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Review of Related Literature – Job Design and Organizational Resilience of Pharmaceutical Firms; Using Port Harcourt as a Case Study

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

Studies on Job Designs have largely been based on Oldham’s Job Characteristics Model and Herzberg’s Two Factor Theory. However, given that the study seeks to take organizations as systems characterized by interdependencies of variables, the study will be anchored on the tenets of Hackman and Oldham’s 1976 Job Characteristics Model.

JOB CHARACTERISTICS MODEL

The model was created by Hackman and Oldham in 1976 and it focused on five structural characteristics of jobs. These structural characteristics were task variety, autonomy, feedback, significance and identity. Hackman and Lawler, 1971; Hackman and Oldham, 1980 argued that these can enhance among others, work motivation, job satisfaction, and task performance. Hackman & Oldham (1976) defined job characteristics as a set of environmental variables that are considered to be important causes of employees‟ affection and behaviour. These variables include activities required in carrying out the work, completion of identifiable piece of work, substantial impacts of the job, independence in doing the job, and also information about the performance. There have been many studies discussing job characteristics and its importance in workplace (Johari, Khulida, Che, Daratul, & Omar, 2011).

In its initial days, scholars had a reservation on a number of its aspects. For example, there were concerns of weak relationships between job characteristics and performance (Aldag, Barr, & Brief, 1981) and with even more questions over the construct between nature of work perceptions and job attitudes. Simonds and Orife (1975) cast aspersions as to its validity with questions of whether only corresponding increases in pay can determine preference for job enrichment. The 1980‟s hence were largely characterized by research on the model (Griffin, 1987). To cite a specific interesting example of such research in this time, Fried and Ferris (1987) found that the five job characteristics were strongly related to job satisfaction and internal work motivation but established a weak relationship of the characteristics in relation to job performance. Scholars over time improved and expanded the initial model to consider social and technological developments in the workplace.

As such, researchers now appreciate that jobs contrast not just in terms of the core task characteristics described by the Job Characteristics Model, but also in terms of key characteristics such as task complexity, information processing, specialization, as well as in terms of physical characteristics such as physical demands, equipment use, ergonomics and work conditions (Morgeson & Campion, 2003; Morgeson & Humphrey, 2006). Basically, according to the model, an employee will have high internal motivation if three important psychological states are experienced. These, which can be seen as precursors of work place motivation are: Meaningfulness of work, Responsibility for the outcomes of the work and Knowledge of the results of the work. To achieve the three fundamental psychological states, the Job Characteristics Model advocates that the work be designed with sufficient levels of five key job characteristics. These characteristics are skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy and feedback. Of these five job characteristics, task identity, task significance and skill variety are key contributors to experienced meaningfulness of work. Hackman and Oldham (1980) contend that it would be difficult to find all three characteristics at high and critical levels in a particular job. However, they argue that higher levels of any one of them could contribute to greater experienced meaningfulness at work and thus by extension lead to job satisfaction. They argue that the fourth job characteristic in the model, i.e. autonomy, is an important contributor to experienced responsibility for work outcomes. Further, according to the model, knowledge of the results from the work can only be fulfilled if there is a feedback system between the job and the worker.

CONCEPT OF JOB DESIGN

The idea of job design was first presented by Adam smith in 1850s and was about the manufacturing of pins. With the passage of time the idea of designing the job in such a way that employees get involved in it and this involvement enhances employees as well as organizational performance got much fame and it resulted in the introduction of job design theory (Taylor, 1911). This idea expanded to a greater volume and adopted by various industrial engineers in order to have better control and efficiency at workplace. Taylor believed that managers should design a job in such a way so that workers can do it efficiently. He demonstrated that by analysing the work, the ‘One Best Way’ to do it can be found. This best way can maximize the level of performance of worker. Taylor argued that even the most basic, mindless tasks could be planned in a way that dramatically would increase productivity. According to Totterdill (2015), all jobs are designed, whether consciously or otherwise. In this sense, design is simply out. Organizations may seek to split tasks rationally among employees in manners that appear to maximize efficiency of employee performance. While some jobs are broadly and comprehensively designed, others are narrowly and half- hazard designed. Narrowly designed jobs, for example, where employees repeat a restricted number of tasks in relatively short cycles, assume high levels of product or service standardization, high levels of predictability in the business environment and high levels of employee tolerance of boring work.

Job design specifies the contents of jobs in order to satisfy work requirements and meet the personal needs of the job holder, thus increasing levels of employee engagement (Wall & Clegg, 1998). Armstrong (2014) asserted that Job Design is the process of deciding on the contents of a job in terms of its duties and responsibilities, on the methods to be used in carrying out the job, in terms of techniques, systems and procedures, and on the relationships that should exist between the job holder and his superior subordinates and colleagues. In the view of Opatha (2002), Job design is the functions of arranging task, duties and responsibilities into an organizational unit of work. Job design is the process of Work arrangement (or rearrangement) aimed at reducing or overcoming job dissatisfaction and employee alienation arising from repetitive and mechanistic tasks. The best job design is always one that meets organizational requirements for high performance, offers a good fit with individual skills and needs, and provides opportunities for job satisfaction (Schermerhorn, Hunt, & Osborn, 2005). Job design by scientific management or job simplification standardizes work and employs people in clearly defined and specialized tasks. Although job analysis, is important for an understanding of existing jobs, organizations also must plan for new jobs and periodically consider whether they should revise existing jobs. When an organization is expanding, supervisors and human resource professionals must help plan for new or growing work units. When an organization is trying to improve quality or efficiency, a review of work units and processes may require a fresh look at how jobs are designed.

SKILL VARIETY

In the view of Garg & Rastogi (2006), Skill variety refers to the extent to which the job requires the employee to draw from a number of different skills and abilities as well as upon a range of knowledge. According to Benjamin (2012) the theory behind providing skill variety in job design is that it will reduce boredom, thereby increasing job satisfaction, motivation and commitment. This is likely to be true as long as the employee enjoys the skills and perceives the addition and mix of skills to be a benefit to the job. But adding a variety of skills the employee finds stressful, isn’t qualified to address, or simply adding basic duties and minimal skills without adding to the intrinsic value of the job could actually have the opposite effect and increase dissatisfaction. Involve employees in job design to have the greatest positive impact on motivation and satisfaction. Lazear (2005) equates mastering skills in various areas with being a generalist, those who master various skills can still be specialists. The mastering of various skills can result from a deliberate human capital investment strategy based on the recognition that certain skills are required for being an entrepreneur, whether one is a specialist or more of a generalist. Therefore, we propose to make a distinction between the amounts of variety in work experience (skill variety), and whether someone is more of a generalist or more of a specialist (skill balance). One can have a variety of skills but still be a specialist, which is not accounted for in Lazear’s model (Lazear, 2005). We allow for individuals to both invest in a variety of skills and still be a specialist as they mainly excel in one skill. While a specialist in Lazear’s model only invests in one of the two skills, but not in both, in reality individuals may invest in more than one skill, while they can still be mainly specialists. Lazear (2005) further argues that multi-skilled employees may have an advantage when it comes to introducing an innovation to the organization because it is easier to innovate when the entire situation can be seen (Lazear, 2005). Thus, specialists may be at a competitive disadvantage to those that have a variety of skills in particular when attempting to bring a new innovation to the organization. Those with a varied skill set are likely to be better in developing new products or services that have actual business value and therefore skill variety may help to succeed in bringing an innovation to the organization, or to commercialize a new idea.

TASK AUTONOMY

Autonomy is defined as the degree of freedom that an employee or individual has in performing his task (Amabile, 1993; Hackman & Oldham, 1976). Research that is more recent suggests that autonomy is about the degree to which a person’s job allows for freedom, discretion and independence to choose his working methods, to schedule his work and to make decisions (Morgeson & Humphrey, 2006). This latest definition includes three connected forms of autonomy as it covers autonomy in work scheduling, autonomy in decision-making and autonomy in work methods.

Autonomy is the degree to which the job provides substantial freedom, independence, and discretion to the individual in scheduling the work and in determining the procedures to be used in carrying it out. Autonomy plays a role in firm-level creative capital, because autonomy is intrinsically motivating for employees. Intrinsically motivating work enhances the creativity of employees. Autonomy facilitates creativity and thereby plays a role in creative capital. Thus, organizations who design jobs in such a manner that employees experience freedom affect creative capital through the dimension creativity. Researches support this notion. First, research by Beugelsdijk (2008) with a sample of Dutch firm’s presents that task autonomy relates positively to both incremental- and radical innovation, as measured by the share of new products in total sales. In the same research of Beugelsdijk (2008) it becomes clear that flexible working hours as part of job autonomy positively relate to incremental innovation.

Job autonomy affects individual innovation through proactive behaviour. Parker, Williams, and Turner (2006) found in their research among production employees in United Kingdom based wire Makers Company that job autonomy affects proactive behaviour through role breadth self-efficacy and flexible role orientation and that it also directly affects proactive behaviour. Employees who engage in proactive behaviour first make an assessment about their own capabilities to engage successfully in those activities. Consequently, for organization to get this proactive behaviour they should increase employees’ perception of their capabilities. We will discuss this later on. Concerning flexible role orientation, employees show more proactive behaviour when they have long-term goals beyond their direct job and see their role more flexible. This proactive behaviour results in individual innovation as employees with proactive behaviour take initiative in the improvement of circumstances and thereby confronting the status quo (Crant, 2000).

Task autonomy also differs from participation (Langfred & Moye, 2004), which refers to a decision-making process that usually includes more than one person (e.g., an incumbent and a supervisor). The end result of participation is typically a joint decision, whereas task autonomy is an individual decision. When individuals are given task autonomy, this independence in determining the scheduling of work, how to perform work and the setting of performance goals can positively affect work behaviours. When employees are given discretion within their jobs, they are able to eliminate unnecessary tasks, discover and utilize shortcuts (Locke, Sirota, & Wolfson, 1976), which ultimately can make employees more efficient. Task autonomy has also been shown to promote high task performances (Joo, Jeung, & Yoon, 2010; Deci & Ryan, 2011), reduce absenteeism (Locke, et al., 1976), and has been related to levels of perceived competence and perceptions of control (Duncan & Pintrich, 1996). A feeling of control creates a sense of goal ownership and dedication, which consequently increases one’s commitment to reach the goal (Latham & Yukl, 1975).

TASK IDENTITY

Task identity is the overall extent to which a job is done from the start point to finish point to the extent the outcome is predicted or visible. Task identity is an important and critical element of employee performance. Here, the entire job is viewed from a holistic view and not viewed for its components. Therefore, this highlights the various levels in which employees’ performance levels are evaluated (Holmes, Perron, & O’Byrne 2006). Task identity is the when tasks are combined to form complete jobs. Employers can capitalize on employees’ interests when designing jobs. Job design provides guidelines to help get appropriate fit between employees and their job Hackman and Oldham (1975). Research attempts to identify task attributes proved that motivation was influenced by job structure (that is, it was found that it is possible to design jobs to increase motivation).

The work a person does give him his identity, and a sense of self-worth (Herriot et al 1998). This implies that a job that a person can identify himself with will give a worker a feeling of importance and thus energize him to put more effort in his work. In any organization, success is contingent on how well its employees perform. An individual performance is a function of their abilities to do the job, and their willingness to do it. Thus, organizations cannot afford to ignore the structure of the jobs. When employees are satisfied with their jobs, it will also be easy to retain them, because they will see meaning in their jobs. Hackman and Oldham (1975), proposed that people with higher order needs would respond positively to enrich jobs. Task identity is the degree to which the job requires completion of a whole and identifiable piece of work. Tasks should be combined or put together to form a new, larger module of work (job enlargement) to increase skill variety and task identity. Create natural work units. Managers should design tasks that form an identifiable and meaningful whole to increase employee “ownership” of the work and encourage employees to view their work as meaningful and important rather than as irrelevant. Task significance: the degree to which the job has a substantial impact on the lives or work of other people.

CONCEPT OF ORGANIZATIONAL RESILIENCE

Madni (2007) Defines resilience as the ability to anticipate a perturbation, to resist by adapting and to recover by restoring the pre-perturbation state as much as possible. McManus, Seville, Vargo, and Brunsdon (2008) asserts that the numerous concepts that emerge from definitions of organizational resilience include knowledge of the environment, level of preparation, anticipation of perturbations, adaptation, capacity to recover, etc. The ability of organizations to absorb shock or develop resistance in the face of perturbances within its environment is a reflection of how prepared the organization can be. Alastir (2010) contends that managers of resilient organizations should understand at board level, the environment in which their organizations operate, and be aware of changes which may represent a risk to their people, facilities, activities, services and supply chains. He maintains that managers need to understand the increasing complex cultural, political, legal, regulatory, economic, technological, natural and competitive context within which they operate and monitor key issues and trends that may impact on the objectives of the organization and the perceptions and values of external stakeholders.

The concept of organizational resilience was first used to describe the need for companies to respond to a rapidly changing business environment. Hamel and Välikangas (2003) argued that successful organizations were those who understood the dynamic nature of their business environment (competitors, technology, the availability and cost of finance, government policy, and their customers‟ needs and expectations) and who were able and willing to adapt to sudden and large changes to the environment. The aim of building resilience is to remove or reduce the exposure of organizations to threats and hazards by developing protective measures which aim to reduce the likelihood and consequences of a disruptive event, by prevention when possible, responding effectively and efficiently when an event occurs, and by recovering as quickly and completely as possible. For commercial enterprises, the need to be resilient is driven by competitive market forces because customers and shareholders expect products and services to be delivered despite disruptive events. (NIAC, 2009).

Wright (2013) defines resilience as ‘capacity to adapt’ rather than as fixed strategies because the conditions to conduct the business change due course. A suitable level of resilience in certain conditions can be adequate, but changes in operating environment or perhaps in the structure and locations of plants can call for changes to resilience strategies. The expansion of supply chains into the global context has extended the risk variety to such heights that companies can prepare for only some portion of the existing risks (Deloitte 2013). Therefore, they suggest that a solution for this vulnerability is to create resilience, which takes a proactive approach to managing the increasing exposure to threats. Resilience is an evolving concept and differs from traditional risk management (Pettit, Fiksel and Croxton, 2010) and therefore the concept is not only evolving, but its contents seem to be vague. Peck (2006) defined resilience again a year later supporting the narrower definition by explaining the term so that resilience does not even try to prevent all risks but gives companies the capability to mitigate the impacts and get back to business sooner. Traditional risk management is rarely capable of managing all risks anymore, because an increase in risks increase also unforeseeable risks that only resilience can respond. Resilience does not address to specific risks but rather specific vulnerabilities, and thus, it is the ability to prevent and recover from many kinds of events (Pettit et al. 2010). Resilience can be defined also as the capability to recover back to the same shape as before the shock. Asbjørnslett (2009) makes a difference between resilience, which is the ability to recover after the event and find a new balance, and robustness, which is the capability to resist shocks and take the same shape again.

ADAPTABILITY

Adaptability is an increasingly important skill in organizational success and performance. Adaptability has been defined as a functional change (cognitive, behavioural, and/or affective) in response to actual or correctly anticipated alterations in environmental contingencies (Nelson, et al., 2010). The ability to become more adaptable depends on two classes of individual characteristics, those that can or cannot be trained (Nelson et al., 2010). These characteristics can be divided into attributes such as cognitive ability and personality that are very hard or impossible to influence, and attributes that are easier to influence such as experience, wisdom, knowledge and motivation (Pulakos et al., 2010; Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, Jacobs, & Fleischman 2000; Cunha & Heckmann, 2007).

Therefore, some individuals will have a higher proficiency in becoming adaptable than others. The attributes which can be influenced, however enable anyone, regardless of attributes that cannot be influenced, to be trained in adaptability to some degree. There is an overlap between trained adaptability skills and the ability to be or become adaptable because of the relationship between attributes that cannot be influenced and the ability of a person to train in adaptability. Like with other skills, to become successful in adaptation one needs training and the ability to be or become adaptable.

In trying to build bounce-back capabilities, managers should build and develop the organization’s absorptive capacity, by facilitating environmental scanning in search of valuable external information which would be easily assimilated and exploited. Walker, Carpenter, Anderies, Abel, Cumming, Janssen, et al (2002) define adaptive capacity as an aspect of resilience that reflects learning, flexibility to experiment and adopt novel solutions, and the development of generalized responses to broad classes of challenges. Folke, Colding, and Berkes, (2003) as quoted in Umoh, Amah and Wokocha, (2014) identified four dimensions of adaptive capacity: Learning to live with uncertainty, Nurturing diversity for reorganization and renewal, combining different types of knowledge for learning, creating opportunities for self-organization.

Adaptability may be defined as the ability or inclination of individual or group to maintain an experimental attitude towards new situations as they occur and to act in terms of changing circumstances (McManus 2007). The ability of an organization to adapt characterizes their ability to display resilient characteristics. Amah and Baridam (2012) discussed the relevance of adaptation and concluded that the goal is to gain advantage over less adaptive competitors. This suggests that adaptive capacity is also linked to competitiveness.

Liem and Martin (2015) define adaptability in terms of cognitive (thinking), behavioural, and emotional adjustments in the face of uncertainty and change. Cognitive adjustment refers to modifications in one’s thinking to deal with new and changing demands. Behavioural adjustment refers to modifications in one’s behaviour to deal with new and changing situations and conditions. Emotional adjustment refers to changes in one’s negative or positive emotion in response to uncertainty and change. Adaptable people successfully respond to uncertainty or change by appropriately adjusting their thinking, behaviour, and emotion. Given adaptability is about adjustment in the face of change, it is possible that this is a psychological attribute highly relevant to the adjustment required to respond to environmental issues and climate change.

According to Nelson, Zaccaro, & Herman (2010), adaptability training can consist of: a) experiential variety, which is incorporating variety into practice scenarios or other training stimuli that requires trainees to change their existing performance strategy in a fundamental way such that an entirely new strategy is considered, or b) strategic information provision and frame changing guidance which is providing information in the form of feedback and guidance before, during, and after events.

Also, the environment plays a role in becoming adaptable. Pulakos, Arad and Donovan (2000) describe and measure adaptive performance as a combination of eight skills: handling work stress; handling emergencies or crisis situations; solving problems creatively; dealing with uncertain and unpredictable work situations; learning work tasks, technologies and procedures; demonstrating interpersonal adaptability; demonstrating cultural adaptability; and demonstrating physically oriented adaptability.

VULNERABILITY

Organizations in this study do have ongoing risk identification processes and have engaged in some emergency and recovery planning. “These are typically the larger organizations in terms of employee numbers and often have the backing or driving force of a parent company, or even other organizations within the industry (Lengnick-Hall & Beck, 2003). Most times when the process of planning is directed by (but not performed by) the parent company it is considered to only have partial relevance to the organization at a local level.

Vulnerabilities depict the identification coupled with proactive management, and treatment of vulnerabilities that if realized, could threaten the ability of the organization to survive. “This includes emergency and disaster management, and business continuity, and covers many of the traditional crisis planning activities. It focuses on organization participation in planning activities including risk management, business continuity and emergency management planning. It is also the way an organization has been involved in external emergency exercises or created exercises internally for staff and stakeholders” (McManus, 2007). The term vulnerability is one that has many different definitions and applications, depending on the objectives of the researchers/ practitioners and the situation within which it is applied. As such, there is considerable confusion over the use of the term vulnerability and assessing and modelling vulnerability in the real world. The concept of vulnerability originated in natural hazard research, but has since expanded considerably into other disciplines. There are many authors who have sought to summarize the thinking about vulnerability; however, this is an extremely difficult task as the literature on the topic is large. For this research, vulnerability is considered specifically as it relates to organizations and makes no attempt to provide a detailed account of vulnerability in other areas of enquiry. Good summaries are given by Klein, Nicholls, and Thomalla 2003, Villagrán De León 2006, and Füssel 2005.

A number of studies of organizational vulnerability have highlighted some of the strongest influences on post crisis survival, particularly for small businesses. The degree of structural damage to the physical location of an organization and its degree of disaster preparedness has been shown to have some influence on business survival rates Alesch, Holly, Mittler and Nagy, 2001; Chang and Falit-Baiamonte 2002.

However, much stronger indicators of organizational failure following a crisis include interruptions to infrastructure, experiencing financial difficulties prior to an event, operational difficulties, problems with interdependencies, and problems with the supply chain Alesch et al. 2001; Webb et al. 2003; Chang 2001; Chang and Falit Baiamonte 2002. The scale at which vulnerability is assessed is critical and the global and interconnected nature of organizations highlights this fact.

For example, Adger, Eakin, and Winklels 2004 state that vulnerability should not be assessed across scales because processes causing the vulnerability are different at each scale. Important also to any vulnerability research is awareness of the spatiotemporal element. Villagrán De León 2006 introduces the notion that a community or society be viewed as a set of interconnecting systems and networks. The individual components of these systems must be assessed for their vulnerability together with the vulnerability of the relationships and interactions between these components. Therefore, the intrinsic connectivity of organizations, together with the interdependencies that arise as a result, have a significant impact on organizational vulnerability.

RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN JOB DESIGN AND ORGANIZATIONAL RESILIENCE

Empirical findings on previous research conducted on the concept established that skills that enable an employee to be effective are affected by experience and training, which leads to increasing efficiency in information processing and greater proficiency in these skills (Lord & Hall, 2005). An individual that is adaptable will be a more effective because of better use of skills in novel, demanding situations than a person that does not. The same goes for an individual that is creative in using his or her skills to solve organizational problems (Lord & Hall, 2005; Hoever, Knippenberg., Ginkel, & Barkema, 2012; Sacramento, Fay, D., & West, 2013).

Adaptability and creativity are not directly related to effective leadership but do moderate the relationship between problem solving skills, information processing skills, knowledge and social skills, and effective leadership. Also, the degree to which an individual can be adaptable and creative depends on their traits (Hoever et al., 2012; Sacramento et al., 2013). Pulakos, Arad and Donovan (2000) describe and measure adaptability as a combination of eight skills in a study of 9,462 critical incidents in 21 different jobs within 11 different military, federal government, state government, and private sector jobs in the United States. This eight-dimensional study was empirically evaluated and intra class correlation ranged from .73 to .98, indicating high agreement among respondents regarding the adaptability requirements of their jobs.

More specifically, significant correlations (ranging from .59 to .69) resulted between the following dimensions: dealing with uncertain/unpredictable work situations; solving problems creatively; learning work tasks, technologies, and procedures; and handling work stress.

Employee adaptability to change is of interest to employers because of its implications to high employee resistance to change, which has been a major obstacle to the change implementation process. Markus (2011) Argued that banks need to implement change programs but outlines employee resistance as an obstacle to the process. He suggests that adequate preparations of employees through training and prior communication about the change will enable employees to embrace change with minimal resistance. Studies have identified different determinants of employee adaptability to change.

A study by Waceke (2013) on change management observed that employees needed training, motivation, and effective transformation leadership, to enable them to transcend their fear, frustrations and generally resistance to change. She further cites gender programs as prerequisite to the change management in commercial institutions in Kenya. This study reflects the importance of determinants of employee adaptability to change, that may ultimately minimize employee resistance, which has been widely cited in many studies as the greatest obstacle to change.

However, this attitude is determined by a diversity of factors or predictors where contextual forces play the dominant role and the same has been reported over and over again. Bassey, (2002) aims to identify the key issues of job design research and practice to motivate employees’ performance. His study therefore sought to look at job design with respect to employee motivation and job performance that skills, task identity, task significance, autonomy, feedback, job security and compensation are important factors for motivating employees. The conceptual model of Hackman and Oldham’s job characteristics was adopted to motivate employees’ performance. The findings depicted that a dynamic managerial learning framework is required in order to enhance employees’ performance to meet global challenges. He therefore recommended that attention be given specifically to the psychological needs of workers and how they may be met.

Sokoya, (2000) explored the aspect of satisfaction with jobs and career, and the predictors of job satisfaction among the emerging adults in Alberta. Obtaining data from the Alberta High School Graduate Survey among a sample of 1,030 emerging adults from Alberta, it was found in his study that task identity and personal characteristics tend to affect organizational resilience and that level of job satisfaction is determined by a combination of jobs, work and personal characteristics.

Claus and Neta (2004) Developed a theory regarding the relationship between task autonomy and performance, existing studies of task autonomy have not only fallen short of providing a complex model incorporating several different mechanisms but also have not addressed the mechanisms that might contribute to null or negative effects of adaptability. They attempted to remedy those shortcomings by presenting a model that combines multiple mechanisms and explores multiple contingencies by which task autonomy affects adaptability. In particular, the model illustrates a variety of ways in which autonomy can have null or negative effects on performance, processes that have not previously been theorized or studied. Claus and Neta 2004 argued that the effect of task autonomy on adaptability is the sum of three independent mechanisms. One mechanism is the motivational effect of autonomy, which is contingent on state- and trait-based individual differences. Another mechanism is the informational effect, as autonomy may capitalize on the asymmetry of information between those who do the work and those who supervise it, although this positive effect may be limited by increased cognitive distraction.

Finally, structural features of the task may enhance or limit the process benefits of task autonomy. Morrison, et al, (2005) identified that job designs that provide for high levels of employee control also provide increased opportunities for the development and exercise of skill. Also, meditational influence of perceived skill utilization on job control and job satisfaction has been observed. Garg and Rastogi, (2006) concluded that perceived work demands, job control and social support through job design leads to high productivity.

Niessen, Volmer, Hollenbeck, and Tiegs. (2010) in their study demonstrated that individuals who normally accomplished tasks with low autonomy were aware of the increase of autonomy but did not make full use of it. Reflection about task accomplishment appears to not be beneficial but rather detrimental for using the newly gained autonomy. Participants who worked previously with low autonomy preferred the next best solution (Frese, 2007). This result was not attributable to motivational reasons because they did not find an increase of motivation in due to high autonomy (Langfred & Moye, 2004). The hypothesis that performance will increase over the trials was not supported. It seems that during the first trial after the increase of autonomy participants developed a strategy to advise the student which was retained when working on subsequent cases. One may suggest that after the increase of autonomy, cognitive demands were high. Consequently, individuals tended to rely on less capacity demanding yet suboptimal routines.

Lazear (2005) chose a retrospective design by analysing the employment biographies of Stanford graduates via a job history panel to examine the variety and the degree of specialization of each graduate. For him the main measure of the number of skills of a person is the number of different occupations a person has had before. Lazear (2005) finds a positive relationship between this measure and the probability for self-employment, citing this as evidence for the ‘jack-of-all-trades’ hypothesis (Lazear, 2004; 2005). Here the relevant question is not whether multi-skilled individuals are more likely to become self-employed or business owners, but whether they are more likely to succeed when trying to set up a business. This is a very different question than that asked in previous studies, since the primary threshold, the decision to start a business, has already been made. According to Lazear (2005) individuals who plan to start a new business should intentionally choose to acquire more varied skills than those who do not. Recent meta-analyses of vulnerability concepts and methodologies have shown that, in the studies reviewed, there was often little coherence between the theoretical definitions and the methodologies applied, while authors often paid lip-service to the concepts of resilience and vulnerability (Hinkel 2008, Zou and Thomalla 2008, Ionescu, Klein, Hinkel, Kavi, & Klein, 2009, Larsen, Miller, & Thomalla, 2009).

Many assessments, for example, use the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change definition of vulnerability (IPCC 2001), but end up applying very different kinds of methodologies (Hinkel 2010). In their meta-analysis of social vulnerability to coastal hazards in South and Southeast Asia, Zou and Thomalla (2008) identified a gap between theoretical work on vulnerability and empirically based case studies in which the application of, or even reference to, particular conceptual frameworks are rare. Of the 128 documents analysed, only 14% referred to a particular conceptual framework for vulnerability assessment. Although this is not the case with all work in the field, it is certainly worrying that such a high incidence of empirical work exists that is not well linked to conceptual development. Similar trends can be seen in the resilience literature, in which empirical work is still interpreting resilience in the narrow sense of return time and recovery, thereby missing the broader use of the concept. Reasonable effort has been made in an attempt to explain firm’s resilience and industry change (Agarwal & Gort 2002; Klepper & Thompson 2006).

Innovation however features prominently in the case studies of task identity from one stage to another; the analysis of the issue has mainly failed to account for the complex nature of the innovation process. Many studies particularly did not account for the fact that while some innovations succeed, a good number of them failed. Innovation in essence increases the likelihood of exceptional performance as well as death.

Brown and McIntosh (2003) in their study showed that controlling workplace characteristics can qualitatively change conclusions about job-satisfaction. This study is also of great importance to researchers as it can help build a model that can assist isolating aspects of task identity that can affect employee’s qualitative conclusions about job satisfaction thus enhancing employee performance and organizational resilience.

 

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