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J.

RICHARD HACKMAN

Work Redesign and Motivation


The redesign of jobs and work systems is frequently carried out to increase organizational productivity and/or to improve the quality of the work experiences of organization members. Four theoretical approaches to work redesign are reviewed and compared, and the kinds of personal and work outcomes that can reasonably be expected from restructuring jobs are discussed. A number of unanswered questions about the strategy and tactics of redesigning jobs are set forth, and some problems in installing work redesign programs in existing organizations are outlined.

The term work redesign refers here to activities that involve the alteration of specific jobs (or systems of jobs) with the intent of improving both productivity and the quality of employee work experiences. Although there are no generally accepted criteria for what is a well-designed job, there are some commonalities in work redesign projects. Typically, job specifications are changed to provide employees with additional responsibility for planning, setting up, and checking their own work; for making decisions about work methods and procedures; for establishing their own work pace; and for dealing directly with the clients who receive the results of the work. In many cases, jobs that previously had been simplified and segmented into many small parts in the interest of production efficiency are reassembled and made into larger and more meaningful wholes. Sometimes work is redesigned to create motivating and satisfying jobs for individual employees who work more or less on their own. Such activities are usually known as "job enrichment" (Herzberg, 1974).1 Alternatively, work may be designed as a group task, in which case a team of workers is given autonomous responsibility for a large and meaningful module of work. Such teams typically have the authority to manage their own social and performance processes as they see fit; they receive feedback (and often rewards) as a group; and they may even be charged with the selection, training, and termination of their own members. These teams are variously known as "autonomous work groups" (Gulowsen, 1972), "self-regulating work groups" (Cummings, 1978), or "self-managing work groups" (Hackman, 1978). A wellknown and well-documented example of the design of work for teams is the Topeka pet food plant of General Foods. (See Walton, 1972, for a description of the innovation and Walton, 1977, for a 6-year history of the Topeka teams.) Both individual and team work redesign can be viewed as responses and alternatives to the principles for designing work that derive from classical organization theory and the discipline of industrial engineering. These principles specify that rationality and efficiency in organizational operations can be obtained through the simplification, standardization, and specialization of jobs in organizations. These principles are based on the assumption that most employees, if managed well, will work efficiently and effectively on such jobs. Research over the last several decades has documented a
1 Job redesign, job enlargement, and job enrichment are closely related terms and will not be distinguished here. Readers who wish to sort out the connotations of the various terms used to characterize work redesign are referred to Strauss (1974, pp. 38-43).

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Copyright 1980 by the American Psychological Association, Inc. 0033-0175/80/1103-0445S00.75

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number of unintended and dysfunctional consequencesboth for workers and for their employing organizationsof work designed in accord with classical principles (Kornhauser, 1965; Vernon, 1924; Walker & Guest, 1952). Current approaches to work redesign, then, tend to have a behavioral emphasis and attempt to create jobs that enhance work productivity without incurring the human costs that have been associated with the traditional approaches. Theories of Work Redesign Most work redesign activities are guided by one or another of the four theoretical approaches summarized below. We begin with a theory that has a very psychological focus (activation theory), move next to two "mid-range" theories (motivation-hygiene theory and job characteristics theory), and conclude with a more molar and systemfocused theory (sociotechnical systems theory).
ACTIVATION THEORY

As noted above, numerous human problems have been associated with work on routine, repetitive tasks. Included are diminished alertness, decreased responsiveness to new stimulus inputs, and even impairment of muscular coordination. Employees who work on highly routine jobs are often observed to daydream, to chat with others rather than work on their tasks, to make frequent readjustments of posture and position, and so on. Activation theory can help account for such behaviors (Scott, 1966). Basically, activation theory specifies that a person's level of activation or "arousal" decreases when sensory input in unchanging or repetitive, leading to the kinds of behavior specified above. Varying or unexpected patterns of stimuli, on the other hand, keep an individual activated and more alert, although over time the individual may adapt to even a varied pattern of stimulation. One approach to work redesign that is based on activation theory is that of job rotation, that is, rotating an individual through a number of different jobs in a given day or week, with the expectation that these varied job experiences will keep the person from suffering the negative consequences of excessively low activation. The problem, it seems, is that people adapt fairly quickly even to new stimulation, and if the new task is just as boring as the old one, then no long-term gains are likely. At present, activation theory seems most useful for understanding the consequences

J. RICHARD HACKMAN is Professor of Organization and Management and of Psychology at Yale University. He is author or editor of five books in organizational psychology, the most recent being Work Redesign, co-authored with Greg R. Oldham. He also has written over 40 articles and chapters on social and organizational psychology. He is on the editorial board of Organizational Behavior and Human Performance and the Journal of Social Issues and was section editor of the Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, Divisions 8 and 14. THE CONTRIBUTIONS of Mary Dean Lee and Greg R. Oldham to the development of the ideas and views expressed here are gratefully acknowledged. REQUESTS FOR REPRINTS should be sent to J. Richard Hackman, 56 Hillhouse Avenue, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520.

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of jobs that are grossly understimulating (or overstimulating). Except for the pioneering work by Scott (1966) and more recent theorizing by Schwab and Cummings (1976), relatively little progress has been made in applying the tenets of activation theory to the design of jobs so that they foster and maintain high task-oriented motivation.
MOTIVATION-HYGIENE THEORY

By far the most influential theory of work redesign to date has been the Herzberg two-factor theory of satisfaction and motivation (Herzberg, 1976; Herzberg, Mausner, & Snyderman, 1959). This theory proposes that factors intrinsic to the work determine how satisfied people are at work. These factors, called "motivators," include recognition, achievement, responsibility, advancement, and personal growth in competence. Dissatisfaction, on the other hand, is caused by factors extrinsic to the work, termed "hygienes." Examples include company policies, pay plans, working conditions, and supervisory practices. According to the Herzberg theory, a job will enhance work motivation only to the extent that motivators are designed into the work itself; changes that deal solely with hygiene factors will not generate improvements (cf. Katzell, 1980). Motivation-hygiene theory has inspired a number of successful change projects involving the redesign of work (e.g., Ford, 1969; Paul, Robertson, & Herzberg, 1969). Because the message of motivation-hygiene theory is simple, persuasive, and directly relevant to the design and evaluation of actual organizational changes, the theory continues to be widely known and generally used by managers of organizations in this country. There is, however, considerable uncertainty and controversy regarding the conceptual and empirical status of motivation-hygiene theory qua theory. For a succinct treatment of the theory, see Herzberg (1968). For reviews of research assessments of the theory, see King (1970), House and Wigdor (1967), who are particularly skeptical, and Whitsett and Winslow (1967), who are particularly sympathetic.
JOB CHARACTERISTICS THEORY

This approach attempts to specify the objective characteristics of jobs that create conditions for high levels of internal work motivation on the part of employees. Based on earlier research by Turner and Lawrence (1965), current statements of the theory suggest that individuals will be internally motivated to perform well when they experience the work as meaningful, they feel they have personal responsibility for the work outcomes, and they obtain regular and trustworthy knowledge of the results of their work. Five objective job characteristics are specified as the key ones in creating these conditions: skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback from the job itself (Hackman & Lawler, 1971; Hackman & Oldham, 1976). When a job is redesigned to increase its standing on these characteristics, improvements in the motivation, satisfaction, and performance of job incumbents are predicted. However, individual differences in employee knowledge and skill and in need for personal growth are posited as influencing the effects of the job characteristics on work behaviors and attitudes. Strongest effects are predicted for individuals with ample job-relevant knowledge and skill and relatively strong growth needs.
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A diagnostic instrument, the Job Diagnostic Survey, has been developed to assess employee perceptions of the job characteristics listed above, selected attitudes toward the work and the organization, and individual growth need strength (Hackman & Oldham, 1975). This instrument is intended for use both in diagnosing work systems prior to job redesign and for assessing the consequences of work redesign activities. For an overview of the theory that emphasizes its practical application to work redesign, see Hackman, Oldham, Janson, and Purdy (1975); for the most current statement of the theory, including its application to the design of work for groups as well as individuals, see Hackman and Oldham (1980). For a skeptical view of the job characteristics approach, see Salancik and Pfeffer (1977).
SOCIOTECHNICAL SYSTEMS THEORY

Contrasting the job-focused theories mentioned above, the sociotechnical systems approach emphasizes the importance of designing entire work systems, in which the social and technical aspects of the workplace are integrated and mutually supportive of one another (Emery & Trist, 1969). This approach emphasizes the fact that organizations are imbedded in, and affected by, an outside environment. Especially important are cultural values that specify how organizations "should" function and generally accepted roles that individuals, groups, and organizations are supposed to play in society. Thus, there is constant interchange between what goes on in any given work organization and what goes on in its environment. This interchange must be carefully attended to when work systems are designed or changed (Davis & Trist, 1974). When redesigned in accord with the sociotechnical approach, work systems are never changed in piecemeal fashion. Although jobs, rewards, physical equipment, spatial arrangements, work schedules (and more) may be altered in a sociotechnical intervention, none of these is taken as the primary focus of change activities. Instead, organization members (often including rank-and-file employees and/or representatives of organized labor as well as managers) examine all aspects of organizational operations that might affect how well the work is done or the quality of organization members' experiences. Changes that emerge from these explorations invariably involve numerous aspects of both the social and technical systems of the organization. Typically, however, such changes do involve the formation of groups of employees who share responsibility for carrying out a significant piece of workthe "autonomous work group" idea mentioned earlier (Cummings, 1978). Such groups are becoming an increasingly popular organizational innovation and now are frequently seen, even in work redesign projects that are not explicitly guided by sociotechnical theory. For a summary of sociotechnical systems theory as it applies to work redesign, see Cherns (1976), Davis (1975), or the now-classic study of coal mining by Trist, Higgin, Murray, and Pollock (1963). For a critique of the theory, see Van der Zwaan (1975).
COMPARISON OF THE THEORETICAL APPROACHES

Activation theory, motivation-hygiene theory, job characteristics theory, and sociotechnical systems theory offer different approaches to work redesign. Activation theory specifically addresses the dysfunctional aspects of repetitive work, whereas 448 PROFESSIONAL PSYCHOLOGY Vol. 11, No. 3 June 1980

motivation-hygiene theory and job characteristics theory emphasize ways to enhance positive motivational features of the work. The Herzberg model differs from the job characteristics theory in proposing a more general process for increasing motivation (i.e., identify motivators and increase them), whereas the job characteristics approach emphasizes specific diagnostic procedures to optimize the fit between people and their work. Sociotechnical systems theory contrasts sharply with the other theories in that it emphasizes the design of work for groups rather than individuals. Another difference among the theories lies in their assumptions about how the redesign of work should be planned and implemented. Activation and motivationhygiene theories appear to put the burden on management to identify the problematic aspects of the work. Neither approach suggests extensive gathering of information and inputs from employees. At the other end of the continuum, sociotechnical work redesign projects involve a high degree of worker participation. Job characteristics theory emphasizes the importance of understanding workers' perceptions and attitudes toward their jobs but does not explicitly require their participation in actual planning for work redesign. Outcomes of Work Redesign How successful are work redesign activities in achieving their intended objectives? Systematic data about the matter are surprisingly sparse, given the popularity of work redesign as an organizational change technique. My own assessment of the state of the evidence is summarized briefly below; more thorough and/or analytic reviews are provided elsewhere.2 1. Work redesign, when competently executed in appropriate organizational circumstances, generally increases the work satisfaction and motivation of employees whose jobs are enriched. Especially strong effects have been found for employees' level of satisfaction with opportunities for personal growth and development on the job as well as for their level of internal work motivation (i.e., motivation to work hard and well because of the internal rewards that good performance brings). There is little evidence that work redesign increases satisfaction with aspects of the organizational context such as pay, job security, co-workers, or supervision. Indeed, enrichment of the work sometimes prompts decreases in satisfaction with pay and supervision, especially when these organizational practices are not altered to mesh with the new responsibilities and increased autonomy of the persons whose jobs are redesigned. 2. The quality of the product or service provided generally improves. When a job is well designed from a motivational point of view, the people who work on that job tend to experience self-rewards when they perform well. And, for most people, performing well means producing high-quality work of which they can be proud. 3. The quantity of work done sometimes increases, sometimes is unchanged, and sometimes even decreases. What happens to production quantity when work is redesigned may depend mostly on the state of the work system prior to redesign (Hackman & Oldham, 1980). Specifically, productivity gains would be expected under two circumstances: (a) when employees were previously exhibiting markedly low
See, for example, Davis and Trist (1974), Katzell, Bienstock, and Faerstein (1977), Katzell and Yankelovich (1975, chapter 6), Paul, Robertson, and Herzberg (1969), and Pierce and Dunham (1976). For a skeptical view of the evidence, see Fein (1974).
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productivity because they were actively "turned off by highly routine or repetitive work or (b) when there were hidden inefficiencies in the work system, as it was previously structuredfor example, redundancies in the work, unnecessary supervisory or inspection activities, and so on. If such problems preexisted in the work unit, then increases in the quantity of work performed are likely to appear after the work is redesigned. If such problems were not present, then quantity increases would not be anticipated; indeed, decreases in quantity might even be noted as people worked especially hard on their enriched jobs to produce work of especially high quality. 4. Findings regarding employee attendance at workabsenteeism and turnoverare not clear. The research needed to draw trustworthy conclusions about turnover is not yet available; and it may be that turnover is far more powerfully affected by economic and labor market conditions than by how jobs are designed. Research findings regarding absenteeism, like those for production quantity, are inconsistent: Some studies report improvements in attendance when jobs are enriched, some report no change, and some show worse absence problems than before. It may be that who is absent is different for routine, simple jobs compared to complex, challenging jobs. More talented employees, for example, may show higher absence rates for routine jobs because of boredom. Less talented employees may be more unhappy (and therefore more frequently absent) for challenging jobs, because they find themselves overwhelmed by the same complexity that engages and motivates their more competent peers. This hypothesis would suggest that any overall indicator of absenteeism for total work groups could be misleading because of the differential effects of work redesign on employees who differ in competence. Although it is now generally recognized that work redesign is not a panacea for all organizational ills, it remains difficult to arrive at a "bottom line" estimate of the costs and benefits of job changes. Simple reports of improvements in job satisfaction are not likely to significantly warm the hearts of cost-conscious line managers; and for reasons outlined above, simple measures of production quantity or labor cost are inappropriate when used as the sole measure of the effects of work redesign. Other outcomes, including many that may be among the most appropriate indices of work redesign outcomes, are presently difficult or impossible to measure in terms that are comparable across organizations. What, for example, is the ultimate cost of poor quality work ? Or of "extra" supervisory time ? Or of redundant inspections ? Or of absenteeism, soldiering, or sabotage? Until we become able to assess the effects of work redesign on such outcomes, it will continue to be difficult to determine unambiguously whether or not work redesign "pays off" in traditional economic coin. Unanswered Questions and Future Directions Despite the recent popularity of work design as a research topic and change technique, many unanswered questions remain, especially regarding the application of work design principles in complex, ambiguous organizational situations. In the paragraphs to follow, I briefly highlight several research and conceptual issues that strike me as among the most currently pressing.
DIAGNOSTIC AND EVALUATION METHODOLOGIES

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of the changes that are made? Heretofore, most diagnostic and evaluation methodologies have relied on paper-and-pencil instruments completed by individuals whose jobs are about to be (or have been) redesigned. As Walton (1980) notes in another article in this issue, there are reasons for caution and skepticism in the use of such methods, even when they are psychometrically adequate (also see Barr, Brief, & Aldag, Note 1, for a critical analysis of the psychometric properties of existing instruments that measure perceived task characteristics). Yet there also are significant problems , in relying on the perceptions of managers and consultants about people and their work when work systems are diagnosed and the effects of job changes are assessed. Research has shown, for example, that both cognitive limitations and social distortions can significantly bias what is seen by observers who have a "stake" in the organization or in contemplated changes (Hackman & Oldham, 1980, chapter 5). What, then, is to be done to improve our diagnostic and evaluation capabilities? Researchers both at the University of Michigan (Lawler, Nadler, & Cammann, 1980) and at the University of Pennsylvania (Van de Ven & Ferry, 1980) have recently developed organizational assessment packages (some parts of which include observational and archival measures as well as paper-and-pencil instruments) that may be of considerable use in diagnosing and evaluating work redesign programs. One especially promising approach to measuring the outcomes of work redesign has been developed by Macy and Mirvis (1976) as part of the Michigan project. This methodology involves defining, measuring, and costing certain kinds of behavioral outcomes in economic terms. It appears to offer the potential for more rigorous assessment of the economic effects of work restructuring than has heretofore been possible; ultimately, it should help reduce some of the previously noted ambiguities in comparing the outcomes of different work redesign activities.
THE ROLE OF INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES

Although only one of the theoretical approaches to work redesign reviewed earlier (job characteristics theory) explicitly incorporates individual differences as a part of the theory itself, literally dozens of studies have tested the general proposition that different people react differently to enriched, challenging work. A great heterogeneity of individual difference measures has been tried, ranging from theory-specified measures of growth need strength to subcultural background to relatively esoteric personality measures. In general, results have been inconsistent (i.e., individual-differences moderators have sometimes operated as predicted and sometimes not) and of limited magnitude (i.e., the moderating effects, when obtained, have not accounted for major portions of the variation in satisfaction or performance). That there are important individual differences in readiness for enriched work and reactions to it seems indisputable; but it also is clear that existing theories and research methods have so far failed to provide satisfactory ways of conceptualizing and measuring whatever it is that accounts for the highly variagated reactions of people to their work. How is this discrepancy to be understood? Some new thinking and some new research methods clearly are called for to resolve this conceptually interesting and practically important question.
INDIVIDUAL VERSUS TEAM DESIGNS FOR WORK

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emphasis on the design of work for individuals versus teams (i.e., motivation-hygiene theory is essentially an individual-focused theory; sociotechnical systems theory is oriented primarily to work teams). Presumably an individual design is more appropriate (and will be more effective) in some organizational circumstances, and a team design will be better in others. Yet except for some untested conjectures about the circumstances under which one or the other design is more appropriate (see Hackman & Oldham, 1980), there is little in the way of research and theory to guide decision making about whether an individual or a team design is relatively more appropriate for given organizational circumstances. There should be more.
THE JOB OF THE SUPERVISOR

Relatively little research and few change programs have focused on the design of lower-level jobs in management. These jobs deserve greater attention for two reasons. First, supervisory jobs in many organizations are as poorly designed as are rank-and-file jobs selected for enrichment. Especially troublesome are restrictions on the autonomy lower-level managers have to carry out their work and limitations on the amount and the validity of the feedback they receive about their performance. Yet, in the rush to attend to the jobs held by supposedly alienated rank-and-file workers, very real problems in the design of managerial jobs often are overlooked. Second, the jobs of lower-level managers invariably are affected, often negatively, when their subordinates' jobs are improved. Indeed, improvements in employee jobs are sometimes made directly at the expense of managerial jobs: Decision-making responsibilities and special tasks that traditionally have been reserved for management are given to workers, and the jobs of managers may be denuded to about the same extent that subordinate jobs are improved. When this happens, supervisors may become justifiably angry at the effects of work redesign on the quality of their own life at work, with predictable effects on their continued cooperation with the work redesign activities. Moreover, constraints on the supervisory job (and limited opportunities for training and practice) may make it difficult for supervisors to learn the new behaviors that they need to effectively manage employees who work on newly enriched jobs. Walton and Schlesinger (1979) have recently completed a detailed analysis of supervisory role difficulties when work is restructured. They offer some provocative ideas about how that role might be redesignedand how persons might be selected and trained for itthat merit careful attention by both scholars and practitioners of work redesign.
TENSIONS IN THE INSTALLATION PROCESS

Although the hoped-for outcomes of work redesign are generally clear in a given change project, planning about how to get there from here is often a rather murky and uncertain affair. In general, our theories about the content of work redesign are much better than our theories about the process of making the needed changes. Among the questions at issue are the following. How responsive should changes be to idiosyncracies of the people, the setting, and the broader environment? How closely should changes be tied to one or another of the theories of work design, as op452 PROFESSIONAL PSYCHOLOGY Vol. 11, No. 3 June 1980

posed to a more ad hoc approach to change? How fully should the employees whose jobs are to be changed participate in the planning and execution of those changes? If one aspires to diffusion beyond the initial site of the change, how should the first site be selected (i.e., should it be an "easy" or a "difficult" change target)? How should one manage the expectations of employees and managers about the magnitude of the change and its anticipated benefits? Should expectations be kept low to avoid possible disappointment, or should they be raised to provide a hedge against possible conservatism and retreat when the time comes to actually put planned changes in place? What is the appropriate model for union-management collaboration in carrying out work redesign? How should evaluation activities be designed and carried out to provide the opportunity for midcourse corrections, but to avoid the risk of premature judgment about whether the project is a success or a failure? There is little research evidence available about questions such as these.3 Worse, it is doubtful that traditional research methodologies in organizational psychology are likely to generate trustworthy data about them. Questionnaires and cross-sectional surveys seem unlikely to do the trick, for obvious reasons. And even true or quasiexperimental studies of the installation process seem not very promising, despite the repeated calls for more of them. Why? For one thing, not many organizations are likely to allow the kinds of controls that are required for good experimental research (e.g., randomization of "subjects" across conditions or use of change processes that are not expected to be effective in "control groups"). Managers and employees in organizations, understandably, usually insist that when change is done, only state-of-the-art procedures should be used. Even if decent experimental designs could be put in place, organizations are notorious for not "holding still" until all follow-up observations are collected. Key managers are transferred, the technology or market changes, a strike occurs or is about to, a large number of employees in one experimental unit (but not in another) depart for reasons that have nothing to do with the manipulated variables, and so on. Indeed, if it were possible to obtain and maintain the kind of control needed for "good" experimental research on work redesign processes, that would be such an unusual state of affairs that one would have to worry about the generality of the findings to more typical (and more chaotic) organizational circumstances. It appears, therefore, that building systematic understanding about the process of installing and supporting changes in the design of work may require some significant innovations in organizational research methodologies. Perhaps, for example, ways can be found to collect and report data from case studies so that they can be combined to build trustworthy and cumulative bodies of knowledge. Or perhaps certain anthropological techniques can be adapted to the study of change processes in organizations. We do not know at present what methodological innovations will be developed and be found useful. But it seems beyond dispute, at least to this reviewer, that some such innovations will be required to generate research findings about work redesign that are more conceptually sound and practically useful than those we have at present.
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There has been some theorizing about these questions, however, and a good deal of advice has been offered by practitioners who have experience in dealing with them. See, for example, Cummings and Srivastva (1977), Ford (1969), Oldham and Hackman (1980), Sirota and Wolfson (1972), and Walton (1975).

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Received March 27, 1979

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