Benjamin Datner's summary of   Job Characteristics Model

Hackman, J. R., & Oldham, G.R. (1976) Motivation through the design of work: Test of a theory.  Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 16 250-279

Hackman, J. R., & Oldham, G.R. (1975)  Development of the job diagnostic survey.  Journal of Applied Psychology , 60, 159-170

This is one of the most prominent models in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.  The authors begin with a discussion of earlier theories that have influenced work redesign, such as Herzberg s (1966) two factor model of satisfaction and motivation. This theory states that the most important determinants of satisfaction are intrinsic to the work itself (motivators such as achievement and personal growth) while determinants of dissatisfaction are extrinsic to the work itself (hygiene factors such as working conditions and company policies). However, Herzberg's two factor model ignores individual differences, doesn't specify how the two factors can be measured, and is not well supported empirically.

The authors cite Activation theory as another important influence on thinking about work motivation. However, there are two problems with applying this theory:  There are not adequate measures for work activation, and the theory doesn't  account for changing levels of stimulation (i.e., getting accustomed to a job).  The authors also cite Socio-technical systems theory as relevant to work redesign. This theory states that both technical and social aspects of work must be kept in mind. However, it doesn't make specific prescriptions about how to redesign work.  Hackman & Oldham's model is rooted in the Interactive approach between jobs and individual differences.

The model specifies the conditions which will lead people to be intrinsically motivated to do their work.  It specifies a path between core job dimensions, through psychological states, to personal and work outcomes. The individual difference variable of "growth need strength" moderates the relationship between job dimensions and psychological states, and between psychological states and work.

The core job dimensions are:
Skill variety,
Task identity,
Task significance,
Autonomy, and

The critical psychological states are experienced:

meaningfulness of work,
experienced responsibility for outcomes, and
knowledge of the actual results of the work activities.

Personal and work outcomes are: high internal work motivation, high quality work performance, high satisfaction with the work, and low absenteeism and turnover.

Hackman & Oldham tested their model on 658 employees in 62 jobs in 7 organizations.  Their model was generally supported. Exceptions were that results were weak for the feedback dimension, and the link between autonomy and experienced responsibility did not operate as specified.  The job dimensions have practical implications for the redesign of jobs.  The limitations of the model are:  It does not address interpersonal, technical or situational moderators of how people react to their work. This may be problematic because Oldham found that interpersonal relationships were a critical moderator between job characteristics and internal motivation.  It applies only to jobs that are carried out independently, and cannot be directly used to design work to be conducted by teams, although it may be of some use.