Jack Ma of Alabama

Research a situation your leader faced while at the head of his or her current or previous organization. Using the concepts outlined in Chapter 8, analyze the leader’s actions through the lens of the motivational theories and argue that the leader’s actions were appropriate or inappropriate in the context of the theories.

Be sure to use actual examples from the literature and cite your sources appropriately. Be sure to include extensive research outside the textbook and also to cite the textbook correctly including page numbers. You are expected to use at least two academic or business sources other than your textbook each week.

Be sure your first post each week directly addresses the prompt above. Your remaining posts should continue to further the depth and breadth of the discussion by responding to your professor or classmates.


Book: Organizational Behavior

17th ed.


2017.0 Pearson


Notes for Chapter 8

Motivating by Job Design: The Job Characteristics Model

1. 1 Describe how the job characteristics model motivates by changing the work environment.

The way work is structured has a bigger impact on an individual’s motivation than might first appear.  Job design  suggests that the way elements in a job are organized can influence employee effort, and the job characteristics model, discussed next, can serve as a framework to identify opportunities for changes to those elements.

The Job Characteristics Model

Developed by J. Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham, the  job characteristics model (JCM)  describes jobs in terms of five core job dimensions:1

1. Skill variety  is the degree to which a job requires different activities using specialized skills and talents. The work of a garage owner-operator who does electrical repairs, rebuilds engines, does bodywork, and interacts with customers scores high on skill variety. The job of a body shop worker who sprays paint 8 hours a day scores low on this dimension.

2. Task identity  is the degree to which a job requires completion of a whole and identifiable piece of work. A cabinetmaker who designs furniture, selects the wood, builds the objects, and finishes them has a job that scores high on task identity. A job scoring low on this dimension is operating a lathe solely to make table legs.

3. Task significance  is the degree to which a job affects the lives or work of other people. The job of a nurse helping patients in a hospital intensive care unit scores high on task significance; sweeping floors in a hospital scores low.

4. Autonomy  is the degree to which a job provides the worker freedom, independence, and discretion in scheduling work and determining the procedures for carrying it out. A sales manager who schedules his own work and tailors his sales approach for each customer without supervision has a highly autonomous job. An account representative who is required to follow a standardized sales script with potential customers has a job low on autonomy.

5. Feedback  is the degree to which carrying out work activities generates direct and clear information about your own performance. A job with high feedback is testing and inspecting iPads. Installing components of iPads as they move down an assembly line provides low feedback.

Exhibit 8-1  presents the JCM. Note how the first three dimensions—skill variety, task identity, and task significance—combine to create meaningful work the employee will view as important, valuable, and worthwhile. Jobs with high autonomy give employees a feeling of personal responsibility for results; feedback will show them how effectively they are performing. The JCM proposes that individuals obtain internal rewards when they learn (knowledge of results in the model) that they personally have performed well (experienced responsibility) on a task they care about (experienced meaningfulness). The more these three psychological states are present, the greater will be employees’ motivation, performance, and satisfaction, and the lower their absenteeism and likelihood of leaving. As  Exhibit 8-1  indicates, individuals with a high growth need are more likely to experience the critical psychological states when their jobs are enriched—and respond to them more positively.

Exhibit 1

The Job Characteristics Model


Source: J. L. Pierce, I. Jessika, and A. Cummings, “Psychological Ownership within the Job Design Context: Revision of the Job Characteristics Model,” Journal of Organizational Behavior 30, no. 4 (2009): 477–96.

Much evidence supports the JCM concept that the presence of these job characteristics generates higher job satisfaction and organizational commitment through increased motivation. 2  In general, research concurs with the theory behind the JCM, although studies have introduced potential modifiers. One study suggested that when employees were “other oriented” (concerned with the welfare of others at work), the relationship between intrinsic job characteristics and job satisfaction was weaker,3 meaning that our job satisfaction comes less from these characteristics when we care about others. Another study proposed that the degree of psychological ownership we feel toward our work enhances our motivation, particularly if the feelings of ownership are shared among a work group. 4  Other research has explored the JCM in unique settings such as in virtual work situations, finding that if individuals work together online but not in person, their experience of meaningfulness, responsibility, and knowledge of results can suffer. Thankfully, managers can mitigate these for employees by consciously developing personal relationships with them and increasing their sense of task significance, autonomy, and feedback. 5

We can combine the core dimensions of the JCM into a single predictive index, called the  motivating potential score (MPS)  and calculated as follows:

MPS equals the fraction Skill variety plus Task identity plus Task Significance over 3 (end fraction) times Autonomy times Feedback

MPS=Skillvariety+Taskidentity+TaskSignificance3×Autonomy×FeedbackMPS=Skill variety + Task identity+ Task Significance3×Autonomy×Feedback

To be high on motivating potential, jobs must be high on at least one of the three factors that lead to experienced meaningfulness and high on both autonomy and feedback. If jobs score high on motivating potential, the model predicts that motivation, performance, and satisfaction will improve, while absence and turnover will be reduced. But we can better calculate motivating potential by simply adding characteristics rather than using the formula. Think about your job. Do you have the opportunity to work on different tasks, or is your day routine? Are you able to work independently, or do you constantly have a supervisor or coworker looking over your shoulder? Your answers indicate your job’s motivating potential.

A few studies have tested the JCM in different cultures, but the results aren’t consistent. The fact that the model is relatively individualistic (it considers the relationship between the employee and his or her work) suggests job enrichment strategies may not have the same effects in collectivistic cultures as in individualistic cultures (such as the United States). Indeed, one study in Niger found that while the MPS was highly influenced by job dimensions, the correlations were different than the general data gathered from predominately individualist countries. 6  In contrast, another study suggested the degree to which jobs had intrinsic job motivators predicted job satisfaction and job involvement equally well for U.S., Japanese, and Hungarian employees. 7



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