Defining Job Design

Read this section and pay attention to the approaches to job design and the importance of the key elements to good design. This is important because efficiency and effectiveness is directly related to the way in which a job is designed. Good job design takes attention to detail and alignment with process.

Job design is the systematic and purposeful allocation of tasks to individuals and groups within an organization.



Compare and contrast the multitude of job-design approaches and perspectives available in the organizational field



Key Points

  • The key inputs for a strong job design are a task, motivation, resource allocation and a compensation system.
  • Taylorism, or scientific management, is the original job-design theory. It stresses standardization of tasks and proper training of workers to administer the tasks for which they are responsible.
  • The Socio-Technical Systems Approach is a theory that maps the evolution from individual work to work groups. The organization itself is structured to encourage group autonomy and productivity.
  • The Core Characteristics Model connects job characteristics to the psychological states that the worker brings to the job. It emphasizes designing jobs so that they lead to desired outcomes.
  • Taking into account these various theoretical models, job design is best described as specifying a task with enough context to communicate clearly and concisely what is expected of a given employee.

Key Terms

  • empower: To give people more confidence or strength to do something, often by enabling them to increase their control over their own life or situation.


Job Design Overview

Job design is the allocation of specific work tasks to individuals and groups. Allocating jobs and tasks means specifying the contents, method, and relationships of jobs to satisfy technological and organizational requirements, as well as the personal needs of jobholders.

Dick and Carey Systems Approach Model (Instructional Design): The figure shows how an instructional system is designed. It represents a model of a job design with a specific application (instruction).


Key Elements of Job Design

To understand job design, it is helpful to identify some key elements and their relationship with job design processes.

  • task can be best defined as a piece of assigned work expected to be performed within a certain time. Job designers must strictly and thoroughly identify tasks that need completion.
  • Motivation describes forces within the individual that account for the level, direction, and persistence of effort expended at work. Individuals need to be compelled, excited, and passionate to do their work. Managers should design jobs that motivate employees.
  • Resource allocation occurs when an organization decides to appropriate or allocate certain resources to specific jobs, tasks, or dilemmas facing the organization. In job design, it is necessary to identify and structure jobs in a way that uses the company’s resources efficiently. Appropriate resource allocation allows large organizations to foster and develop innovation in their workforce and underscores strategy through distribution.
  • Reward systems also play a role in job design. Reward systems include compensation, bonuses, raises, job security, benefits, and various other reward methods for employees. An outline or description of reward packages should be established when constructing jobs.


Theoretical Models of Job Design

Organizations may employ various theoretical approaches for job design. These include Taylorism, Socio-Technical Systems Approach, Core Characteristics Model, and Psychological Empowerment Theory. Each approach emphasizes different aspects to be considered in effective job design.



Taylorism, also known as scientific management, is a foundation for systematic job design. Frederick Taylor developed this theory in an effort to develop a “science” for every job within an organization according to the following principles:

  • Create a standard method for each job.
  • Successfully select and hire proper workers.
  • Effectively train these workers.
  • Support these workers.


The Socio-Technical Systems Approach

The Socio-Technical Systems Approach is based on the evolution from individual work to work groups. This approach has the following guiding principles:

  • The design of the organization must fit its goals.
  • Employees must be actively involved in designing the structure of the organization.
  • Control of variances in production or service must be undertaken as close to their source as possible.
  • Subsystems must be designed around relatively self-contained and recognizable units of work.
  • Support systems must fit in with the design of the organization.
  • The design should allow for a high-quality working life.
  • Changes should continue to be made as necessary to meet changing environmental pressures.


Core Characteristics Model

Another modern job design theory is the Core Characteristics Model, which maintains five important job elements that motivate workers and performance:

  • Skill variety
  • Task identity
  • Task significance
  • Autonomy
  • Job feedback

The individual elements are then proposed to lead to positive outcomes through three psychological states:

  • Experienced meaningfulness
  • Experienced responsibility
  • Knowledge of results


Psychological Empowerment Theory

Psychological Empowerment Theory posits that there is a distinction between empowering practices and cognitive motivational states. When individuals are aware of the impact they have, they benefit more than if they cannot attribute positive impact to any of their actions.


Overall Trend

Many more iterations of job design theory have evolved, but general trends can be identified among them: job design is moving towards autonomous work teams and placing added emphasis on the importance of meaning derived from the individual.

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Last modified: Tuesday, April 9, 2019, 3:01 PM