizontal enlargement) but also expanding the opportunities avail-

able to the worker for autonomous decision making (vertical enlarge-

ment). The most recently developed version of this theory (Hackman &

Oldham, 1974, 1975; Oldham et al., 1978) proposes that the vertical and

horizontal dimensions of a job influence the satisfaction which

workers derive from the work and the quality of performance demonstra-

ted. Further, this relationship is moderated by an individual differ-

ence variable, growth need strength, i.e. the extent to which the

workers are desirous of satisfying higher order needs. The proponents

of this model concurrently developed the theory and a means of

measuring the variables specified by the theory to be important in

job redesign. This section explores the simultaneous development of

Hackman and Oldham's job satisfaction model and their assessment

instrument, the Job Diagnostic Survey. Logical criticisms of the

theory and its current status vis-a-vis the available empirical evi-

dence are presented.

Historical antecedents. The early approach to research on job

enlargement was characterized by numerous case studies in which jobs

were redesigned and measures of employee satisfaction and performance

were taken. While the jobs were typically enlarged so that they became

more meaningful and challenging to the workers, the investigations

usually lacked both methodological rigor and a conceptual framework

through which the results might have been systematized and critically

evaluated (Hulin & Blood, 1968). One exception to these weak studies

was the work of Turner and Lawrence (1965) whose findings provided

part of the foundation for Hackman and Oldham's theoretical model.

In an effort to measure job characteristics Lawrence and Turner

reviewed the literature on job satisfaction and absenteeism and

extracted six requisite task attributes (RTA) expected to be corre-

lated positively with job satisfaction and attendance. Operational

definitions for each RTA were formulated and 47 jobs were measured

on these characteristics by observation and interview. The results

indicated that the six RTA (variety, autonomy, required interaction,

optional interaction, knowledge and skill required, and responsibility)

were highly related to one another so the researchers developed a

linear combination (RTA Index) of the six task characteristics which

summarized their scores. This composite score was used to examine

the relationship between RTA, job satisfaction and absenteeism.

The expectation that workers in jobs high on RTA would report

higher satisfaction and attendance than would those workers in low

RTA jobs was not met consistently. Instead, only workers in rural

areas showed this relationship; urban employees exhibited an inverse

relationship between RTA and job satisfaction and no relationship

between absenteeism and work attributes. The authors concluded that

subcultural differences in values moderated the relationship.

Evidence supporting this conclusion was offered by Blood and

Hulin (1967) and Hulin and Blood (1968) who had hypothesized that

endorsement of traditional work values, e.g. the Protestant Work

Ethic, moderated the relationship between RTA and job satisfaction.

Because rural workers are more likely to hold to these values than

are urban workers the differences between the two groups in the Turner

and Lawrence study were explicated. These conclusions called into

questions the idea that generalized job redesign would improve worker

satisfaction or performance and hinted at the possible moderating

effects of individual difference, at least on a subcultural level.

An initial investigation. Hackman and Lawler carried this line

of reasoning one step further and suggested that individual differ-

ences within subcultural groups may also influence the relationship

between job characteristics and the workers' satisfaction, perfor-

mance, and attendance. To explore this proposition, they drew upon

expectancy theory (Lewin, 1938; Tolman, 1959) vis-a-vis work situ-

ations (Vroom, 1964; Porter & Lawler, 1968) to establish their

theoretical foundation. Then they presented five major suppositions

basic to their research which are presented below.

1. If one believes that by engaging in a certain behavior one

will obtain some valued outcome, the probability of ones emitting that

behavior is increased. The valued outcome may be extrinsic (e.g. pay,

goods, etc.) or intrinsic (e.g. self-satisfaction) and is a motivator

for the exhibition of the specified behavior.

2. An outcome will be valued to the extent that it either

satisfies or is expected to satisfy a psychological or physical need,

or to the extent that it has instrumental value, i.e. may be used to

obtain other valued outcomes.

3. If the working conditions are such that the employees satisfy

their own needs by working toward organizational goals then the

workers will diligently strive for those goals (McGregor, 1960).

4. The concepts of Maslow's (1943; 1954) need hierarchy are

applicable as most lower order needs (physical and safety) are usually

well satisfied in our culutre; they also tend to diminish as they are

satiated. Higher order needs (e.g. personal growth) on the other hand

do not diminish in strength as they are met. In fact, satisfaction

of these needs may actually increase their strength. This suggests

that satisfaction of the higher order needs of the workers through

their work may lead to an ongoing and escalating motivational process

quite unlike that induced by sating lower order needs (Alderfer,

1967, 1969). A caveat is proffered, however: not all employees are

motivated by higher order needs, i.e. individual differences must be


5. The individuals who are motivated by higher order needs will

experience the satisfaction of the need when they receive feedback

that their personal efforts have resulted in something they believe

to be worthwhile. Hence, workers capable of higher order need

satisfaction will be most likely to achieve such satisfaction if

their work is personally meaningful and the job situation provides

feedback on the adequacy of their work efforts.

In summary, a job which permits workers to satisfy higher order

needs will be so designed that the workers feel personally responsible

for a significant and meaningful segment of the task, receive an

outcome which is personally meaningful and receive feedback about the

results of their efforts. If workers desire higher order need satis-

faction and work conditions are as stated above, then hard work

toward organizational goals will result in higher order need satis-

faction which, in turn, produces an escalating motivation to continue

working hard and receiving satisfying outcomes. Further, the organi-

zational goals of high quantity and high quality performance will

be met.

If the above are the general factors which affect employee

satisfaction and organizational goal attainment, how might specific

job characteristics which lead to this state of affairs be defined?

Hackman and Lawler turned to the concept of Requisite Task Attributes

(RTA) as defined by Turner and Lawrence (1965) to seek an operational

definition for these task characteristics. They proposed that four

of the RTA (autonomy, task identity, task variety, and feedback)

would provide adequate specifications for the design of the job to

allow exploration of proposed relationships.

The job must allow the workers to feel personally responsible

for a meaningful part of the work, as well as for the outcome. The

concept of autonomy appears applicable, for if workers are allowed

autonomous functioning, they are more likely to attribute success and

failure to their own efforts rather than to those of others. Bene-

fiting from favorable results of one's efforts results in a sense of

accomplishment and self-esteem.

The second general characteristic of work which offers oppor-

tunity for higher order need satisfaction is that the job yields a

product which is personally meaningful to the workers. Obviously,

if outcomes of one's endeavors were not personally valued, one would

gather little self-gratification from them and would not work for


Two attributes of a job enhance its potential to yield outcomes

which would be valued by individuals desirous of higher order need

satisfaction: The first is task identity, the production of an

identifiable whole piece of work which allows workers to recognize

that they have accomplished something. Such jobs have four basic

attributes: (a) there is a definite sense of a cycle of beginning

and ending a transformation; (b) the transformation process is easily

identifiable by the workers; (c) the presence of the transformation

in the product is readily identified; (d) the transformation is of

significant magnitude.

The second attribute of a job which provides workers with a

personally meaningful product is the variety present. Variety, which

challenges without overwhelming workers, allows for the utilization of

many skills and is likely to be perceived as meaningful.

The final general characteristic of a job with a high potential

for satisfying higher order needs in workers is ability to provide

feedback to workers concerning the quality of their performance.

Feedback may come from the work itself, or from others, but it must

be presented in a way that is believable and comprehendable. Without

this knowledge of results workers are unable to obtain higher order

need satisfaction.

One further point must be made about the effect of these four

job attributes on workers. Hackman and Lawler explicitly state that

it is not

.their objective state which affects employee
attitudes and behavior, but rather how they are
experienced by the employees. Regardless of the
amount of feedback (or variety, or autonomy, or
task identity) a worker really has in his work,
it is how much he perceives that he has which
will affect his reactions to the job . there
are often substantial differences between the
objective job characteristics and how they are
perceived by employees. ..(Hackman & Lawler,
1971, pp. 265-266)

In summary, the internal motivation to work in workers desirous

of higher order need satisfaction may be affected by perceptions of

the objective characteristics of jobs. Jobs which are perceived to be

high in autonomy, task identity, task variety, and feedback should

provide the greatest potential for satisfying higher order needs. In

fact, the harder the workers perform such a job, the greater the

satisfaction. As mentioned earlier in this section, the concept of

task attributes is based on the Lawrence and Turner research. However,

Herzberg's influence, activation theory, and socio-technological

theory are also clearly seen.

From these theoretical considerations, the authors then set forth

to test their propositions empirically. Following definitions of

Turner and Lawrence, measures of the four critical corc conditions

(autonomy, task identity, task variety, feedback) were developed. In

addition, the job attributes of dealing with others and friendship

opportunities were operationalized. These two variables follow Turner

and Lawrence's study with very little modification; they were intended

to provide some measure of the interpersonal nature of the work

situation. The former describes the extent to which workers must

interact with others in order to complete their work; the latter

measures availability of opportunities in work to develop informal

relationships among workers. The final independent variable defined

was individual need strength: the degree to which an individual

desires higher order need satisfaction.

Measures of several dependent variables were developed to assess

employees' reactions to their jobs. Included were experienced work

motivation, job involvement, general job satisfaction, and satis-

faction with various specific aspects of work, such as pay and super-

vision. Work motivation items assessed both the amount of intrinsic

motivation experienced by workers and focus of that motivation. Three

foci of the internal pressure to perform work were considered:

(a) pressure to evaluate one's own work; to monitor it,

(b) pressure to produce high quality work, and

(e) pressure to yield a high quantity of work.

Job involvement items were the three used by Lodahl and Kejner (1965);

they were intended to indicate the degree to which the employees were

personally involved in their work. The final dependent variables were

measures of performance (quality, quantity, and effectiveness) and


In summary, measures of six independent variables were developed.

They included the four core characteristics: autonomy, task identity,

task variety, feedback, and two interpersonal factors: dealing with

others and friendship opportunities. Employee reactions to the job

were assessed in the following areas: experienced work motivation,

job involvement, general job satisfaction, specific job satisfaction,

absenteeism, and performance with respect to quality, quantity, and

effectiveness. A measure of employees' desire for higher order need

satisfaction was also included.

The resulting questionnaire was then administered to 208 em-

ployees working within 13 different jobs in a telephone company.

Supervisors of these employees were asked to respond to a similar

questionnaire which required them to describe their employees' jobs.

The researchers followed this pattern after a period of observation.

The data were then analyzed in order to answer the following research


1. The theory holds that the employees' perceptions of job

characteristics rather than objective characteristics are more

important in determining their reactions to the job. To test this

proposition, relationship between perceived task characteristics and

workers' responses to task were computed for each job, then compared

to the same relationship across all subjects and jobs. The authors

assumed that by restricting analysis to within-job data, effects of

between-job differences would be controlled and perceptual differences

would be more prominent.

2. The theory specifies that workers' reactions to the job

should be most positive when all four core conditions are present.

To test this assumption, dependent variable values were compared

(a) for the employees who saw their jobs as moderately high on

all four, (b) for those whose jobs were described as high on some

conditions and low on others, (c) for those who perceived their work

as low on all four conditions.

3. The theory suggests that the strength of individual desire

for higher order need satisfaction will moderate the relationship

between perceived characteristics of jobs and reactions to the jobs.

To test this concept, subjects were divided into thirds, according to

their scores on individual need strength; the highest and lowest

groups were then compared on the strength of their characteristic/

reaction relationships.

4. Relationships within interpersonal factors and dependent

variables are unspecified by the theory, so exploratory analyses were


5. As an index to degree of objectivity in employee perceptions

of task characteristics, appraisals of job characteristics which

were made independently by employees, their supervisors, and re-

searchers were compared for agreement.

Results of data analyses generally confirmed propositions of the

theory. Employee reactions/task characteristics relationships were

generally positive; in most cases it was significant, as.determined by

correlational statistics. This was expected as the mean score on

individual need strength was 6.01 out of a possible 7.00. The authors

concluded that employees generally had a high value for these higher

order needs, or they felt that it was appropriate to at least express

a desire for them. Independent variables may be subdivided into core

characteristic factors and interpersonal factors; they will be exam-

ined along these lines.

Core dimensions showed a positive relationship to employee

experience of an internal motivation to perform well. This motivation

was directed not only toward taking personal responsibility for work

but producing a high quality rather than large quantities of it. Fur-

ther, evidence indicates that jobs high on these characteristics allow

employees to gain positive feelings of self-worth when they perform


Employees working on tasks high on core dimensions showed better

attendance records, demonstrated higher general satisfaction with

work, and were more personally involved in their work. The authors

contended that core factors increased job involvement and satis-

faction, which in turn yielded fewer absences.

Specific satisfactions showed an almost unanimous positive corre-

lation with core task characteristics. Hackman and Oldham (1975) suggest

that while this was not predicted it may be explained because overall

satisfaction is likely to be strongly influenced by satisfaction with

the particular aspects of the work situation addressed by the twelve

specific satisfaction items. Specific satisfactions showing highest

correlations with core conditions were concerned with higher order

needs; those with weakest relationships may be classified as lower

order needs.

Interpersonal dimensions of work failed to show as strong a

relationship with dependent variables as do core characteristics.

"Dealing with others" showed no significant positive relationship to

motivation, performance, or absenteeism; "friendship opportunities"

related only to quality aspects of performance at a significant level.

The latter showed significant correlations with all specific

satisfactions; both correlated significantly with general job satis-

faction. Specific areas of satisfaction most highly related to inter-

personal factors deal with interpersonal issues, which the authors

interpret to mean that the kinds of consequences to be expected from

designing jobs with interpersonal characteristics in mind are pre-

dominantly social. They are not associated with increased motivation

or productivity.

Another proposition of the theory in question was that objective

characteristics of a job influence worker perceptions of the job

which, in turn, influence worker reactions to the job. Data implied

that employee perceptions of jobs did not differ substantially from

descriptions offered by supervisors and researchers. If the latter

assessments are considered to be the more objective, the conclusion is

that employee perceptions are indeed influenced by objective charac-

teristics of the task. The next question then is: are the employee

reactions to the job the direct result of job characteristics, or do

individual perceptual processes moderate the relationship? By compar-

ing the median correlation of within-job relationships with corre-

lations computed across all subjects, the researchers were able to

establish that perceptual differences did influence the relationship.

Data were also analyzed to determine optimum relationships among

core characteristics which would produce the most positive reactions

to work. Subjects were divided into three groups (jobs high on all

four characteristics vs. high on some vs. low on all four). When their

dependent measures were compared, data indicated reactions to their

jobs were significantly higher when all four core conditions were high.

When the relative merit of the three methods of combining task

characteristic data were compared, however, the multiplicative dis-

junctive model specified by the theory was not found to be superior to

other theories. The two alternative models were (a) an unweighted sum

of values for each characteristic, which was then correlated with each

dependent variable, and (b) a linear, multiple regression equation in

which core conditions were independent variables used to predict each

dependent factor. In conclusion, the model defined by the theory was

not rejected; neither was it supported as being more adequate than

other models of combining core dimensions to predict employee affec-

tive responses to work.

The final theoretical assumption to be tested was the moderating

effect of higher order need strength on task characteristic/affective

reaction relationship. The assumption had been that only persons

desirous of higher order need satisfaction would respond positively to

core conditions. To answer this question, subjects were divided into

high, middle, and low groups based upon individual need strength

scores. As previously mentioned, the mean for all subjects was quite

high; the group means reflect this skewdness (high mean = 6.78; low

mean = 5.09). The mean for the bottom one-third of the subjects is

still over a point greater than the midpoint of the potential response

range. Thus, the "low" subjects are actually quite "high" in an

absolute sense. Strength of task characteristic/affective response

relationships were compared for the two extreme groups. Results

generally support the moderating effect of individual need strength.

This is particularly true for variety and autonomy; true, to a lesser

degree, for feedback. Task identity, however, showed little differ-

ence between groups. The authors explained this by pointing out that

jobs highest on task identity within this sample (telephone operator)

were lowest in autonomy and variety. To test this thesis, the authors

computed the product of the four core characteristics for each member

of the high and low groups, then correlated these values with measures

of motivation, performance, and satisfaction. There were some pairs

of correlations in which the high group had a significantly stronger

relationship than did the low group. Typically, however, most corre-

lations were positive and significant.

While the above results generally support relationships specified

by the theory, there are six issues of concern which must be criti-

cally evaluated. At the theoretical level, the authors used the

concept of job involvement in a fashion which is contrary to its

original conceptualization. Hackman and Lawler (1971) include this variable

among affective reactions to one's job. Lodahl and Kejner (1965)

conceived and operationalized the term as a value state which deter-

mines the extent to which individual self-esteem is derived from work

or non-work activities and which is independent of the nature of the

specific job on which persons are working. Further, Hackman and

Lawler imply a positive collinearity within job satisfaction, job

involvement, and attendance. However, it is clearly stated that job

involved persons are not necessarily happy with their jobs; in fact,

very angry people may be just as involved in their jobs as very happy

ones (Lodahl & Kejner, 1965).

Additional support for this line of reasoning derives from a

reinterpretation of the finding that in jobs higher on core dimensions

workers are more job involved, that they gain additional self-esteem

from their work. In most organizations, the farther up the

hierarchical ladder the job is found, the higher it is on core dimen-

sions. High job involvement is a culturally valued trait and individ-

uals who posses it tend to be promoted more readily and to leave their

jobs less often. Therefore, high job involvement may be a determinant

of the level of position held rather than the converse. This possi-

bility was not explored by Hackman and Lawler.

Inclusion of job involvement among the dependent variables must

be questioned, as its more proper position appears to be moderator of

job characteristics/self-esteem/satisfaction relationship. This is an

important factor because the enhancement of self-esteem through growth

opportunities is central to development of personal satisfaction and

the self-feeding system of motivation described by Hackman and Lawler


A second theoretical supposition which is suspect is the issue of

individual expectancies of a valued outcome following work behavior

and the role of this expectancy in the motivation of behavior. The

authors suggest that work may be so designed that feedback about one's

efforts is received. From this feedback one has a feeling of personal

responsibility for the outcomes of one's endeavors: the product

itself, intrinsic, or extrinsic personal outcomes. This supposition

is also tied with the concept of autonomy as the authors state that

highly autonomous jobs provide individuals with feelings that suc-

cesses and failures are their own; low autonomy jobs may lead workers

to feel that successes and failures are due to others' influence

rather than to one's own efforts. The authors firmly established that

individual perceptual differences do influence the relationship

between objective job characteristics and employee reactions to them.

So, it follows that the existence of a generalized task independent

individual difference in expectancy concerning reinforcement of one's

efforts might also influence this relationship, perhaps even more

pervasively than task characteristics. Such an expectancy might

distort worker perceptions of the autonomy or feedback inherent in

the task design, ultimately frustrating attempts to redesign jobs in

the absence of knowledge of job influences. Generalized expectancy

of reinforcement control of one's behavior (locus of control) does

exist, and its effects are well documented (Rotter, 1966). So,

investigation of the influence of this factor on Hackman and Lawler's

model seems worthwhile.

A third theoretical proposition which might be re-evaluated is

the conceptualization of individual higher order need strength and the

nature of its suggested relationship with task characteristics and

worker affective response to the task. The motivating force for

individual behavior is the magnitude of the value the person attaches

to the anticipated outcome of behavior. The value is determined by

the strength of the underlying need. According to Maslow (1970), all

humans possess five categories of needs which may be grouped into

higher order needs and lower order needs; individual need strength

(Hackman & Lawler, 1971) is a measure of the potency of higher order


The authors suggest that jobs which are high on the core dimen-

sions should be motivating only to individuals who are desirous of

the intrinsic rewards that the jobs provide, namely, higher order

need satisfactions. Further, it is stated that not all employees can

or will respond to opportunities for the satisfaction of higher order

needs, and thus motivational approaches based on the needs cannot be

applied indiscriminantly. Persons who are desirous of higher order

need satisfaction (e.g. personal growth) will respond to core charac-

teristics by producing quality performance, with high levels of

general job satisfaction and low absenteeism.

There are several objections to this proposition: First, the

concept that all persons do not desire higher order need satisfaction

is contrary not only to Maslow's theory (1970) but to several empiri-

cal personality theories and observed phenomena. According to

Maslow, an individual would necessarily be quite deprived of lower

order needs in order to completely ignore higher order needs, which

is an unusual circumstance in our affluent society. Hence, most

people should be motivated by the need for personal growth (although

perhaps not through the medium of work).

Carl Rogers supports the contention that all persons possess the

desire for satisfying higher order needs as he writes:

By this I mean the directional trend which is
evident in all organic and human life the urge
to expand, extend, develop, mature the tendency
to express and activate all the capacities of the
organism, or the self. This tendency may become
deeply buried under layer after layer of encrusted
psychological defenses; it may be hidden behind
elaborate facades which deny its existence .
(Rogers, 1961, p. 351)

Therefore, motivation to satisfy these growth directed needs is

present in all humans, but it may not be readily evident simply by

observing personal behavior.

Hackman and Lawler (following Maslow) suggest that failure to

obtain job satisfaction in the presence of higher order need satis-

fiers is evidence for absence of those needs in some individuals. The

assumption is that the presence of the need results in the valuation

of satisfying that need through a given behavior as well as the

persons' movements toward the goal of satiation. Hence the person's

need system defines individual values. Most therapists will quickly

agree that frequently peoples' values are not aligned with their

needs, that the result is often self-defeating behavior and personal

dissatisfaction. The authors suggest that the behavior pattern will

not continue unless there is satisfaction, yet the intractability of

paradoxical neurotic behavior is well-known (Maher, 1966).

Data gathered by investigators also support the need to

critically evaluate definition and role of higher order need strength

in this model. The mean score for individual need strength was 6.01,

out of a possible 7.0, with a negatively skewed dispersion (top one-

third mean = 6.78; bottom one-third mean = 5.09). The authors

accepted these values to mean that all subjects possessed a high

motivation toward personal growth. But, considering the skilled to

semi-skilled blue collar nature of their sample, they assumed that the

sample was unusual, so theoretical assumptions were not questioned.

An alternative explanation is that all humans do indeed desire higher

order need satisfaction, an alternative suggested previously in this

paper. Another alternative to which Hackman and Lawler alluded is

that responses were biased by social desirability; therefore, they

discriminated poorly among subjects along this dimension.

Difficulty in measuring the concept of higher order need

strength is evident, not only from the skewed means presented in

the study, but also in the limited differentiation along predicted

lines between groups high and low on this factor. The authors

attempted to differentiate between reactions to task characteristics

for individuals who were either high or low on this factor and who

worked on jobs which were high on all four core characteristics. Of

the 22 affective reactions to their work, 19 were significantly corre-

lated with task characteristics for the high need strength group; 10

were significantly correlated for the low need strength employees.

Furthermore, only eight of the 22 pairs of correlations showed a

significant difference in magnitude between the two groups; four of

those involved lower order needs or interpersonal relationships.

Therefore, both groups responded positively to issues to which only

the high groups should have responded; also, the high group's response

to lower order needs was apparently moderated by higher order need

strength. Clearly, there are sources of variance which moderate task

characteristic/affective reaction relationships which have not been

identified. These unidentified influences cloud the interpretation of

the hypothesized influence of desire for personal growth from job

related activities on job satisfaction. If this theory is directed

to higher order need strength persons only, then this conflict must

be resolved.

A fourth major theoretical issue is the inclusion of all of the

specific satisfaction variables among the dependent variables. The

authors state the overall satisfaction is likely to be strongly

influenced by satisfaction with the particular aspects of the work

situation addressed by the twelve specific satisfaction items. Some

of these items tap satisfaction with higher order need strength

issues; other items are associated with lower order needs. It has

been mentioned above that higher order need strength increases

employee reactions to some lower order need satisfiers (e.g. security,

friendship opportunities), that many of these reactions are signifi-

cantly correlated to task characteristics. These findings are incon-

sistent with predictions of the theory, and it is suggested that

inclusion of lower order needs within dependent variables represents

confusion over the theory's purpose. If the theory is to predict

general satisfaction with a job such that turnover may be lessened,

then a variety of factors must be considered and lower order need

satisfiers should be included, but as independent variables. If, on

the other hand, the theory is focused only on the promotion of

personal growth among employees by the redesign of jobs vis-a-vis core

dimensions, then lower order need satisfiers should be excluded from

the formula. A decision must be made.

The next major criticism of the theoretical foundation of this

study is the unipolar perspective taken on the quantification of core

dimensions. The authors assumed that if some of a core characteristic

is good, then more must be better. This is clearly not the case with

task variety, a dimension in which an excess could be aversive to

persons (see the previous discussion on Activation Theory). The

authors also failed to consider the possibility that worker responses

to one task characteristic may be dependent upon the amount of that

characteristic present, as well as the relative amounts of other

characteristics that are present; i.e. is the optimal combination

ratio of these characteristics dynamic or fixed at 1:1:1:1? Also

not considered is the possibility of a task being high on core dimen-

sions, yet possessing other characteristics which are aversive to

workers. This might be particularly true in the field of nursing.

The final issue in this study requiring re-evaluation is the

impact of interpersonal relationships at work on job satisfaction.

The authors concluded that the interpersonal dimensions of work do not

induce personal growth; therefore they show no significant relationship

to maintenance of high job satisfaction and performance. On a logical

level, this is contradictory to the concept of personal growth, for it

is difficult to conceive of any individual self-actualizing indepen-

dently of their social system. The authors state:

. the kinds of consequences to be expected
from having jobs with high interpersonal compo-
nents (as measured in this research) are primarily
social in nature-rather than being relevant to
the performance and motivation of employees as is
the case for jobs high on the core dimensions.
(Hackman & Lawler, 1971, p. 275)

Their data, however, suggest contradictions to this stance. Both

"dealing with others" and "friendship opportunities" show a positive

significant relationship with the feedback dimension. It might be

assumed that as to one's performance other people are a significant

source of feedback. The theory clearly states the need for feedback.

Friendship opportunities are also significantly related to task

variety and autonomy. For individuals who do not particular value

work per se (i.e. low job involved) the friendship dimension may

provide enough personal growth opportunities by increasing variety

in work, thus maintaining satisfaction with work setting and high

job performance. Autonomy may be a prerequisite for the freedom to

pursue friendship interests. Friendship opportunities do, indeed,

show a significant positive correlation with internal motivation to

perform high quality work. The correlation is of the same magnitude

as are those for core dimensions.

Interestingly, both of the interpersonal dimensions show

negative correlations with the actual work performance in terms of

quality, quantity, and effectiveness. Most organizations are

designed in such a way that organizational goals are concerned with

production, that social activities do interfere with production. How-

ever, these data suggest that jobs designed to encourage personal

growth through social interaction may effectively maintain high

performance and satisfaction for some employees.

Finally, it should be noted that friendship opportunities

correlate significantly and positively with all twelve specific

satisfaction items. They may even be a factor which buffers against

dissatisfaction, if other conditions are not satisfactory.

In summary, six major criticisms of this study challenge its

theoretical foundation:

1. nature and role of higher order need strength;

2. misuse of the concept of job involvement;

3. failure to account for individual difference in generalized

expectancies of the control of reinforcement;

4. use of lower order need satisfaction as a dependent variable;

5. assumption of a linear effect of core dimensions; and

6. exclusion of interpersonal relationships from a significant

role in the formulation. Future exploration of this theory had to

take into consideration some of these deficits.

An extension of the theory. After reviewing literature on job

design, Hackman and Oldham (1975) concluded that a major difficulty

with job redesign was the inability to accurately measure constructs

involved before and after changes occur. Attempting to rectify such

a weakness in the field, they began the process of developing an

adequate instrument. They based their work upon the theoretical

foundation established by Turner and Lawrence (1965) and Hackman and

Lawler (1971). Revisions in the underlying theory occurred concur-

rently with the development of the assessment device, the Job

Diagnostic Survey (JDS). The two are somewhat difficult to separate.

This section will present the modified theory established by Hackman

and Oldham. It will also examine the relationships within critical

variables which were suggested by the original theory and revised

during the development of the test instrument. Finally, the theory

will be examined vis-a-vis criticisms previously set forth by this

investigator for Hackman and Lawler's (1971)postulations.

With a few modifications the tenets of Hackman and Oldham's

theory are the same as Hackman and Lawler's. The former theorists

proposed that workers' affective responses to work are influenced by

a set of core job dimensions, that this relationship is moderated by

workers desire for satisfaction of higher order needs. In addition,

they maintain that not all workers desire higher order need

satisfaction; that those who are not so desirous may actually feel

discomfort rather than satisfaction if the job is high on core


Hackman and Oldham posit an intermediate step in the core job

dimensions/personal and work outcomes relationship which was not pre-

viously considered. This step is the development of critical psycho-

logical states in the worker which, in turn, are responsible for

development of personal and work outcomes. The authors suggest a

multiplicative disjunctive model for these concepts, in which all

core conditions must be present in high quantities in order to produce

all critical psychological states at high levels. If all critical

psychological states are present in high quantities only then will

high levels of each personal and work outcome occur (See Figure 1).

Although Hackman and Oldham retained the four core job dimensions

presented by previous research, they added task significance to their

list. Core conditions and their definitions follow:

1. Skill variety is the degree to which a job
requires a variety of different activities
in carrying out the work, which involve
the use of a number of different skills
and talents of the employee.

2. Task identity is the degree to which the
job requires completion of a "whole" and
identifiable piece of work--i.e., doing
a job from beginning to end with a
visible outcome.

3. Task significance is the degree to which
the job has a substantial impact on the
lives or work of other people--whether in
the immediate organization or in the external

4. Autonomy is the degree to which the job
provides substantial freedom, independence,
and discretion of the employee in
scheduling the work and in determining
the procedures to be used in carrying
it out.

5. Feedback from the job itself is the
degree to which carrying out the work
activities by the job results in the
employee obtaining direct and clear
information about the effectiveness
of his or her performance. (Oldham
et al., 1978, pp. 5-6)

The authors state that any job may be defined in terms of its

Motivating Potential Score (MPS) which is obtained by measuring the



Skill Variety

Task Identity

Task Significance



of the Work

for Outcomes
of the Work

Knowledge of the
>-Actual Results of
the Work Activities








the Work


Figure ]

The Relationships Among the Core Job Dimensions, the Critical
Psychological States, and On-the-job Outcomes

presence of core dimensions, then computing the MPS on the basis of

the following formula:

(S Skill /3 + Task/ Task / )
S = Vaiety Identity Significanc

X (Autonomy) X (Feedback).

The MPS is a composite score which describes the job in terms of its

ability to motivate individuals through its potential to satisfy

higher order needs. It was previously noted that a multiplicative and

disjunctive model such as this one specified that all core dimensions

must be present in high quantities in order to produce a high MPS.

Two additional job characteristics are suggested by Hackman and

Oldham as being important in understanding worker job response:

(1) feedback from agents and (2) dealing with others.

The definitions of these variables follow:

1. Feedback from agents is the degree to which the
employee receives clear information about his
or her performance from supervisors or from
co-workers. (This dimension is not, strictly
speaking, a characteristic of the job itself.
It is included to provide information to
supplement that provided by the feedback from
the job itself dimension.)

2. Dealing with others is the degree to which the
job requires the employee to work closely with
other people in carrying out the work activ-
ities (including dealing with other organi-
zation members and with external organizational
"clients."). (Oldham et al., 1978, pp. 5-6)

The relationship of these two variables to core dimensions is not

specified by Hackman and Oldham (1971) although it is suggested that they'd

provide supplementary information. Hackman and Lawler's work demon-

strated positive correlations between these characteristics and feed-

back from the job itself so it might be hypothesized that they are

related to the feedback dimension.

According to the theory the five core conditions are responsible

for the development of three critical psychological states in the

worker. These variables and their definitions follow:

a. Experienced meaningfulness of the work is the
degree to which the employee experiences the
job as one which is generally meaningful,
valuable, and worthwhile.

b. Experienced responsibility for work outcomes
is the degree to which the employee feels
personally accountable and responsible for
the results of the work he or she does.

c. Knowledge of results is the degree to which
the employee knows and understands, on a
continuous basis, how effectively he or she
is performing the job. (Oldham et al., 1978,
pp. 5-6)

According to Hackman and Oldham, experienced meaningfulness is

primarily determined by core dimensions task variety, task identity,

and task significance; autonomy influences experienced responsibility;

knowledge of results is determined by the feedback dimension. As with

core dimensions, each one of the critical psychological states must

be present in a high degree in order to produce high levels of per-

sonal and work outcomes. While these intermediate factors were not

specifically included in the Hackman and Lawler formulation of job

dimension/affective response as measurable variables with a definite

role, they were stated as necessary conditions for the process:

. to establish conditions for internal work
motivation, then, it appears that a job must:
(a) allow workers to feel personally responsible
for an identifiable and meangingful portion of
the work, (b) provide work outcomes which are
intrinsically meaningful or otherwise experienced
as worthwhile, and (c) provide feedback about
performance effectiveness. (Hackman & Lawler,
1971, pp. 262-263)

Hence, these intermediaries reflect operationalization of phe-

nomena previously alluded to by Hackman and Lawler, which is not a

radical departure from the prior theory.

Reactions to core dimensions, or work outcomes, include two

subgroups: personal outcomes and actual work outcomes. The latter

group includes absenteeism, turnover, and performance, which are self-

explanatory. Personal outcomes are defined as affective reactions to

the job. They include general satisfaction, internal work motivations,

and specific satisfactions. Definitions of these terms follow:

1. General satisfaction is an overall measure of
the degree to which the employee is satisfied
and happy with the job.

2. Internal work motivation is the degree to which
the employees are self-motivated to perform
effectively on the job--i.e., the employees
experience positive internal feelings when
working effectively on the job, and negative
internal feelings when doing poorly.

3. Specific satisfactions are positive affective
responses to each of the following job compo-

(a) job security

(b) pay and other compensation

(c) peers and co-workers ("social" satis-

(d) supervision

(e) opportunities for personal growth and
development on the job ("growth" satis-
faction). (Oldham et al., 1978, pp. 5-6)

The work outcomes component of the theory shows several deviations

from Hackman and Lawlers (1971) work. First the concept of job involvement

and many of the twenty-two specific satisfactions have either been

eliminated or grouped together. Second, Hackman and Lawler had

hypothesized that workers might experience some degree of intrinsic

work motivation from the job which could have three foci. The experi-

ence of intrinsic motivation and its foci were separated by Hackman and

Oldham, then measured independently. Only one focus was retained: the

pressure to produce quality work. Each of these changes is based on

results of the Hackman and Lawler study. They reflect a more parsi-

monious conceptualization which better coincides with the empirical

evidence. It should be noted, however, that four lower order needs

continue to be included within dependent variables which has been

criticized previously in this paper.

The final major component of the theory, growth need strength

(GNS), is defined as the extent to which the individual desires higher

order need satisfaction and will respond positively to jobs objectively

high on core conditions. This individual difference variable is pro-

posed to moderate relationships between core job dimensions and

critical psychological states, as well as between critical psycho-

logical states and personal and actual work outcomes. A visual

summary of specified relationships of this theory was presented in

Figure 1.

In summary, the theory of job satisfaction proposed by Hackman

and Oldham is quite similar to that proposed by Hackman and Lawler.

However, some factors, as determined by previous empirical data, have

either been eliminated or added. Typically, they reflect a move

toward parsimony and theoretical/empirical congruence.

Hackman and Oldham (1974, 1975) onerationalized their concepts

and developed the Job Diagnostic Survey (see Chapter III for elabora-

tion of the developmental process) which was then used to test the

theory. It was administered to 658 employees working on 62 different

jobs in seven organizations, including both service and industry

oriented businesses. Workers were heterogeneous in job level, were

59 percent male, possessed a median age of 29, and an educationally ranged

from grade school to graduate degree. In addition, supervisors and

researchers completed the Job Rating Form for each job. This instru-

ment is a parallel form of the Job Diagnostic Survey (JDS) which allows

assessment of the core conditions by persons not performing the job.

Supervisors also provided work effectiveness data for each employee;

absentee data were obtained from company records.

Generally, results of this study were as predicted. Job ratings

performed by employees, their supervisors, and researchers were corre-

lated to obtain a measure of the objectivity of the core dimensions

section of the JDS; the data typically support its objectivity. Median

correlation ranged from .46 (supervisors and observers) to .63 (em-

ployees and observers), although the category feedback from agents

ranged from .07 to -.13. These correlations are satisfactory even

though they are generally lower than those obtained by Hackman and

Lawler (1971).

Generally, relationships among the subscales are also as

expected. Core dimensions are moderately and positively intercorr-

elated. They are positively related to measures of internal work

motivation, general satisfaction, and critical psychological states.

Further, growth need strength measures were satisfactorily independent

of other variables. This is an important consideration for a

moderating variable.

Substantive validity of theory and scale is evident from the

finding that core dimensions are positively correlated with personal

work outcomes at the .01 level of significance and with measures of

absenteeism and performance at the .05 level.

Hackman and Oldham (1974, 1975) conducted further data analyses

to investigate the proposed job dimension/psychological states/work

outcomes relationship and the extent to which growth need strength

serves as a moderator. To explore the first of these issues the

authors sought the answers to three questions:

1. Are all three critical psychological states necessary to

optimally predict work outcomes?

2. Do core dimensions predict work outcomes equally as well if

critical psychological states are excluded?

3. Do specific job dimensions relate to specific critical

psychological states as suggested by the theory?

Outcome variables employed included internal work motivation, general

satisfaction, and growth satisfaction.

Results suggested that inclusion of all three psychological

states as predictors in a multiple regression equation increases the

amount of variance accounted for in prediction of affective responses
of workers to their jobs. The difference in mean R2 when only two

states were used as opposed to when all three are employed, is small

so this interpretation must be made with caution.

The answer to the second question was sought in two ways, the

first by calculating correlations between each core dimension and work

outcomes with and without subtracting partial correlations of the

psychological state specific to that core dimension. Results indicated

that controlling for partial correlation of psychological states

reduces zero-order correlations to near zero for all core dimensions,

except autonomy and feedback. Thus, three core dimensions upheld the

influence of the psychological states.

A second analysis was conducted to explore this proposed relation-

ship. Psychological states were used as predictors of work outcomes;

job dimensions were introduced as secondary predictors. Again, with

exceptions, findings generally support mediating influence of psycho-

logical states. Experienced responsibility shows negligible effect on

prediction of general satisfaction and growth satisfaction; knowledge

of results shows little influence on prediction of any of the three

independent variables.

The final question to be answered concerned the relationships

between specific core dimensions and psychological states. Results

suggest that,with the exception of autonomy, the job dimensions do

account for a moderate amount of variance in their respective psycho-

logical states. Also, regression R2's for each of the core dimensions,

except autonomy suggest that each of them contributes to this

experienced responsibility.

In summary, results generally support predicted relationships for

critical psychological states. However, mediating effects of experi-

enced responsibility and knowledge of results are called into

question; the relationship between autonomy and experienced responsi-

bility is suspect.

The theory proposes that persons high on growth need strength

(GNS) are better able to experience psychological effects of an

enriched job. Too, they are more likely to respond favorably to these

psychological effects. Hence, high GNS individuals should show

stronger relationships between core job dimensions and psychological

states, as well as between critical psychological states and work

outcomes. To examine the validity of this contention, subjects falling

into upper and lower quartiles of the GNS score were compared in

strength of the aforementioned relationships. Results supported the

moderating effect of GNS in each instance. However, the effect was

weak between psychological states and work outcomes, as well as on

the feedback-knowledge of results relationship. Also, relationships

of the psychological states with absenteeism is unaffected by GNS.

Apparently, either GNS has less influence in these spheres or other

sources of variance are unaccounted for.

The Hackman and Lawler (1971) investigation also considered the relative

ability of several models for combining job dimensions for predicting

work outcomes. Although Hackman and Oldham repeated this investi-

gation, no significant benefit of one over another was found.

Hackman and Oldham have revised concepts of job satisfaction as

set forth by Turner and Lawrence (1965) and Hackman and Lawler (1971).

They have also established empirical support for their revised model.

The proposed relationships between core job dimensions and work out-

comes were supported with the exception of absenteeism and work

performance. There was also support for the moderating effect of GNS

at each of the theory specified links, again, with the exception of

absenteeism. The authors offer a variety of possible explanations for

these negative findings: (1) inflationary influence of common

method variance, (2) data collection anomalies, and (3) greater causal

remoteness of behavioral outcomes from affective outcomes. Perhaps,

for some individuals positive affective response to work is present,

but not because of core dimensions. Thus,they feel less bound to

the job (e.g. low job involved persons with satisfying social

relations on the job). The influence of interpersonal relationships

to affective response to work was not considered by the investigators

even though such variables are included in their model and previous

data (Hackman & Lawler, 1971) suggest their relevance.

Although there is strong support for mediation of core dimension/

work outcome relationships by the psychological state factor, again,

there are exceptions. Specifically, feedback dimension and autonomy-

experienced responsibility components are problematic. The authors

suggested the need to further explore the dynamics of these relation-

ships. One line of reasoning previously mentioned by this writer is

the potential influence of a generalized expectancy of reinforcement

on this model, i.e., locus of control. Also, though dealing with

others and feedback from agents were suggested by the authors as

potentially influencing feedback, they were not considered in this


The nature and role of growth need strength has been somewhat

clarified by this study. The authors succeeded in increasing dis-

criminative power of assessment items as the mean value for GNS in

this study was 5.62, rather than 6.01 (Hackman & Lawler, 1971). There

were several groups of persons who scored quite low on the scale.

However, even with the lowest quartile of subjects signs of the

relationships between job dimensions and work outcomes were positive

and correlations were of a reasonably high magnitude. Hence, there is

not support for the contention that persons low in GNS will respond

negatively to enriched jobs or that they will fail to respond posi-

tively. They may respond less positively than those high in GNS but

they are not unaffected by enriched jobs. Neither can it be said that

GNS, alone, influences the relationship.

MPS is used as a summary score for core job dimensions. It is

calculated following a multiplicative model. This study failed to

support this model over others. In fact it demonstrated that this

model is the least predictive (although not significantly so) of the

five that were considered. Clearly, this assumption needs further


Improvement was made when job involvement was eliminated from

dependent variables, although the question of its influence on worker

self-esteem and work satisfaction remains unanswered. An outcome of

personal growth through work is heightened self-esteem and, by defi-

nition, job involvement could influence this relationship.

Criticism of including lower order need satisfiers with work

outcomes is still pertinent. When specific satisfactions were reduced

in number, only one of the five left was not related to a lower order

need. Only two of these were examined in this study: social satisfac-

tion and supervision. These two show moderate correlations with core

dimensions and psychological states, a finding which is clearly

contrary to the underlying theory of needs. The effect of including

these factors as independent variables remains to be determined.

Finally, the authors continue with the concept of a positive

linear relationship between core dimensions and work outcomes. With

skill variety this proposition is contradicted by activation theory

(Scott, 1966) which suggests a parabolic relationship. There is also

the unexplored potential influence on work outcomes of aversive

characteristics of a task.

Current research. The JDS, its theory, and the field of job

design have attracted a good deal of research in the past few years,

much of which has been reviewed by Pierce and Dunham (1976) and

Oldham, Hackman, and Stepina (1978). This section will briefly review

this literature, with particular emphasis placed upon information con-

cerned with this author's criticisms of both theory and instrument.

Most of the current research supports the tenets of Hackman and

Oldham's position. Several studies have added support to the proposal

that skill variety and autonomy are significantly related to job

satisfaction (Hackman, Oldham, Janson, & Purdy, 1974; Keller, Szilagvi,

& Holland, 1975; Stone & Porter, 1975). This point seems to require

little additional support. Beer (1968) had previously noted that in

clerical workers engaged in routine vs. complex tasks there was no

apparent difference in need satisfaction or perceived opportunity for

need satisfaction between the two groups. Beer concluded that skill

variety was not a good predictor of higher order need satisfaction.

Hill (1975) presented the same findings with groups of women working on

a repetitive task but also found an age/skill variety interaction in

which older subjects showed less boredom with repetitive tasks than did

younger subjects. This dispelled the only major criticism of the core

dimensions/satisfaction relationship.

Along this same line, Katz (1978) explored the effects longevity

in the job and within the organization had on task dimensions/work

outcomes relationships. He examined 3,500 persons in numerous hetero-

geneous jobs within four governments. The findings suggest that the

length of time an employee has been working in a particular organi-

zation and in a particular job interact with core dimensions of a

job to produce differential levels of job satisfaction. Those who are

new to both settings react most positively to task identity and quite

negatively to autonomy. Those who are "old" to the organization but

"new" to the job seem to react most positively to the feedback from job

dimension. Those who have more than 10 year's service also deviate

from relationships posited by Hackman and Oldham as they seem to develop

an indifference to task characteristics. Those who are neither new-

comers nor longtimers show relationships between job dimensions and

work outcomes as specified by the theory. Katz concludes that social

structures through which individuals order their work worlds have a

significant impact on their response to their work, that these social

systems change with altered status of longevity.

Russell and Mehrabian (1975) explored the effects of arousal level

on desire to work. They assumed that desire to work would decrease as

arousal exceeded an optimal level. They concluded that task difficulty

and pleasantness were related to maximum level of arousal individuals

would accept without losing desire to work. Easy and pleasant tasks

resulted in a higher tolerance for increased arousal before loss of

desire to work. These findings from activation theory research are

applicable to this author's logical criticism of Hackman and Oldham's

proposed linear relationship between skill variety and job satis-


Sims and Szilagvi (1975) examined the moderating effect of growth

need strength and other individual difference variables on the job

satisfaction/task design relationship among employees of a major

hospital. They found that GNS was a significant moderator in the

predicted direction, yet other variables, including locus of control,

were not influential. As a linear model was assumed for the locus

of control/job satisfaction relationship, findings leave unanswered


An experimental study by Merrens and Garrett (1975) examined the

effect of work values consistent with the protestant work ethic on

worker responses to simplified low level tasks. Findings suggest that

those endorsing protestant work ethic values produce more and devote

more time to the task than do those who do not hold such values. These

findings are contrary to results obtained by several other investi-

gators (Schuler, 1973; Susman, 1973; Wanous, 1974) yet this study was

more methodologically rigorous.

In summary, current research which has employed the Job Diagnostic

Survey or explored the underlying theory supports many of Hackman

and Oldham's propositions. However, typically it adds nothing to

support or refute criticisms suggested by this writer. One piece of

research did investigate the moderating properties of locus of control,

but a less than desirable model was used. Another study suggests the

possible influence of aversiveness of the task on work satisfaction

yet does not clearly separate this factor from the work difficulty.

Interactional relationships between core dimensions and variables such

as age and tenure have been proposed. They imply that the model of

Hackman and Oldham is misleading in its parsimony.

This author's criticisms of Hackman and Oldham's theory have

neither been supported nor refuted by current research. Thus, this

investigation will examine these previously stated theoretical con-

flicts. The remainder of this chapter briefly presents two constructs

whose potential effects on this model will be posited, locus of

control and job involvement. Finally, findings from the literature

on job satisfaction in nursing which are relevant to the Hackman and

Oldham model will be presented.

Locus of Control

Argyris (1964) has argued that individuals will experience

pleasure with success only to the extent that they perceive themselves

as being causally responsible for it. The same relationship would hold

true for failure. This statement is both a cornerstone and a weakness

for the theory underlying Hackman and Oldham's conception of job

dimension/work outcome relationships. Their assumption is that a job

not only may, but must, be designed in order to provide workers with

the sense that they are personally responsible for the outcome of their

endeavors. Such a feeling would result if the workers perceive a task

to be high on the autonomy and feedback dimensions. The consequence

is high levels of two psychological states, experienced responsibility

and knowledge of results. Empirical findings have not adequately

supported these relationships. Thus, it is a thesis of this research

that this is due to a generalized, task independent, expectancy of

reinforcement which can render workers unable to perceive and/or

respond to the task dimensions autonomy and feedback.

Rotter (1966) has identified such an individual difference phe-

nomenon which is termed locus of control. This belief system has been

defined previously in this paper. Its underlying theory and develop-

ment will now be briefly presented. Because development and refinement

of the construct parallels the same process for the measurement device,

both histories will be discussed at this time.

Development of the Scale.

An initial attempt to measure differences in expectancy of control

was conducted by Phares (1957), who used a 26-item measure which was

developed on a priori grounds. In this first attempt, some success was

attained when it was found that in skill vs. chance situations exter-

nal subjects behaved similarly. Specifically, following either success

or failure in skill situations, externals showed less tendency to

adjust their expectations for future success or failure than did

internals. Following success or failure in chance situations, external

subjects demonstrated greater shifts in expectancy of future failure

and success, respectively, than did internals. Externals clearly

demonstrated a belief that probablistic laws of chance determined

events to a greater degree than did their ability to personally affect

an outcome of a task.

Phares' scale was revised by James (Rotter, 1966) who first re-

wrote it in terms of items most successful at discrimination in Phares'

work. Then filler items were added. James hypothesized that, regard-

less of skill vs. chance conditions of the task, externals' behavior

would be in the same direction as the difference between the chance

group and the skill group for all subjects; i.e., they would behave as

if all tasks were controlled by chance. James' findings supported his

contentions as externals (defined by his scale) showed smaller incre-

ments of expectancy shifts after success or failure at the task,

generalized less from one task to another, and showed less recovery

after extinction trials. They also showed more unusual shifts in

expectancy of future success, i.e., it increased after failure and

decreased after success.

An attempt to broaden the scale, develop sub-scales, and

strengthen control for social desirability was conducted by Liverant,

Rotter, and Seeman (Rotter, 1966). They compiled one hundred forced

choice items comparing internal and external beliefs and subjected the

scale to item and factor analyses. The scale was reduced to 60 items

by considering internal consistency coefficients.

From item analysis, it was determined that proposed sub-scales,

e.g., achievement and affection, did not predict different outcomes,

that "sub-scales" intercorrelated highly. Hence, items proposed to

tap specific sub-areas were abandoned.

The scale was further reduced by eliminating items which

(a) correlated highly with the Crowne-Marlowe Social Desirability

Scale, (b) showed a non-significant relationship with other items,

(c) showed a proportional split such that one response was chosen

85 percent of the time, or (d) had a near-zero correlation with item

validity data provided by Rotter, Liverant, and Crowne (1961) and

Seeman and Evans (1962). Result was a 29-item scale (including six

filler items) which was considered to measure the subject's generalized,

situation independent, expectancy of reinforcement.

Factor analytic studies designed to test the generalization of

expectancy have produced conflicting results. This is not surprising

considering the low comparability in such studies. Rotter (1966)

reports two studies, one by Franklin in 1963, the other by himself,

which found a general factor accounting for most of the variance,

53 percent in the Franklin study, and several insignificant smaller

factors. More recent investigations have revealed two factors, one

consisting of items phrased in the first person and concerning belief

in one's own control; the other is composed of items written in the

third person which generally state that others have control (Gurin,

Gurin, Lao, & Beattie, 1969; Mirels, 1970). These factors have been

labeled personal control and control ideology, or control attribution.

The former variable seems to measure expectancy, as Rotter defined it,

while the latter is different. Personal control, however, consistently

accounts for most of the variance.

The role of expectancy of control to modes of life adjustment is

critical to this study for the generalized belief system is expected

to have widespread effects on an individual's life. There is an

expected positive relationship between internality and adjustment.

Individuals who believe in their ability to obtain rewards from their

efforts will pursue and, usually, gain success. On the other hand,

a degree of externality is necessary for adequate life adjustment for

some happenings are external to the person's control.

The extreme values in either direction are predicted to be

associated with poor life adjustment. A very high internal score would

typify individuals who place extreme demands upon themselves, some of

which are unattainable because these demands are external to their

realm of personal influence. These persons would probably experience

high levels of guilt, self-degradaton, and frustration in the face of

failure. An extreme external stance may be obtained either from some-

one for whom the score is accurate vis-a-vis their behavioral style,

or from individuals who make the statements as a naive form of

defensiveness. In the first example the externals have a passive

resigned attitude toward environmental difficulties. In the latter

case the external would protect self-esteem yet also prevent them-

selves from altering their behaviors. They fail to consider the type

of feedback they had received from their failures and/or successes.

Thus, either an extreme internal or an extreme external stance repre-

sents maladjustment; optimal adjustment reflects a degree of balance

between internality and externality. The relationship between locus

of control and adjustment appears to be curvilinear rather than

linear, a prediction several studies have supported (Rotter, 1966).

In a work situation, vis-a-vis the Hackman and Oldham model,

locus of control could have several effects. The most obvious effect

would be the influence of extreme externality within the model. It is

anticipated that this belief would interfere with the ability of the

feedback core dimension to establish knowledge of results, that the

extreme externals would not value autonomy or demonstrate high experi-

enced responsibility. Hence, these persons would demonstrate low

general. job satisfaction and, possibly, internal work motivation even

if GNS is high. These persons tend to project responsibility for

failure onto others, so it is further suggested that their specific

satisfaction with supervision will be low, that their self-esteem will

be independent of their general job satisfaction or performance level.

Extreme internals, on the other hand, will probably demonstrate

low self-esteem which is independent of job satisfaction. It might

even show heightened experienced responsibility irrespective of the

amount of autonomy present in the job. It is suggested that the

curvilinear nature of the relationship between generalized expectancy

and adjustment must be considered when examining the Hackman and

Oldham theory.

Job Involvement

Job involvement is a value orientation toward work in general

which influences the extent to which individual self-esteem is influ-

enced by work. Job involvement represents the internalization of

social values. It is independent of the particular job being per-

formed (Lodahl, 1964; Lodahl & Kejner, 1965). Job involved persons

are those for whom work is an integral portion of life and for whom

work is the primary source of self-esteem. Non-job involved persons,

on the other hand, derive the core of their self-image from non-work

sources; self-esteem is minimally influenced only by their work. Most

of their living is motivated aside from the job.

Early literature is generally supportive of the concept of job

involvement and its relationship to other variables. Wickert (1951)

determined that telephone operators who quit their jobs were less

ego involved with their work than those who remained on the job.

Other investigators (Lewis, 1944; Lewis & Franklin, 1944) have reported

that ego involvement with work results in greater attention being

given to successes and higher levels of work group involvement.

Stability of job involvement over time and its factorial inde-

pendence from factors such as satisfaction, motivation and frus-

tration are reported by Lodahl and Kejner (1965). Lodahl (1964)

suggested that social influences at work are related to high job

involvement. Rabinowitz, Hall, and Goodale (1977) report that job

involvement is related to growth need strength, Protestant Work Ethic,

and job scope. It is further suggested that there is an interpersonal

component to job involvement, that it is also a fairly stable indi-

vidual difference which might moderate job satisfaction.

Initially, job involvement was included as a dependent variable

in the Hackman and Lawler model, a position which is clearly contra-

dictory to its theoretical and empirical definitions. This study

suggests that job involvement be included as a moderating variable much

as GNS and locus of control are included. It also suggests that

persons may be high on GNS and low on job involvement, but still manage

to achieve personal growth at work through social interaction.

Job Satisfaction in Nurses

A brief but representative review of the current literature on job

satisfaction in nurses not only lends credence to the use of Hackman

and Oldham's model in evaluating the phenomenon, but to the consid-

eration of the other variables previously mentioned in this paper.

Historically, motivation for choosing nursing as a career has

changed concurrently with social norm alterations concerning work

(Cowden, 1978). Early nursing training had a religious heritage which

emphasized self-sacrifice in the service of others as well as post-

ponement of rewards for one's efforts until the afterlife. Training

was conducted in a monastic environment where rigid rules and "char-

acter building" exercises were ever-present.

Contemporary nurses neither share their predecessors' rigid

training experiences nor their attitudes toward work. Modern nurses,

having been educated in an atmosphere more accessible to a variety of

nursing and non-nursing experiences, are searching for a sense of

personal worth from both work and non-work activities. No longer are

they willing to postpone gratification of many of their needs until the

after-life. At least, self-interest is now on an equal basis with

concern for others. Thus, today's nurses are more likely to seek

social status, prestige, and other extrinsic rewards for their efforts.

This is in addition to autonomy and the meaningfulness of their work

for self and others. Because the nurses' selves have become more

differentiated, the role of job involvement as an influential indi-

vidual difference must be seriously considered. Further, the nurses'

work design must be examined in light of its potential to satisfy these

more actutely differentiated needs.

Several models or partial models for the phenomenon of job satis-

faction in nurses have been proposed which, typically and in general,

are in agreement with the Hackman and Oldham model for work. Kupst,

Schulman, and Dowding (1979) developed one such model with a factor

analytic methodology. Beliefs held by parents of pediatric patients

relative to the quality of patient care provided in a large pediatric

hospital- were factor analyzed along with employee beliefs about

relative job satisfaction. Results suggested that four factors were

important to employee work satisfaction, that where these factors were

high, the quality of patient care was also high. These factors were

(a) intrinsic satisfactions derived from work (e.g., meaningfulness and

personal growth), (b) satisfaction with institutional work-related

policies, (c) satisfaction with supervision, and (d) presence of

external satisfiers such as pay and fringe benefits.

Seybolt, Pavett, and Walker (1978) describe a model for job

satisfaction in nurses which is based on Vroom's expectancy theory

(1964); this model is similar to Hackman and Oldham's thesis. Tenets

of this model include the expectancy that a valued outcome may be

obtained, and the belief that one's own efforts may be instrumental

in attaining these goals. Since turnover and job satisfaction have

been related (March & Simon, 1958), the authors examined voluntary

turnover rates and satisfaction among 242 nurses vis-a-vis this

model. They found that high turnover rates were typical of jobs in

which instrumentality dimension was lower for both extrinsic rewards

and growth needs. Influence of a generalized expectancy was not

examined in this study so results add support only to the core job

dimensions/work outcomes relationship.

Kruger's (1971) work suggests that discrepancy between expec-

tations relative to the nature of nursing, fostered by training as

opposed to the actual task, increases the impact of unmet expectancies.

Usually nurses' utilization is not related to educational or skill

levels vis-a-vis other nurses or other health care professionals.

Discrepancies in expectations for prestige (Cowden, 1978), social

status (Godfrey, 1978a), and compensation for efforts (Brief, 1976)

relative to other health care professionals have been cited as sources

of frustration.

Although Brief (1976) offers a model for job satisfaction in

nurses he presents no empirical support. His theory suggests that

job characteristics (a la Hackman and Oldham) plus individual

differences among nurses, in terms of values and personality traits,

interact to produce job satisfaction. This model also includes

variables related to nurse's non-work life, e.g., family, as being

potentially influential.

One specific variable which has received attention as influencing

job satisfaction is the organization of the work in the ward. Three

distinct organizations have been defined:

1. the utilitarian model assigns one nurse to one task to be

applied to all patients;

2. the team approach assigns all tasks relating to a group of

patients to a team of nurses within which tasks are then assigned which

are usually rotated;

3. the primary care approach assigns a group of patients to a

single nurse who is responsible for all tasks for these patients.

The above organizational methods differ in the amount of skill

variety and autonomy that is present. According to Hackman and

Oldham's theory, these would be expected to influence work outcomes

for the nurse. Empirical data are mixed with some investigators who

support this proposition (Kelley & Lambert, 1978; Theis & Harrington,

1968), while others (e.g., Strilaeff, 1978) found no evidence for its

validity. When differences were found, positive consequences of

increasing autonomy and variety through organization of work along

team or primary care models, increased job satisfaction, decreased

turnover, and higher quality patient care were included in the pattern.

Godfrey (1978a, 1978b, 1978c) conducted a survey of the nation's

nurses in an attempt to identify causes for nursing job dissatis-

faction. Although his methodology lacked scientific rigor and offered

only simplistic descriptive results, the data base of over 17,000

nurses provides a wealth of information. The typical respondent was a

young married female working in a health care facility. The ques-

tionnaire was distributed through a popular professional journal, so

the characteristics of this sample are probably biased. Almost all of

the subjects were satisfied with nursing as a profession, but fewer

(79 percent) were pleased with their specific job. Primary satisfiers

included the opportunity to help others while performing a challenging

job; sources of dissatisfaction included inefficient staff, lack of

feedback from the supervisor, preponderance of non-care giving tasks,

and understaffing. Also mentioned was the aversive influence of some

of the nursing tasks. When asked to define the most important

characteristics of their jobs the following were given: (a) oppor-

tunity for persona] growth, (b) choice in scheduling, (c) salary,

(d) nursing administration support, and (e) adequate staffing.

The exploration of the current status of the study of job

satisfaction in nurses provides support for including the Hackman and

Oldham theory as a conceptual framework for exploration of the problem.

It also suggests the influence of individual differences such as

job involvement and locus of control, as well as the impact of job

design variables and work environment factors.

Summary of the Literature

A description of the historical antecedents of contemporary

research in job satisfaction were presented. Four major theories

of job satisfaction were reviewed and criticisms of Hackman and

Oldham's theory were delineated. Other potentially influential

factors, job involvement and locus of control, were considered;

literature on job satisfaction on nurses was explored for support in

using Hackman and Oldham's theory as a conceptual framework for the

problem, for support of this writer's criticisms of the theory, and

for additional variables of interest in this investigation.


A perennial problem for the nursing profession is the existing

high level of job turnover. Estimated rates of job turnover range from

35 to 60 percent, and suggested costs for replacing nurses who leave

their jobs approach the $2,000/nurse level (McCloskey, 1974; Tirney &

Wright, 1973). Impact of this high attrition rate goes beyond finan-

cial costs, for it is also felt in the psychosocial sphere of nurses

who leave their jobs. Three-fourths of the total number of nurses

who leave their jobs or profession do so for voluntary reasons

(Seybolt, Pavett, & Walker, 1978). A primary motivating force in their

decision to quit seems to be dissatisfaction with the work of direct

patient care nursing. Recognition of this problematic issue is not

new. Both research and intervention efforts have been directed toward

its resolution, with only modest success. This author proposes that

the failure to significantly change the amount of voluntary job turn-

over among direct patient care nurses is due to an inadequate des-

cription and formulation of the dynamics of the phenomenon. It is

toward this end that this study is directed.

The purpose of this research is to explore the work of nursing

from the framework of the Hackman and Oldham (1975) job satisfaction

model and to suggest amendments to their theory which might result in

a more complete explication of the phenomenon.

The development of the model to be used in testing this research

stems from examining literature in the areas of job satisfaction among

nurses and iob satisfaction in general. Research in the former area

suggests that factors involving both nurses and the nature of their

work are potentially significant to understanding the reason some

nurses become dissatisfied with their work.

Contemporary nurses differ radically from their early counterparts

in beliefs and values relating to work, self-esteem, and self grati-

fication (Cowden, 1978). Early nurses training was conducted in a

monastic atmosphere. It was intricately associated with religious

practices. Its trainees were steeped in the concepts of self-sacri-

fice in servicing others; in delay of gratification until the after-

life. They were cloistered from experiences which might expose them

to other possible alternative sources of self-worth. Modern nurses

manifest diversity in their education and life experiences. They are

likely to command a more highly differentiated system of beliefs and

values than their professional predecessors. Self-interest has

approached the level of concern for others. Factors which might

satisfy concerns for self might include: status, financial reward,

and personal growth, meaningfulness of work for others and self

(Godfrey, 1978a, 1978b, 1978c; Kupst et al., 1979). Modern nurses

are likely to see three potential ways of satisfying these interests:

their worklife, their non-work life, or some combination thereof. This

is in sharp contrast to the almost exclusive identification of self

with the early nurses' work situation.

As nurses' values and beliefs have changed, so have the work

dimensions to which they look for the satisfaction of their needs.

In the past, merely helping the patient was sufficient compensation

for services. Today's nurses are permitted to consider a variety of

factors which include: helping others (Kupst et al.,1979), a ward

organization (Kelley & Lambert, 1978; Strilaeff, 1978; Theis &

Harrington, 1968), pay and other remuneration (Kupst, et al.,1978;

Seybolt, et al.,1978), prestige and professional recognition (Brief,

1976; Cowden, 1978; Godfrey, 1978a; Kruger, 1971), and supervisory

relationship (Godfrey, 1978b). Some nurses may look for personal

growth through the job. Seybolt etal (1978) have suggested that the

design of the job must be such that the nurses believe that a result

of their efforts will culminate in their desired intrinsic or extrinsic


It is evident that being able to define the characteristics of

nursing which influence nurse satisfaction with the job is very

important. It is also clear that these characteristics cannot be

made without considering individual differences in values, beliefs,

and personality traits of the nurses who perform the jobs.

A major drawback to the study of job satisfaction among nurses

has been the absence of a clearly defined theoretical framework which

could serve as a foundation for beginning the exploration, or orga-

nizing and interpreting the data. Brief (1976) presented an outline

for such a theory which included both work and individual difference

variables; he suggested that such an approach was mandatory. He did

not, however, provide an empirical test for his theory; he merely

provided the theory as a suggested starting point. Therefore, this

author turned to the general literature on job satisfaction for a

theoretical foundation for this study.

Historically, there have been three trends in the exploration of

job satisfaction. The last of these trends is known as the job

enrichment approach. This approach proposes that job characteristics

may lead to personal growth in those who perform the work, if the

workers possess certain values, beliefs, or personality traits;

personal growth through work leads to job satisfaction. If task

characteristics which most effectively promote personal growth can be

identified, then jobs could be designed with these features in mind,

and job satisfaction could be maximized. Hackman and Oldham (1975) have

proposed one of the foremost theories within the job enrichment

approach. It is their theory which will be used as a foundation for

examining job satisfaction among nurses. Their model has been used

extensively to diagnose the characteristics of a multitude of jobs,

with moderate success.

Basically, Hackman and Oldham suggest that five core dimensions

of a job (skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy,

and feedback from the job itself). are the basic characteristics which

promote personal growth in workers. Job satisfaction follows when

workers achieve personal growth from their work. Relationship between

core job characteristics and job satisfaction includes an intermediate

step, the creation of three critical psychological states in the

workers. These states are experienced meaningfulness of the work,

experienced responsibility for the outcomes of the work, and knowledge

of the actual results of the work activities. Experienced meaning-

fulness is produced by variety, identity, and significance, collec-

tively, while experienced responsibility results from autonomy, and

knowledge of results is determined by feedback from the job itself.

In turn, the three psychological states collectively produce the

personal and work outcomes from working on an enriched job: internal

work motivation, quality performance, general satisfaction with the

work, and attendance/longevity.

As mentioned above, the Hackman and Oldham model also considers the

influence of worker individual difference in relation to growth need

strength. This factor is the degree to which the workers desire to

have higher order needs satisfied, i.e., achieve personal growth. It

is presumed to moderate the relationships in core job dimensions,

critical psychological states, and personal and work outcomes. These

relationships are depicted in Figure 1 and operate as follows:

1. If all core job dimensions responsible for the production of

a critical psychological state are present in a high quantity, that

psychological state will be produced in a high quantity.

2. If all three critical psychological states are present in

high quantity, the workers will experience high internal work moti-

vation, a high quality of work produced, high general satisfaction with

the work, and low absenteeism and turnover, but only if

3. The workers are high on growth need strength.

This theory has met moderate success when it is used to define

characteristics of a job which are responsible for producing personal

growth in a worker, i.e.,satisfying higher order needs. It will be

used in this fashion to define the work of nurses.

Hackman and Oldham point out, however, that their definition of

job satisfaction is incomplete. This writer suggests that this is due

to two major difficulties in their theory.

1. It is too narrow in focus. It fails to consider the possible

influence of several factors which have been reported by nurses as

being important to their satisfaction with their jobs, but which are

not related to personal growth: pay, supervision, interpersonal

relationships, organizational practices, and other lower order need


2. This theory includes several proposed relationships within the

factors (particularly with respect to the concept of individual

differences) that have alternative explanations not yet eliminated.

This study provides a more complete description of the phenomenon of

nurse job satisfaction. Although the Hackman and Oldham job enrich-

ment model of job satisfaction is used as the primary conceptual

framework for the study, additional factors and relationships are

considered within these factors in order to increase model's breadth

and predictive ability.

The remainder of this chapter includes a discussion of the

methods used in this study. The hypotheses are stated and are

followed with procedures used for selection of the sample which

includes a description of the subject pool characteristics. Next,

the assessment instruments that were used are described. Methods

of collecting data and handling scores follow. Finally, statistical

methods through which data were analyzed and hypotheses were tested

are described.


The hypotheses of this study stem from research questions pre-

sented in Chapter I. They are supported by the review of the litera-

ture presented in Chapter II, and are presented below. Each one is

preceded by a brief summary of the considerations which lead to its


Individual differences. A basic assumption of the Hackman and

Oldham model is that all persons do not possess a desire for higher

order need satisfaction, i.e, growth need strength, that differences

in individuals in this dimension can be used to explain differences

in affective responses to their jobs, i.e.,job satisfaction. Spe-

cifically, persons with high growth need strength will achieve per-

sonal growth and increased self-esteem through working on an enriched

job, i.e, one which is high on all five job core dimensions. The

outcome of personal growth and increased self-esteem is job satis-

faction. Jobs which are low in job core dimensions will not produce

job satisfaction in persons high in growth need strength. Persons low

in growth need strength will not respond favorably to jobs high in job

core dimensions. In both instances, levels of personal growth and

self-esteem in workers are low.

These relationships are based on the assumption that all persons

do not desire personal growth, yet this author has previously shown

that this tenet is contradicted by empiricists (e.g., Rogers, 1961),

theorists (e.g., Maslow, 1970), and the data of Hackman and Oldham.

In order to fully understand the relationship between job character-

istics and worker affective reactions to them, this writer proposes

that other individual differences should be considered. Two such

differences which have been suggested are job involvement and beliefs

about locus of control.

Job involvement is the degree to which individual self-esteem

derives from work. According to Hackman and Oldham, the satisfaction

of higher order needs, i.e., personal growth, through work leads to

increased self-esteem and job satisfaction. If a job is designed to

promote personal growth, then those who are not job satisfied are

not desirous of personal growth. It is suggested that all

persons desire personal growth, yet may differ as to whether or

not they seek to achieve it through work or non-work activities.

Thus, all nurses will possess high levels of growth need strength,

yet they will differ on levels of job involvement. This

difference will influence their affective work responses. If

nurses are achieving personal growth, then their level of general

life satisfaction should depend upon their level of job involve-

ment (Figure 2).

Hypothesis 1: Nurses who are low on job involvement and high

on growth need strength and general life satisfaction will have the

following characteristics: (a) high self-esteem, and (b) low

job satisfaction.

Hackman and Oldham state that the amount of autonomy

designed in a job will influence the degree to which the

workers experience responsibility for the outcomes of

their efforts. Workers who experience a high level of

responsibility for the consequence of their work'efforts

and who are also high on growth need strength will

achieve personal growth, thus, job satisfaction.

Data offered by Hackman and Oldham have failed to support this

proposed relationship. Thus, this writer suggests that this is

because of the choice of growth need strength as the individual

difference in moderating the relationship. Hackman and Oldham have





The Relationships Among the Core Job Dimensions, the Critical
Psychological States, and the Affective Response to Work for
High Job Involved Nurses

CORE JOB _____




The Relationships Among the Core Job Dimensions, the Critical
Psychological States, Non-Work Factors, and the Affective Res-
ponses to Work and Non-Work Factors for Low Job Involved Nurses

Figure 2

Influence of Job Involvement on
Work Outcomes

demonstrated that perceptual differences influence worker responses

to work. It is suggested that workers' general beliefs about

locus of control as well as autonomy in their jobs will influence

their experienced responsibility for work outcomes. Individuals

who hold to extreme beliefs in either the internal or external

direction will fail to accurately appreciate the contingent re-

lationship between their efforts and the consequences of their

efforts (Figure 3).

Hypothesis 2: Nurses with an extreme belief about locus of

control will demonstrate one of the following levels of

experienced responsibility for the outcomes of their work: (a)

very low responsibility if they are very external in their beliefs,

and (b) very high responsibility if they are very internal in their


Interpersonal influences. Relationships between the core job

dimension of feedback from the job itself and the critical psycho-

logical state of knowledge of the actual results of work activities

is not as strong as was predicted by Hackman and Oldham. This writer

suggests that interpersonal interaction is an important means in

gaining feedback about one's work performance. The Job Diagnostic

Survey measures two interpersonal dimensions of a job, feedback from

agents and dealing with others. The former is the extent of feedback

the workers receive directly from supervisors or co-workers about their

performance. Feedback from agents was intended to be used to supple-

ment information provided by feedback from the job itself, although it

has not been used for this purpose; nor do Hackman and Oldham offer an




Figure 3

The Relationships among Autonomy, Locus of Control, Experienced
Responsibility for Outcomes of the Work, and Affective Reac-
tions to the Work

explanation for the omission. Dealing with others is a measure of

the extent to which the job requires workers to interact with

other people either within or outside of the work setting. This

writer suggests that any interaction with others while engaged

in the activities of the work role will increase worker self-

awareness as workers, which would likely include self perceptions

of competency. The factor, dealing with others, would also appear

to influence knowledge of the actual results of work activities.

However, its relationship to this critical psychological state is

not specified by Hackman and Oldham (Figure 4).

Hypothesis 3: Information about the interpersonal means

of achieving feedback about one's work (feedback from agents

and/or dealing with others) plus feedback from the work itself

will better predict the nurses' knowledge of the actual results

of their work activities than will feedback from the work itself,


Lower order needs. Nurses expect the satisfaction of lower

order needs from a job. Knowledge of the extent to which the job

satisfies these needs will help to predict the degree of overall

job satisfaction. The Hackman and Oldham model considers only

the influence of higher order need satisfaction in its prediction

of general job satisfaction, although the Job Diagnostic Survey

measures the degree of satisfaction with pay, security, supervision,

and co-workers.

Hypothesis 4: Information about the degree to which a job

satisfies lower order needs will be helpful in predicting the nurses'

general satisfaction with the job.





Figure 4

Using Three Variables to Predict the Critical
Psychological State Knowledge of results

Skill variety. Hackman and Oldham assume that the greater the

quantity of skill variety that is designed into a job the greater will

be the experienced meaningfulness and general satisfaction experienced

by workers. This assumption is partially founded in the tenets of

activation theory which suggests that moderate levels of stimulation

are necessary in order to prevent boredom. It also suggests that

overstimulation will produce an unpleasant response. Nurses are some-

times required to work under conditions that are highly stressful and

aversive which might be construed as a special type of high skill

variety in the job. It is hypothesized that stress and/or aversive-

ness, as subtypes of skill variety that were not considered by the

Hackman and Oldham model, will overload workers and create dissatis-

faction rather than satisfaction. Such would be especially true if

the level of skill variety was high to begin with.

Hypothesis 5: High skill variety nursing jobs which are high

on stress and/or aversiveness will produce a low level of experienced

meaningfulness and general satisfaction.

The mathematical model. Hackman and Oldham have failed to present

evidence that their multiplicative, disjunctive model for predicting

general job satisfaction is superior to other models. This may be due

to the fact that the multiplicative model does not consider the

attenuation of the reliabilities of individual sub-scales that is

caused by the process of multiplication. In light of this difficulty

and additional variables that are considered to be of potential

importance in this study, an additive regression model is being

proposed as a means of predicting job satisfaction with more accuracy

than the original model.

Hypothesis 6: An additive, multiple regression equation, em-

ploying all of Hackman's predictors plus those factors suggested to

be influential by the testing of Hypotheses 1 5 in this study will

better predict general job satisfaction than will Hackman and Oldham's

multiplicative model.

Turnover. It has been shown that job satisfaction is related to

job turnover. It is suggested that the regression equation found to

be more successful in the testing of Hypothesis 6 will also be able to

predict the nurses' perceived propensity to leave their jobs.

Hypothesis 7: The factors which influence the nurse's levels of

job satisfaction may also be used to predict their perceived propensity

to leave their jobs.


The subject sample was drawn from the pool of nurses employed by

the Bethel Deaconess Hospital in Newton, Kansas. This facility is a

comprehensive community hospital associated with the Mennonite Church.

Employees, however, come from the general population of the area, and

they represent a variety of religious orientations. Bethel Deaconess

employs about 60 registered nurses (RN) and 25 licensed practical

nurses (LPN) of which 45 and 20, respectively, work in direct patient

care positions. This institution has a history of moderate nurse

turnover; poor results have followed intervention attempts. Both of

these facts are expressed concerns of the hospital and nursing admin-


All female nurses (RN and LPN) performing direct patient care

nursing were asked to participate in the study. Male nurses were

excluded because their number was too minimal to allow statistical

investigation of the influence of gender in relation to the phenomena

in question. Participation included completing the assessment packet

which was composed of instruments described later in this chapter.

The packets were distributed by this investigator to the nurses

working on each of the work units in the hospital during the meetings

which occur during the change of shift procedure. The purpose of the

study was explained and questions were answered. The nurses were

asked to identify themselves by their hospital employee number. It

was made clear that this information was strictly voluntary. Each

subject was given an envelope in which she could return her completed

questionnaire. No identifying information was placed on the envelope.

Later, the sealed envelopes were collected by the head nurse for each

work unit. The head nurse marked the nurse's name on the unit roster

as having returned the completed questionnaire or as having declined

to participate in the study. This procedure allowed the head nurse to

monitor the return and to prompt those who were somewhat slow without

violating the confidentiality of the subject's responses to the

questionnaires. All of the sealed envelopes were sent to the Director

of Nursing who passed them on to the investigator. The confidentiality

of the subjects was protected in this step in the procedure because the

investigator did not have access to the list which identifies hospital

employees by their employee number.

Fifty questionnaires were submitted to 34 RN's and 16 LP':'s, of

which 36 (72') were returned. Ten of these questionnaires were incom-

pletely or inaccurately filled out. The investigator was able to

identify' six of these subjects with their work units and employee

numbers but not with their names. Each incomplete portion of each

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