Examining the value of the job characteristics model for improving the experience of work and work - related outcomes for adults with severe and persistent mental illness

Phyllis C. Panzano, Ph.D.
Pud D. Baird, Ph.D.
Beverly A. Seffrin, M.A.
Decision Support Services, Inc.

Most experts agree that current employment rates for adults with severe and persistent mental illness reflect neither the potential nor the desire of these individuals to work. Numerous barriers are recognized as contributing to this situation (e.g., stigma, structure of benefits systems, etc.) and efforts are underway at the federal, state and local levels to reduce these cultural and system-level obstacles.

While mental health system leaders tackle the complex problems of reducing cultural and structural barriers to work for adults with SPMI, other domains must contribute expertise on the many issues related to work for this population. Job design is an extensively studied approach used by Industrial/Organizational (I/O) psychologists to optimize job structure in order to satisfy both individual worker and employer interests. The current research is designed to customize job design knowledge and technology to the population of adults with severe and persistent mental illness.

Research Goals

The major goal of this research is to evaluate the extent to which the Job Characteristics Model (JCM) (Hackman & Oldham, 1976), a motivation-based approach to job design, can be used to understand and improve the experience of work for members or identifiable subgroups of the population of adults with SPMI. The JCM, in a modified form, is expected to be useful for understanding how job design can improve desired work outcomes for adults with SPMI and for their employing organizations.

The Job Characteristics Model

The JCM (see Figure 1) explains how perceived characteristics of jobs (see below) are related to outcomes that are important to individual workers and to their employers. Desired outcomes in the JCM include high levels of internal motivation, quality performance and job satisfaction, and low absenteeism and turnover. Job characteristics include:

Skill variety: the range of personal competencies required to perform the job.

Task identity: the degree to which the entire job is done by a single person.

Task significance: the extent to which the job has an impact on the lives of other persons within or outside the organization.

Autonomy: the extent to which one has freedom, discretion, and independence in scheduling one's work and determining how to performs the job.

Job feedback: the extent to which the worker gets information about the quality of his/her performance from the job itself, from coworkers, from customers, etc.

Perceived job characteristics are expected to impact outcomes through their impact n workers' "critical psychological states" including 1) how meaningful the job is, 2) the extent to which the worker feels responsible for the work produced, and 3) how well the worker believes s/he is performing the job. The JCM also identifies a number of factors that are expected to moderate linkages in the model including: 1) knowledge and skill to perform the job, 2) the extent to which one is motivated to learn, grow or develop on the job (i.e., growth need strength (GNS); Alderfer, 1969) and the worker's level of satisfaction with contextual factors in the workplace.


Research Home - Page 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | NEXT >


Copyright 2002 Decision Support Services, Incorporated.
Website related questions, comments and problems can be sent to webmaster@dssincorporated.com