Work Redesign: Eight Obstacles and Opportunities

13404 Words Apr 9th, 2011 54 Pages
WORK REDESIGN: EIGHT OBSTACLES AND OPPORTUNITIES

M I C H A E L A . C A M P I O N , T R O Y V. M U M F O R D , F R E D E R I C K P. M O R G E S O N , A N D JENNIFER D. NAHRGANG
Successful work-design initiatives must overcome many obstacles in order to have their intended impact. This article outlines eight obstacles to work redesign: (1) influences on multiple outcomes, (2) trade-offs between different approaches, (3) difficulty in choosing appropriate units of analysis, (4) difficulty in predicting the nature of the job, (5) complications from individual differences, (6) job enlargement occurring without job enrichment, (7) creating new jobs as part of growth or downsizing, and (8) differences between longterm and short-term effects.
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Several challenges, or obstacles, remain, however, for practitioners attempting to implement work-design changes. These challenges emerge for diverse reasons, such as conflicting constituent needs, the complexity of organizations, and the practical realities of the workplace. For example, work designed according to mechanistically oriented principles will be radically different from work designed according to motivationally oriented principles. The seemingly irreconcilable trade-offs between the two approaches represent an obstacle to research and practice because they suggest a dichotomy: work can be either efficient or satisfying.

The purpose of this article is to improve understanding of these eight obstacles and to provide direction for managing them. As these obstacles are formidable and defy simple solutions, it is not our intention to completely solve each of them. Rather, we hope to clarify sufficiently the issues involved and to aid practitioners in making informed and rational work-design decisions that complement their particular situation.

Obstacle #1: Work Design Influences Multiple Outcomes
The first obstacle lies in recognizing that work design influences multiple outcomes. In fact, different scientific disciplines have produced several distinct approaches to job design and research. Further complicating matters is that each approach has
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