Individual differences in the relationship between satisfaction with job rewards and job satisfaction
Job satisfaction is without doubt one of the most studied outcomes in organizational research (Spector, ١٩٩٧). One of the reasons is probably its intuitive link with a wide range of important employee behaviors such as turnover, absenteeism, and performance (Schleicher, Hansen, & Fox, ٢٠١٠). Therefore, the research on job satisfaction is widespread. Traditionally, job rewards are considered a major determinant of job satisfaction. For example, according to the equity model of Adams (١٩٦٥) people compare their input/output ratio – which reflects the rewards they receive in return for the work they perform – to that of a comparison person to determine whether they feel satisfied in their job. Similarly, in the discrepancy model of Porter and Lawler (١٩٦٨) people's job satisfaction is determined by a comparison of their current job conditions (including the rewards they receive) to their ideal job. Apart from its role in theories on job satisfaction, the centrality of job rewards is also obvious when screening instruments that are utilized to measure job satisfaction. In particular, the two most important instruments, the Job Descriptive Index (JDI) and the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire (MSQ) both include a subscale referring to satisfaction with job rewards (see Schleicher et al., ٢٠١٠). From the above, one would conclude that job rewards are indispensable for job satisfaction. However, important theories on job satisfaction conjecture that job rewards do not (always) affect job satisfaction. In particular, Herzberg's (١٩٥٩) two-factor theory conceptualizes pay as a hygiene factor rather than a satisfier. Hence, it is predicted that satisfaction with pay does not affect job satisfaction. A similar conclusion can be drawn from self-determination theory (Deci and Ryan, ١٩٨٥ and Deci and Ryan, ٢٠٠٢), which posits that satisfaction results from intrinsic motivation, and that intrinsic motivation is not or even negatively influenced by extrinsic rewards (for example by providing financial rewards Gagné & Forest, ٢٠٠٨). In sum, conflicting views on the role of job rewards in relation to job satisfaction exist. In the present study, we argue that both views should not exclude one another. Rather, depending on the individual under consideration, the one or the other may apply. In other words, we suggest that there are individual differences in the link between job rewards and job satisfaction in that for some people extrinsic rewards do indeed relate to satisfaction, whereas for other people this is not the case. In what follows, we will elaborate on this point. First we distinguish between two categories of job rewards; second we argue why individual differences in the relationship between rewards and job satisfaction are expected on the basis of existing work on work values, and finally we argue that these individual differences relate to other job-outcomes as well. ١.١. Categories of job rewards Rewards are key components of the exchange relationship between employee and employer (Armstrong, ٢٠١٠, Cropanzano and Mitchell, ٢٠٠٥ and White and Drucker, ٢٠٠٠). Hence, rewards are used as a tool to guide behavior and performance in an attempt to attract and retain the best-qualified employees and keep them satisfied and motivated (Bellenger et al., ١٩٨٤, Bratton and Gold, ٢٠٠٣ and Rynes et al., ٢٠٠٤). Because of this reason, the research and theorizing on rewards is widespread and has a long history (e.g., Currall et al., ٢٠٠٥, Heneman and Judge, ٢٠٠٠ and Williams et al., ٢٠٠٨). At the same time, the stream of research on rewards is heavily dominated by studies on the impact of financial rewards (often referred to as ‘pay’). This is somewhat surprising given that almost all major motivation and satisfaction theories explicitly stress the importance of alternative types of rewards (e.g., Adams, ١٩٦٥, Deci and Ryan, ١٩٨٥, Deci and Ryan, ٢٠٠٢, Herzberg, ١٩٥٩ and Porter and Lawler, ١٩٦٨). In line with these theories, the total reward management movement has recently conceptualized rewards as any valued outcome an employee receives from the employer in exchange for the employee's effort and contribution (Henderson, ٢٠٠٣). Total reward management hereby acknowledges that it is important to provide the appropriate financial rewards, but stresses the necessity to complement these with other reward types (Armstrong, ٢٠١٠). To date, there are several total reward categorizations available (e.g., Christofferson and King, ٢٠٠٦, Milkovich and Newman, ٢٠٠٥ and Zingheim and Schuster, ٢٠٠٠), but the underlying categorization principle appears to be quite similar. In this study, we focus on two major categories of rewards, that is, financial and psychological rewards. Because several authors have long noted that not the working conditions themselves, but rather how these are experienced and valued (Porter and Lawler, ١٩٦٨ and Vroom, ١٩٦٤) are more influential (Steel, ٢٠٠٢), we study the satisfaction with these two types of rewards, rather than the rewards themselves. ١.٢. Individual differences in the link between job rewards and job satisfaction While there are studies on the relationship between job rewards and employee behaviors and attitudes, they focus almost exclusively on general (or average) patterns. In other words, they do not take individual differences in this relationship into account. The few exceptions that have studied individual differences in (the perception of) job rewards have limited themselves to comparisons between a priori defined groups, such as men and women (e.g., Buchanan, ٢٠٠٥, Graham and Welbourne, ١٩٩٩ and Keaveny and Inderrieden, ٢٠٠٠), people from different cultures (e.g., Fong & Shaffer, ٢٠٠٣), with different educational levels (Klein & Maher, ١٩٦٦) or from different age groups (Clark, Oswald, & Warr, ١٩٩٦). Consequently, our understanding of individual differences in the link between reward satisfaction and job satisfaction is limited at best. At the same time, traditional theories on job satisfaction and motivation do not agree on the role of various categories of rewards. In particular, for equity theory (Adams, ١٩٦٥) and the discrepancy model of Porter and Lawler (١٩٦٨) both financial and psychological rewards are expected to relate to job satisfaction, whereas Herzberg's (١٩٥٩) two-factor theory and self-determination theory (Deci and Ryan, ١٩٨٥ and Deci and Ryan, ٢٠٠٢) state that financial rewards do not satisfy people. We believe that this theoretical disagreement does not imply that one theoretical proposition has to be rejected in favor of the other. Rather, we believe that different theories may hold for different individuals. Therefore, we expect that financial reward satisfaction relates to job satisfaction for only a subset of employees (as there is disagreement as to the impact of this type of reward), whereas the relationship between psychological reward satisfaction and job satisfaction holds for every employee. In other words, we hypothesize that two person types exist, for the first person type both financial and psychological reward satisfaction relate to job satisfaction, whereas for person type two only psychological reward satisfaction does. ١.٣. Work values as antecedents of individual differences in the reward satisfaction–job satisfaction relationship The literature on work values provides us with a framework to explain why the link between reward satisfaction and job satisfaction varies from individual to individual. Values are criteria or goals that serve as guiding principles in people's life, thereby transcending specific situations (Schwartz, ١٩٩٩). Work values are more specific than general values in that they refer to people's working life. As such, they can be considered general and stable goals employees want to realize through working (Nord, Brief, Atieh, & Doherty, ١٩٨٨). Because work values are relatively stable across time and situations, and because they differ between individuals by definition (e.g., De Cooman et al., ٢٠٠٨ and Kalleberg, ١٩٧٧), they affect the way in which people differentially perceive their working situation. As such, work values can be conceived as antecedents of the predicted individual difference pattern. Whereas the literature on work values reports a wide variety of them (Zytowski, ١٩٧٠), a commonly used differentiation is between intrinsic or self-actualization, extrinsic or material, and social or interpersonal work values (De Cooman et al., ٢٠٠٨ and Nord et al., ١٩٨٨). Especially the latter two categories are relevant when studying financial and psychological rewards, and more specifically the work values financial security and recognition. In particular, for individuals who strongly value financial security, it may be logically hypothesized that financial reward satisfaction relates to job satisfaction. Otherwise, individuals who highly value recognition are expected to show a strong link between job satisfaction and psychological reward satisfaction. ١.٤. Turnover intention and affective commitment as consequences of individual differences in the reward satisfaction–job satisfaction relationship Finally, we expect individual differences in the link between job rewards and job satisfaction to relate to two important job-related employee outcomes, that is, turnover intention and affective commitment. A first reason is that it has repeatedly been shown that satisfaction with the rewards one receives affects both turnover intention and affective commitment (De Gieter et al., ٢٠٠٨, DeConinck and Bachmann, ٢٠٠٥ and DeConinck and Stilwell, ٢٠٠٤). Second, from a theoretical point of view, turnover intention and affective commitment are considered a consequence and correlate of job satisfaction respectively (Schleicher et al., ٢٠١٠ and Williams et al., ٢٠٠٦). In line with this reasoning, a recent meta-analysis showed high to very high correlations between turnover intention (r = − .٦٥) as well as affective commitment (r = .٦٠) and job satisfaction (Schleicher et al., ٢٠١٠). Along the lines of SDT (Deci and Ryan, ١٩٨٥ and Deci and Ryan, ٢٠٠٢), we suggest that individuals whose satisfaction is determined by satisfaction with their financial rewards are less intrinsically motivated. Therefore we expect these people to be less committed to the organization and to be more inclined to leave. In sum, this study examines individual differences in the relationship between satisfaction with financial as well as psychological rewards on the one hand and job satisfaction on the other hand. Concerning satisfaction with financial rewards, a large body of studies has shown that people are more satisfied with their job when they experience higher pay satisfaction (see Williams et al., ٢٠٠٦). Moreover, it has been shown that satisfaction with psychological rewards also plays a key role in satisfying people, and is sometimes even more important than pay (De Gieter, De Cooman, Pepermans, & Jegers, ٢٠١٠). However, individual differences research on the relationship between satisfaction with the two aforementioned types of rewards and job satisfaction remains missing. Therefore, the present study tests (١) the presence of individual differences in the relationship between satisfaction with financial as well as psychological rewards and job satisfaction; (٢) the role of the work values financial security and recognition as antecedents of these individual differences; and (٣) turnover intention and affective commitment as differential consequences of the individual differences pattern. We believe that this will provide us with a deeper, more profound insight into how satisfaction with different job rewards relates to job satisfaction.
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