Job Satisfaction

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Job Satisfaction: What is it? Why is it Important? How
Can you Get it? by Kevin Scheid
The issue of job satisfaction, what
it is and why it is important, brings
with it a great deal of research
and opinion accompanied by a
vast store of written material.
However , the topic j ob
satisfaction lacks clarity and is
sometimes controversial. The
term “job satisfaction” is
understood to mean everything
from “making all aspects of a job
easy for employees” to “making
the job meaningful, significant
and challenging.” Research on
the importance of job satisfaction
can be equally confusing with
some research clearly indicating
no correlation between job
satisfaction and job effectiveness
while other research indicates
there is a definite connection
between the two. The likely
reason for this confusion, beyond
a lack of understanding on the
topic, is that all factors associated
with job satisfaction are not
understood, agreed upon,
measured or correlated.
Moreover, all the factors
contributing to employee
motivation and effectiveness are
not captured in any one of the
single ambiguous concepts of job
satisfaction. Thus, much of the
qualitative research has not been
verified by qualitative data.
Research conducted by
Schleicher, Watt and Greguras
(2004) indicates that individuals
with identical responses to
questions on job satisfaction often
possess entirely different
behaviors relating to job
performance. Additionally,
differing factors relating to job
satisfaction hold varying degrees
of importance to individuals.
Thus, a proven model showing
the relationship between job
satisfaction and performance has
been elusive despite the vast
quantity of qualitative data
supporting the relationship. These
issues are very complex and
have simply not been fully
deciphered by researchers.
Dispositional Theory
Some of the theories relating to
job satisfaction may further
illustrate the complexity of the
issue and help the understanding
of how management may
positively affect job performance
through job satisfaction. The first
theory is the dispositional theory.
The idea that people who are
happy in life are happy in their job
is called the dispositional theory
and there is significant research
to support this idea. Heller(2002)
connects three behavioral
theories to aid in the
understanding of the dispostional
theory. These three theories
include research on positive
affectivity and negative affectivity,
the big five personality attributes
and core self evaluations.
Positive affectivety is a
personality charact e r i s t ic
described as high energy,
enthusiastic and pleasurable
engagement while negative
affectivety is a personality type
characterized as distressed,
unpleasurable engagement and
nervousness (Heller, 2002).
Research has shown that people
with positive affectivity are
happier in their work and happier
in life than those with negative
The big five personality attributes
introduced by Goldberg (1990)
have a near consensus
agreement from behavioral
experts as the comprehensive
personality taxonomy. According
to Heller (2002) these five traits
include: “extraversion (or
surgency), neuroticism (or
emo t i o n a l i n s t a b i l i t y ) ,
a g r e e a b l e n e s s ,
conscientiousness, and openness
The idea that people
who are happy
in life are happy in
their job is called
the dispositional
theory and there is
significant research
to support
this idea.
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(or culture).” Research has shown
a strong correlation between
these five factors and job
The third facet of dispositional
theory, core self evaluation
theory, developed by Judge,
Locke, and Durham (1997) is
gaining acceptance as a model
for determining job satisfaction
and job performance. Core self
evaluation theory has four facets
i n c l u d i n g : s e l f - e s t e e m ,
generalized self-efficacy, locus of
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