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job satisfaction theories

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									CHAPTER 5



By the end of the chapter you will be able to:

Π  Describe content theories of motivation;
Π  Describe process theories of motivation;
Π  Understand the differences between content and process approaches;
Π  Describe the effect of knowledge of results and goal setting on motivation;
Π  Define the concept of job satisfaction;
Œ   Describe ways of assessing an individual’s affective response to work;
Π  Describe the job characteristics and variance models of job satisfaction;
Π  Detail the characteristics most commonly associated with job satisfaction;
Π  Understand what is known of the relationship between job satisfaction and other variables
    such as gender, personality, class and age;
Π  Describe the relationship, as far as it is understood between job and general life
Π  Describe the predictive value of job satisfaction and objective workplace variables such
    as absenteeism, turnover and productivity.


Π  Introduction
Π  Content theories
Π  Process theories
Π  Knowledge of results and goal Рsetting
Π  Job satisfaction and well Рbeing
Π  What is job satisfaction?
Π  Global and facet satisfaction
Π  Theories of job satisfaction
Π  Variance theory
Π  Job characteristics
Π  Correlates of job satisfaction
Π  Gender, Age, Personality, Social class
Π  Job and life satisfaction
Π  Behavioural correlates of job satisfaction
Π  Job satisfaction and productivity
Π  Conclusion


Though relatively full employment is no longer a feature of the labour market,
because of its practical implications interest in motivation and job satisfaction has
persisted. This chapter aims to examine research that has sought to identify the
conditions that create a motivated and satisfied workforce.


Point 1 – Introduction

This sets the context for the lecture and begins with the two categories of motivation theories.
Motivational theories can be divided into two categories, content and process theories.

        Content theories assume that all individuals possess the same set of needs and
        therefore prescribe the characteristics that ought to be present in jobs.

        Process theories stress the difference in people’s needs and focus on the cognitive
        processes that create these differences.

Point 2 – Content theories

Maslow (1954) outlined the most influential of content theories. He suggested a hierarchy of
needs up which progress. Once individuals have satisfied one need in the hierarchy, it ceases
to motivate their behaviour and they are motivated by the need at the next level up the

1. Physiological needs such as hunger and thirst are the first level on the hierarchy.
2. Security needs such as shelter and protection are the next level.
3. Social needs such as need for satisfactory and supportive relationships are the next level.
4. From these needs, the individual can move up the hierarchy to higher order needs. Self –
   esteem needs for recognition and a belief in oneself is the next level.
5. Finally, the progression leads to the need to realize one’s full potential, which is termed
   self – actualization. Only a small proportion of the population achieves this level.

This theory was not intended as an explanation of motivation in the workplace;
however, many managerial theorists have enthusiastically adopted it. The theory
suggests that employees will always tend to want more from their employers. When
they have satisfied their subsistence needs, they strive to fulfil security needs. When
jobs are secure they will seek ways of satisfying social needs and if successful will
seek the means to the ultimate end of self – actualization.

Alderfer (1972) suggests that individual needs can be divided into three groups:

1. Existence needs, which include nutritional and material requirements (at work this would
   include pay and conditions.)
2. Relatedness needs, which are met through relationships with family and friends and at
   work with colleagues.
3. Growth needs, which reflect a desire for personal psychological developments.

Alderfer’s theory differs from Maslow in a number of important respects.

        Alderfer argued that it was better to think in terms of a continuum rather than
        a hierarchy; from concrete existence needs to least concrete growth needs
        and argued that you could move along this in either direction.

        Maslow argued that when satisfied a need becomes less important to an individual,
        but Alderfer argues that relatedness or growth needs become more important when
        satisfied. This means that team - working arrangements can continue to motivate
        employees and are not necessarily superseded by growth needs.
Mumford (1976) argues that workers have:

1.   Knowledge needs, work that utilizes their knowledge and skills.
2.   Psychological needs, such as recognition, responsibility, status and advancement.
3.   Task needs, which include the need for meaningful work and some degree of autonomy.
4.   Moral needs, to be treated in the way that employers would themselves wish to be treated.

Mumford’s assumption was that employees did not simply see their job as a means to an end
by had needs which related to the nature of their work.

Hertzberg (1959) presented a two – factor theory, which looks at motivators and hygienes
and proposed that job satisfaction and dissatisfaction appeared to be caused by two sets of
different factors. The presence of motivators in the workplace caused enduring states of
motivation in employees but their absence did not lead to dissatisfaction. Hygiene on the
other hand produced an acceptable working environment but did not increase satisfaction –
their absence did however cause job dissatisfaction.

         Motivators                              Hygienes
         Responsibility                          Supervision
         Recognition                             Salary
         Promotion                               Work environment
         Achievement                             Company policies
         Intrinsic aspects of the job            Relationship with colleagues

This theory suggests how people’s jobs can be redesigned to incorporate more motivators.

Point 3 – Process theories

What all process theories have in common is an emphasis on the cognitive
processes in determining his or her level of motivation.

Equity theory assumes that one important cognitive process involves people looking around
and observing what effort other people are putting into their work and what rewards follow
them. This social comparison process is driven by our concern for fairness and equity.
Research by Adams (1965) and others confirms equity theory as one of the most useful
frameworks for understanding work motivation.

Valence, instrumentality and expectancy (VIE) theory had resulted from Vroom’s (1964)
work into motivation. His argument was that crucial to motivation at work was the
perception of a link between effort and reward. Perceiving this link could be thought of as a
process in which individuals calculated first whether there was a connection between effort
and reward and then the probability (valences) would follow from high performance
(instrumentality.) The motivational force of a job can therefore be calculated if the
expectancy, instrumentality and valence values are known. The individual’s abilities, traits,
role perceptions and opportunities attenuate the motivational force.

The main contribution of both types of process theory has been to highlight the effects of
cognitive and perceptual processes on objective work conditions. It suggests that managers
need to pay attention to four main aspects of their subordinate’s perceptions:

1.   Focus on the crucial expectancy values (the link between effort and their performance.)
2.   Managers should determine what outcome employee values.
3.   They need to link the reward that subordinates value to their performance.
4.   Managers need to ensure that wage rates are not perceived as inequitable.
Point 4 – Knowledge of results and goal – setting

Despite a wealth of research highlighting the positive motivational benefits of knowledge of
results many organizations still provide employees with little or no information about their
performance. Although feedback can have considerable impact on both motivation and
learning, implementing feedback systems can have wider implications. Feedback can affect
the relationship between employees and managers by disrupting existing authority structures.

Guirdham (1995) suggests for feedback to be effective it needs to be:

1.   Generally positive – reward is more effective than punishment.
2.   Well timed – as soon as possible.
3.   Control – the feedback should be about behaviour the individual has control over.
4.   Specific feedback and not general.
5.   Publicly observed and not based on revelations or secrets.
6.   Sensitive so that it does not trigger the individuals defence mechanisms.

Locke (1968) offers the theory of goal – setting as a means of motivation. Here goals direct
effort and provide guidelines for deciding how much effort to put into each activity when
there are multiple goals. Participation in goal – setting increases the individual's sense of
control and fairness in the process.
Point 5 – Job satisfaction and well – being

If people claim to be satisfied with their jobs what do they mean? It is more than a simple
pleasure – displeasure response (Warr, 1998) and seeing it as a more complex process
enhances the sophistication and quality of research.

Daniels et al (1997) identify five affective factors of job satisfaction; anxiety – comfort,
depression – pleasure, positive affect, kindness and anger, which they claim can capture better
the subtleties of emotional experience at work.

Point 6 – Theories of job satisfaction

The chapter presents two theories of job satisfaction, variance theory and the model of job
characteristics. Variance theory is based on a simple subjective idea: if you want x from your
work then you are satisfied to the extent that it provides you with x. The major problem with
this theory is defining what people want from their work. The job characteristic model
suggests the causes of job satisfaction are objective characteristics.

Hackman and Oldham (1975) suggested that jobs differ in the extent to which they involve
five core dimensions:

1.   Skill variety.
2.   Task identity.
3.   Task significance.
4.   Autonomy.
5.   Task feedback.

They suggest that if jobs are designed in a way that increases the presence of these
core characteristics three critical psychological states can occur in employees:

1. Experienced meaningfulness of work.
2. Experienced responsibility for work outcomes.
3. Knowledge of results of work activities.

According to Hackman and Oldham, when these critical psychological states are experienced,
work motivation and job satisfaction will be high.

Point 7 – Correlates of job satisfaction

As well as the theories above, there have also been attempts to establish whether
specific variables such as gender, age, personality or occupational status are
predictive of job satisfaction. Despite the findings presented in chapter 18 regarding
gender and employment, women report similar levels of job satisfaction to men.
However, there is evidence that job characteristics have a different impact on men
and women. There is growing evidence that there is a relationship between age and
job satisfaction but not linear one. Age itself rather than the variables associated with
it have a direct impact on job satisfaction. Variables such as socio – economic status
may also cause different groups of workers to construct different meanings as to
what constitutes a satisfactory job.

Point 8 – Behavioural correlates of job satisfaction

The behavioural correlates of job satisfaction should be higher work performance,
lower absenteeism and lower staff turnover. However, research has failed to
establish a strong direct link between job satisfaction and workplace behaviour. Job
satisfaction and performance are relatively independent of each other. This is
explained firstly that in many jobs variations in satisfaction cannot lead to variations
in productivity (machine work) and secondly where correlations do occur they may be
spurious in that both may be associated with other factors.


The centrality of work in modern economies has made an understanding of the
psychology of motivation and job satisfaction a key component of business and
management education syllabuses. It now suffers to some extent from being taught
as if it were true rather than as a set of sophisticated and problematic speculations
about the nature of human motivations. However, there is a gap between the ideal of
people who are motivated and the real nature of work - this gap is the substance for
the latter half of the book.


1. What motivates you? Which of the theories best suits you? Could you develop
   your own theory of motivation?

2. In relation to content theories, the current level of job insecurity in the UK
   indicates that individual’s may have difficulty in fulfilling lower order deficiency
   needs. It can be argued that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs should be turned on its
   head and that organizations should be looking to fulfil higher – order needs rather
   than deficiency needs. Discuss.

3. Think about any area of work you engage in, from academic work to employed
   work. Why is it that you feel motivated to complete some tasks and not others?
   How could you use this information to improve your performance in these tasks?

4. How realistic is it for managers / employers to apply theories of motivation and
   job satisfaction to the workplace?

5. What impact can management style and organizational policy have on the
   motivation levels of employees? Consider both content and process theories in
   your answer.

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