From - Fri Nov 07 18:33:25 1997

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.Summary of HackmanU Oldham: Motivation through the design of work

Ben Dattner Hackman & Oldham (1975). Motivation through the design of work: Test of a theory. 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 (ie: 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. The model 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 feedback. 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.