El diseño del trabajo y sus consecuencias sobre la satisfacción laboral y el desempeño

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Publication date
2021
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30-07-2021
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Abstract
The global change from production systems towards knowledge and service economies has significantly altered the nature of work in organizations (Parker, 2014). Theory and research of work design are undergoing a transformation to respond to these important changes. A research question in this field is to gain understanding on how these work changes affect work-related outcomes. The contemporary model of work characteristics with its measurement instrument The Work Design Questionnaire (WDQ) exemplify this transformation and brings us closer to the reality of current organizations (Morgeson & Humphrey, 2006). This instrument includes 21 work characteristics grouped into four general categories: task characteristics (represent the nature of the tasks associated to a specific job; e.g., autonomy, task significance, feedback from job), knowledge characteristics (represent the demands and skills that people require to perform their work; e.g., information processing, skill variety), social characteristics (represent the social interactions of workers in organizations; e.g., social support, feedback from others), and contextual characteristics (represent the physical and material conditions of the workplace; e.g., physical demands, work conditions). The scientific community demands to invigorate the work design research with a more complete assessment of work characteristics including the cognitive, social, and physical aspects of work beyond the traditional task characteristics. Similar calls have been made to measuring work design outcomes over longer periods, to test theory about temporal processes with enough measurement waves. Advancing the field also requires expanding research on the mechanisms that link work characteristics to work outcomes and to recognize different moderators (Humphrey et al., 2007; Parker et al., 2017). In this context, this thesis aims to investigate the effects of work design on job satisfaction and job performance, also analyzing possible moderating and mediating variables in these relationships. After reviewing the literature and recent research on work design, this thesis sets three research objectives addressed through three empirical studies, which are described below. Data were obtained in a three-wave data collection through questionnaires including measurements of work characteristics, job satisfaction, performance, organizational justice, and socio-demographic questions. The initial sample was composed of 653 employees working for 27 Spanish organizations. The first specific objective is to develop and validate a short version of the Work Design Questionnaire (WDQ-S). Research in work design is tightly linked to application, therefore the development of valid and reliable measures of work characteristics is of great relevance. The WDQ is the most complete work characteristics measure (Bayona et al., 2015). However, its length makes it difficult to apply in organizations and to measure it in multivariate research. Study 1 provides a valid and reliable short version of the work design questionnaire. It considers traditional work characteristics (task characteristics), but also the knowledge, social, and contextual characteristics. Additionally, we test a second-order structure which provides both a global and a specific perspective on dimensions of work design. This questionnaire assesses nine work characteristics using 27 items. The WDQ-S is available to researchers and professionals from Spanish-speaking countries. The second specific objective is to investigate the causal relationship between work characteristics and job satisfaction, together with the moderating role of organizational justice (distributive, procedural, and interactional). Some authors consider that the context of (in)justice has an important role in job satisfaction (Colquitt et al., 2001; Williams et al., 2006). Others have analyzed the moderating role of justice to understand the extent of the relationships between the organizational context and individual outcomes (Harris et al., 2007). However, to our knowledge, there are no studies analyzing the moderating role of justice in the relationship between job characteristics and job satisfaction. Based on the fairness heuristic theory (Lind, 2001), study 2 addresses the moderating role of justice in this relationship in an exploratory manner given the absence of prior research. The results show empirical evidence about the predictive role of work characteristics (task and social characteristics) and distributive justice on employee’s job satisfaction. In addition, the results supported a weak but significant moderating role of justice in this relationship. In particular, interactional justice enhanced the relationship between task characteristics and job satisfaction. Finally, the third specific objective is to analyze the causal relationship between work characteristics and organizational citizenship behaviors, together with the potential mediating role of job satisfaction. Building on social exchange theory and the happy-productive worker thesis, study 3 provides empirical evidence about work design as beneficial for job satisfaction over time and, in turn, for promoting employee organizational citizenship behaviors. Specifically, the results show that autonomy and social support are related to organizational citizenship behaviors through job satisfaction. Further, information processing directly affects organizational citizenship behaviors and also, indirectly through job satisfaction. These results support the mediating role of job satisfaction in the relationship between work characteristics and organizational citizenship behaviors. Overall, this doctoral thesis contributes to the contemporary work design literature in three ways. First, by providing a valid and reliable short version of the Work Design Questionnaire in Spanish which showed adequate psychometric properties and provided empirical support to the second-order hierarchical structure of Work Design in four general categories of work characteristics (task, knowledge, social, and contextual). Second, it provided additional evidence on the time-lagged relationship between work characteristics, organizational justice, job satisfaction, and performance. Third, it expanded our knowledge on the direct and indirect influence of different types of work characteristics on organizational citizenship behaviors over time, and the mediating role of job satisfaction. In conclusion, it contributes to a better understanding of the relevance of work characteristics in the current world of work, and the need to consider knowledge and social work characteristics in work design and in studies on their impact on work outcomes.
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