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Impact of work design on psychological work reactions and job performance among technical workers: A longitudinal study in Malaysia

Work design has long been found to affect employee well-being, but scholars have begun to question whether the established theoretical relations regarding work design continue to hold given the enormous changes in the nature of work during the past two decades. It is increasingly recognised that social characteristics affect work behaviours in substantial ways, and recent theorising proposes that individual differences are also important. Few studies on work design have investigated these factors together. In addition, little is known about whether existing Western findings regarding the effects of work design generalise to non-Western cultures. This thesis built upon to the Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) model of work design, to test the impact of work design on employee well-being in Malaysia, a country characterised as collectivistic and having high power distance. Specifically, my research sought to examine, cross-sectionally and longitudinally, the direct effects of psychosocial work characteristics on psychological strain. Also, the present study assessed the moderating effects of job resources variables including job control, social support, and self-efficacy on the relationships between job demands and psychological strain. Finally, this study examined the mediation effect of psychological strain on the relationships between work design variables and work attitude outcomes (i.e. job satisfaction, affective commitment, and turnover intentions), as well as the mediation effects of these work attitudes on the relationship between psychological strain and job performance. This research involved a non-experimental two-wave panel survey design with a six-month time interval. Self-reports on the study variables were obtained from 429 technical workers at Time 1 and 245 at Time 2 in a large telecommunication company in Malaysia. I used multivariate analyses to examine the direct and moderating effects hypotheses, and structural equation modeling (SEM) to assess the mediation effects hypotheses. The findings confirmed the direct effects of job demands, job control, social support, and self-efficacy on psychological strain. However, the results failed to support the Job Demands Control (JDC) model in this Malaysian context. Indeed, the combination of high job demands and high job control increased, rather than reduced, psychological strain in this Malaysia setting. The results also provide evidence for a moderating effect of supervisor support, but not for perceived organisational support or co-worker support. Overall, the results did provide some support for the Job Demands Control Support (JDCS) model. Furthermore, they demonstrated a moderating effect of self-efficacy. In the mediation analyses, psychological strain (especially anxiety/depression) functioned as a mediator between work design variables and work attitudes. In subsequent mediation analyses, job satisfaction, affective commitment, and turnover intentions mediated the effect of psychological strain on job performance, particularly in the cross-sectional analyses. This research makes several theoretical contributions, and provides information concerning the JD-R model and its application to a culture characterised by high collectivism and high power distance. The findings may help human resource practitioners understand how work design influences employees’ well-being and performance. Implications are discussed to enhance better mapping of interventions at individual and group levels. Recommendations for future research include the need to test an expanded model of work design and well-being using multi-wave longitudinal designs and multiple measures of key variables.
Type of thesis
Panatik, S. A. (2010). Impact of work design on psychological work reactions and job performance among technical workers: A longitudinal study in Malaysia (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/4412
University of Waikato
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