Texas Tech University

Management Research Provides Insight Into Job Design

Darla Vasquez

November 11, 2016


As the Trinity Professor of Management, Yitzhak Fried positively contributes to the Rawls College's strategic research initiatives. With a background in organizational behavior and human resource management, Fried is able to provide insight on real-world business to students interested in management. Additionally, he used that experience - along with Greg Oldham's - to publish a  paper that addresses current practices in job and organizational design. Learn what Fried has to say about their findings in the brief Q&A below.

About the Paper

The article "Job design research and theory: Past, present, and future," by Greg Oldham and I was recently published in a special issue of the premier journal, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (OBHDP). This issue celebrated 50 years of the journal's important contributions to research in the areas of organizational behavior and decision making. The article reviews and critiques research and theory on the design of jobs in organizations, and offers directions for future research. Initially, the paper summarizes some of the earliest work in the area and then moves to a discussion of several subsequent approaches to job design that have attempted to address the shortcomings of that earlier work. A discussion evolves around several streams of contemporary research that have expanded the scope or deepened our understanding of job design. Ultimately, Greg and I use those facts and support to discuss future directions for research, with an emphasis on job crafting, the effects of new work arrangements on the design of jobs, generational differences and reactions to job design, cultural differences in job design, and the impact of job design on organizational structures and employees' personal characteristics.

What encouraged you to write this paper?


Throughout my academic career I have been interested in job design, specifically investigating how job characteristics such as autonomy, task significance, and job feedback affect employees' psychological (e.g., job satisfaction), behavioral (e.g., work performance), and physiological (e.g., blood pressure, obesity) outcomes, and the individual and contextual variables that weaken or strengthen the effects of job characteristics.  During the past few decades, the area of job design has attracted a great deal of attention on the part of both scholars and practitioners.  This is because the structure and characteristics of jobs can have powerful effects on employee reactions at work.  This is a challenging area because research findings have not always been consistent, and the role of job characteristics in the rapidly changing global work environment has not been fully explored or understood.  This is the key reason why Greg Oldham and I were motivated to write this paper: to systematically review and understand what we know so far in the area of job design and - on the basis of current knowledge in the field - to propose directions that future research should pursue.

How do the findings and conclusions of your study apply to real-world business?

The findings and conclusions of our study are highly relevant to the different contexts that exist in real world-business. For example, our findings suggest that individuals who belong to Generation Y may respond less positively to motivational job characteristics than those from earlier generations.  Thus, enriching jobs by using formal job restructuring methods may have fewer benefits for Generation Y employees than for individuals from Generation X or Baby Boomers.  Another example refers to teamwork.  Our findings provide useful information about specific circumstances under which autonomous teams have positive effects.  More specifically, autonomous groups are most effective when the team task is interdependent; individual members have little autonomy; team members are not isolated from external influences; and when organizational reward, feedback, and information systems are generally ineffective.  This suggests that work redesign that increases teams' autonomy are most effective when other supportive management systems are absent.

This supports the efforts outlined in the Rawls College of Business Strategic Plan. Learn more about the LEADER 2020 Strategic Plan and follow our progress on Twitter at #RawlsLeads.