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Hackman & Oldham (1976)

This article describes the first of three models for job design. They all share the concept of autonomy. This one is the job characteristics model of Hackman & Oldham (1976).

Job Design Model developed my Hackman

Traditionally, autonomy is one of the key concepts in job design. This concept was conceived because due to Taylorism and Fordism many workers felt alienated working at the assembly line. Hackman and Oldham in 1976 found that job autonomy together with other job dimensions like feedback and skill variety, task identity and task significance were beneficial to fight alienation and achieve motivation and satisfaction.

Job autonomy means the degree of control you have over (1) your tasks, (2) the order in which you do the different tasks in your job, (3) the methods you may choose. It means, having autonomy results in an experienced sense of responsibility you have within your job and the outcomes of your job.

Three other job characteristics are skill variety (the range of abilities and skills needed to perform a specific job), task identity (the degree to which the job requires the jobholders to identify and complete a workpiece with a visible outcome) and task significance (the degree to which the job affects other people’s lives, both in the immediate organization or in the external environment). These three job characteristics lead toward meaningfulness. Employees feel more meaningfulness in a job that require several different skills and abilities than when the jobs are elementary and routine and. Next, they feel more meaningfulness in jobs that substantially improves either psychological or physical well-being of others than a job that has limited effect on anyone else. Lastly, employees experience more meaningfulness in a job when they are involved in the entire process rather than just being responsible for a part of the work.

However, it is not always and for everyone good to have these job characteristics: it depends on your skills and especially on your growth need strength. For people with a low growth need, adding autonomy will not lead to better outcomes.

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This article is from the free online course:

The Future of Human Resource Management (HRM)

University of Twente