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The Relationship between Underemployment and Job Attitudes of New Zealand Graduates

Given the current economic climate marked with organizational restructurings, downsizing and streamlined global enterprises, more individuals are choosing to study at a tertiary level in order to secure and enhance their employment opportunities. The result is an increase in more highly educated workers trying to find jobs which utilize their skills and qualifications. When this is not achieved, an individual may perceive a discrepancy between their current job situation and their desired job situation, and feelings of 'underemployment' may result. A self-report questionnaire was completed by 568 alumni from the University of Waikato and Victoria University to determine the relationship between underemployment and individual and organizationally-relevant outcomes. The results revealed that graduates who perceived themselves to be underemployed reported lower levels of job satisfaction, stronger careerist attitudes (belief that one does not get ahead mainly on the basis on merit), lower life satisfaction, lower affective commitment, increased intention to quit, and increased job searching behaviour. Relative deprivation, defined as the perceived discrepancy between an individual‘s current employment situation and the job situation they both desire and feel entitled to, was assessed to determine its mediating effects on underemployment and the predicted job outcomes. The analysis showed that relative deprivation mediated twenty three of the thirty five mediation relationships that were tested, indicating that relative deprivation plays a significant role in explaining how negative job attitudes arise from feelings of underemployment. The findings from this research have important implications for the way in which individuals and organizations can manage levels of underemployment and the resulting job attitudes. This may include assessing the nature of work and an individual‘s responsibilities by allowing for more job scope or 'job crafting' – shaping the task boundaries of the job, within the context of defined jobs, to better suit individuals expectations for satisfactory employment.
Type of thesis
Cockroft, K. B. (2011). The Relationship between Underemployment and Job Attitudes of New Zealand Graduates (Thesis, Master of Applied Psychology (MAppPsy)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5337
University of Waikato
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