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A FURTHER EXAMINATION OF THE DETERMINANTS
OF JOB SATISFACTION IN PROGRAMMER/ANALYSTS

David K. Goldstein

November 1982

Revised February 1983

CISR WP //96
Sloan WP #1370-82



Center for Information Systems Research

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Sloan School of Management

77 Massachusetts Avenue

Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02139



A FURTHER EXAMINATION OF THE DETERMINANTS
OF JOB SATISFACTION IN PROGRAMMER/ANALYSTS

David K. Goldstein

November 1982

Revised February 1983

CISR WP #96
Sloan WP #1370-82



D.K. Goldstein 1983

Center for Information Systems Research

Sloan School of Management

Massachusetts Institute of Technology



In the past, research examining the determinants of job satisfaction in
programmer/analysts has focused on the relationship between characteristics of the
job itself - such as skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy, and
feedback from the job - and job satisfaction. It is hypothesized that certain
aspects of programmer/analysts' relationships with co-workers, project leaders, and
users will also be important determinants of job satisfaction. Specifically, the
relationship between job satisfaction and role conflict and role ambiguity, and
quality of leadership provided by supervisors and peers is examined. A
questionnaire measuring job characteristics, role conflict and ambiguity, leadership
characteristics, and job satisfaction was administered to ll8 programmer/analysts at
four companies. The results indicate that both role and leadership variables
correlated as least as highly with job satisfaction as job characteristics. These
results have important implications for managers interested in redesigning data
processing jobs and for researchers interested in improving the systems development
process.



The study of job satisfaction and its determinants is a major research area in
industrial and organizational psychology. One estimate is that, as of I976, over
3000 articles have been written examining job satisfaction in general and the
satisfaction of specific types of workers [I6]. With one major exception [5],
almost no research has been conducted on the job satisfaction of
prog rammer /anal ysts.

There are strong reasons for studying job satisfaction and its determinants in
programmer/analysts. First, researchers have shown that job satisfaction is
negatively correlated with several outcome variables, such as absenteeism and
turnover [I6]. Turnover is of special relevance for MIS managers, due to the
shortage of experienced programmer/analysts and the high cost of training new hires.

Second, there is some evidence that there is a relationship between job
satisfaction and productivity. In systems development, productivity improvement has
been traditionally obtained through the introduction of new productivity aids, such
as higher level languages and structured development methods. Improving job
satisfaction could also be an important 'tool' for improving productivity. Couger
and Zawacki hypothesize that improved motivation among programmer/analysts could
lead to a reduction in the large backlog of systems awaiting development. There is,
however, much debate about the strength and direction of the link between
productivity or performance and job satisfaction [1,22,23].

Third, it is important to study the determinants of job satisfaction in
programmer/analysts to gain a better understanding of the effects of the
introduction of a new tool or technique. Productivity improvement aids are becoming
increasingly popular in data processing organizations. (See Goldstein [7] and
Martin [I7] for an examination of these tools and their impact on system
development.) There is, however, a controversy concerning the impact of such aids



Page 2



on the job satisfaction of programmer/analysts. Some researchers have argued that
the use of these aids reduces the skill level of programmer/analysts [15]. which
could lead to a decrease in job satisfaction. However, we could argue that the use
of these aids increases job satisfaction by making the job of programmer/analysts
more manageable. If the use of productivity aids decreases job satisfaction, then
its personnel costs could outweigh its benefits. Alternatively, if job satisfaction
increases with the use of productivity aids, this would provide further evidence for
those advocating its use.

This paper describes a study extending Couger and Zawacki's [5] previous
research. This study, a survey of job satisfaction in programmer/analysts, examines
several variables not considered in the Couger and Zawacki study. in order to place
the survey in perspective, the work of these researchers will first be reviewed.
Following this, two sets of variables - role variables and leadership variables -
hypothesized to be important determinants of job satisfaction, will be introduced.
Finally, the results of a survey designed to examine the impact of these variables
on job satisfaction, will be presented and analyzed.



OVERVIEW

Hackman and Oldham's [10,11] Job Characteristic Model, the model used by Couger
and Zawacki [5], is the dominant paradigm in the literature on job design [6]. The
premise of the model is that personal and work related outcome variables, such as
job satisfaction and work effectiveness, are related to objective characteristics of
the job. The model focuses on five core job dimensions - skill variety, task
identity, task significance, autonomy, and feedback from the job itself - that are



Page 3



hypothesized to be related to three key psychological states - experienced
mean! ngfulness of the work, experienced responsibility for the work, and knowledge
of results. These psychological states are, in turn, related to personal and work
related outcomes, including job satisfaction. These relationships are moderated by
an individual's knowledge and skill, growth need strength (need for personal
accomplishment), and satisfaction with his or her job contexts, such as pay and
supervi s ion.

In a survey of over 1000 programmers, analysts, and programmer/analysts, data
presented by Couger and Zawacki indicated that d. p. professionals were very similar
to other professional and technical employees in their reactions to their job (See
Table 1). There was almost no difference between the two groups in the five core
job dimensions, or in feedback from agents, growth need strength, or supervisor
satisfaction. Programmer/analysts did, however, experience higher general job
satisfaction and lower satisfaction with their co-workers than other professionals.
One possible explanation for the higher job satisfaction is the newness of the data
processing field. Couger and Zawacki found significant positive correlations
between ratings on the job dimensions and job satisfaction (between .26 and .^0).
This is in agreement with the findings of Hackman and Oldham [9]. Improvements in
the core dimensions should, therefore, lead to improved job satisfaction.

The Job Characteristic Model, however, assumes that the job itself provides
most of the motivation and satisfaction for the worker. Hackman and Oldham state
that the model was developed to study "jobs that are done independently by
individuals working more or less alone" [11, page 6I]. This is not necessarily true
in systems development jobs, where programmer/analysts typically work in teams and
spend a great deal of time dealing with users, co-workers, and managers.



Page h



TABLE 1. COMPARISON OF JOB CHARACTERISTIC DATA FOR PROGRAMMER/ANALYSTS
AND OTHER PROFESSIONAL AND TECHNICAL WORKERS



PROGRAMMER/ANALYSTS



OTHER PROFESSIONAL
AND TECHNICAL WORKERS



VARIABLE


MEAN


STD DEV


MEAN


STD DEV


SKILL VARIETY


S-^


1 . 1


5.^


1 .0


TASK IDENTITY


5.2


1 . 1


5.1


1.2


TASK SIGNIFICANCE


5.6


1.2


5.6


.95


AUTONOMY


5.3


1 . 1


5.^


1 .0


FEEDBACK FROM JOB


5.1


1.1


5.1


1.1


FEEDBACK AGENTS


k.O


1.6


1».2


\.h


GENERAL SATIS.


5.3


1.2


^•3


.99


CO-WORKER SATIS.


5.1


1.2


5.5


.85


SUPERVISOR SATIS.


^4.9


1.5


U.3


1.3


GROWTH NEED STRENGTH


5.9


.99


6.1


.82


(WOULD LIKE FORM)











For example, consider a programmer/analyst who is responsible for the analysis,
design, and coding of a large and complex part of a system that is critical to the
success of the organization for which he or she works. There are several user
groups for the system and each wants it to perform different functions. Even though
the programmer/analyst's job might be high on all five job characteristics, his or
her job satisfaction might be low because of the problems involved in dealing with
conflicting user groups. Extensions to Hackman and Oldham's model, therefore, are
needed to study the impact of factors, other than job characteristics, on the job
satisfaction of programmer/analysts.

One extension to the Job Characteristic Model is the inclusion of role
perceptions advocated by Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Stroek, and Rosenthal [1^]. A role is
usually defined as the set of expectations about the behavior of a person who is in
a particular position within an organization. A role is, therefore, defined more
broadly than a job, which is typically defined as the set of tasks performed by an
individual. The study of roles explicitly considers the interactions of a worker
with others, whereas the study of jobs concentrates on the relationship between a



Page 5



worker and the tasks he or she performs. Kahn, et a), note that the growth of

organizations has led to more complex and specialized jobs, such as systems

development, where there is a great deal of i nterdependency among people. The

conflict and ambiguity found in these jobs can be a major source of personal stress

and a important determinant of job satisfaction.

In their research, Kahn, et al. identify two variables - role conflict and role

ambiguity - as potential sources of stress. Role conflict is "the degree of

incongruity or incompatibility in the expectations or requirements communicated to a

focal person" [2, page 92]. These researchers have identified several components of

role conflict. They are:

person-role conflict - the extent to which role expectations are incongruent
with the orientations, standards, or values of the focal person.

intrasender conf 1 ict - the extent to which role requirements are incompatible
with the resources or capabilities of the focal person.

intersender conflict - the extent to which role requirements or expectations
from one party oppose those from one or more other parties.

role overload - the extent to which the various role expectations communicated
to the focal person exceed the amount of time available for their
accomplishment [2, page 93]'

Role ambiguity is "the degree to which desired expectations are vague, ambiguous, or

unclear, thereby making it difficult for the person to fulfill the requirements [of

his role]" [2, page 93] •

In their study of various jobs, Kahn, et al. found role conflict and role

ambiguity to be high among people whose job required being innovative or involved

boundary spanning, dealing with people outside of the person's work group.

Specifically, they found high role conflict and ambiguity in a job called "IBM

Converter," which involved "developing computer programs that will make some of the

work of other departments [within an organization] amenable to processing by

electronic equipment" [1^*, page 116]. This type of job is very similar to the work



Page 6



that is currently performed by programmer/analysts.

In some more recent research, Bostrom [2] examined role conflict and role
ambiguity in 75 user-designer dyads involved in systems maintenance. He found
significant negative correlations between the role conflict and ambiguity felt by
the designer and his or her job satisfaction. He also found significant negative
correlations between these variables and the user's information satisfaction.
Bostrom's results are consistent with the findings of other researchers who have
examined the relationship between role variables and job satisfaction in many
different types of jobs and organizations [12,18,02,21].

A second extension to the Job Characteristic Model is the inclusion of
leadership characteristics. The quality of leadership provided by a
programmer/analyst's supervisor and peers is another potentially significant
determinant of job satisfaction. Since systems development is usually a team
effort, involving much interaction among team members, the quality of the
interactions and of the leadership and guidance provided by a programmer/analyst's
supervisor and peers could be important determinants of the programmer/analyst's job
sati sf act ion.

The relationship between leadership and organizational and personal outcomes

has been well documented. In reviewing the leadership research. Bowers and Seashore

[3] found that four characteristics of leadership behavior were common to many

studies. They are:

support - behavior that enhances someone else's feeling of personal worth and
importance.

interaction facilitation - behavior that encourages members of the [work] group
to develop close, mutually satisfying relationships.

goal emphasis - behavior that stimulates an enthusiasm for meeting the group's
goal or achieving excellent performance.



Page 7



work f aci 1 i tat ion - behavior that helps achieve goal attainment by such
activities as scheduling, coordinating, planning, and by providing resources
such as tools, materials, and technical knowledge [3. page 247].

These four characteristics can be used to examine the quality of leadership provided

by both the supervisor and the peers of a programmer/analyst. Bowers and Seashore

[3] found significant positive correlations between measures of these

characteristics and job satisfaction and performance.

The survey described below examines the relative importance of job

characteristics, role perceptions, and leadership characteristics as determinants of

job satisfaction in programmer/analysts. Based on the boundary spanning nature of

programmer/analysts' jobs, and the high level of team interaction needed in systems

development, it is hypothesized that role conflict, role ambiguity, and the

characteristics of supervisor and peer leadership discussed above will be

significant determinants of job satisfaction in programmer/analysts.



RESEARCH METHOD

Subjects and Procedure

Data were collected from 125 subjects at four large companies, each with over
100 programmer/analysts. Two were manufacturing companies located in the Northeast.
One was a Northeastern insurance company, and the other was a Midwestern insurance
company. The programmer/analysts who participated in the study were involved in
both the development of new systems and the maintenance of existing systems. Seven
subjects were excluded from the study - two managers, two contract programmers, and
three trainees.



Page 8



The questionnaire used to collect the data was administered in a classroom
setting to groups of between seven and thirty subjects at a time. The procedures
recommended by Hackman and Oldham [11, appendix D] were followed in administering
the quest ionnai re.

Measures

Role Conflict and Role Ambiguity - The role conflict measure is based on an

eight item scale developed by Rizzo, House, and Lirtzman [20]. Miles and Perrault

[18] found that the scale could be separated into subscales that measures each of

the components of role conflict identified by Kahn, et al. [U]. The fourth

subscale, used to measure role overload, was not significantly correlated with job

satisfaction in a study of programmer/analysts [2] and is not included in this

study. A sample item for each subscale, with the number of items in the subscale in

parentheses, follows:

person-role conf 1 ict (2) - "I have to do things that should be done
di f f erently ."

intrasender conflict (2) - "I receive an assignment without adequate resources
and materials to execute it."

intersender conflict {k) - "I do things that are apt to be accepted by one
person and not by others."

The six item role ambiguity measure developed by Rizzo, et al. [20] is used. A
sample item follows: "There are clear planned goals and objectives for my job."
Schuler, Brief and Aldag [21] conducted a scale analysis of both the role conflict
and role ambiguity measures and recommended their continued use.

Supervisor and Peer Leadership Measures - The scales developed by Bowers and
Seashore [5] are used to measure the supervisor and peer leadership characteristics.
The first set of scales consists of thirteen items that measure the four supervisor
leadership characteristics. The second set consists of eleven items that measure



Page 9



the four characteristics of peer leadership. Sample supervisor leadership items

fol low:

support - "To what extent is your supervisor friendly and easy to approach?"

goal emphasis - "To what extent does your supervisor encourage people to give
their best effort?"

work faci 1 i tation - "To what extent does your supervisor show you how to
improve your performance?"

interaction facilitation - "To what extent does your supervisor encourage the
people who work for him to work as a team?"

Yunger and Hunt [24] found these characteristics similar to the characteristics

identified in the Ohio State leadership behavior description (LBDQ) scales.

Job Characteristics - Hackman and Oldham's Job Diagnostic Survey (JDS) provides

measures of the five job characteristics. Each characteristic is measured with

three questions from two different sections of the survey. Sample items follow:

ski 1 1 variety - "The job requires me to use a number of complex or high-level
skills."

task identity - "The job is arranged so that I do not have the chance to do an
entire piece of work from beginning to end."

task significance - "This job is one where a lot of other people can be
affected by how well the work gets done."

autonomy - "The job requires a lot of cooperative work with other people."

feedback from the job itself - "Just doing the work required by the job
provides many chances for me to figure out how well I am doing."

Job Satisfaction - Four scales from the JDS are used to measure job

satisfaction. The principle measure is Hackman and Oldham's general satisfaction

scale. The other scales measure satisfaction with the opportunity of growth in the

job, with co-workers, and with supervision. A sample item for each scale, with the

number of items in the scale in parentheses, follows:

general satisfaction (5) - "Generally speaking, I am very satisfied with my
job."



Page 10



growth satisfaction C*) - "How satisfied are you with the amount of personal
growth and development you get in doing your job?"

co-worker satisfaction (3) - "How satisfied are you with the people you talk to
and work with on your job?"

supervisor satisfaction (3) - "How satisfied are you with the amount of support
and guidance you receive from your supervisor?"

Other Measures - The other scales found in the long form of the JDS are also

included in the questionnaire. They measure growth need strength, pay and job

security satisfaction, internal work motivation, and the three psychological states

identified by Hackman and Oldham [11]. These scales permit comparison of the

results of this survey to the findings of Couger and Zawacki [5] and Hackman and

Oldham [11].



RESULTS



Means, standard deviations, and internal consistency reliabilities for the
scales and subscales used in the study are presented in Table 2. All but one of the
reliabilities is within the satisfactory range specified by Nunnally [19]- This is
consistent with results presented in previous studies [11,21,2'*]. The only
exception is the person-role conflict subscale.

Table 3 presents comparisons of this data with the data obtained in studies by
Couger and Zawacki [5] and Hackman and Oldham [11]. In general, the means of the
measures in this sample are very similar to the means of the measures in the other
two samples. The only two exceptions are in the measures of task significance and
pay satisfaction. This sample has appreciably lower task significance than the
other two samples, and it has appreciably higher pay satisfaction than the sample of
technical and professional workers. The relative magnitudes of the means for this



Page 11



TABLE 2, SUMMARY STATISTICS FOR DEPENDENT AND INDEPENDENT VARIABLES









INTERNAL








CONSISTENCY


VARIABLE


MEAN


STD DEV


RELIABILITY


SKILL VARIETY


5.50


.922


.62


TASK IDENTITY


5.18


1.29


.77


TASK SIGNIFICANCE


5.05


1.25


.7'«


AUTONOMY


5.25


l.OU


.80


FEEDBACK FROM JOB


5.02


1.21


.85


ROLE AMBIGUITY


2.96


.998


.81


ROLE CONFLICT


3.61


1 .06


.79


PERSON-ROLE


3.86


l.lit


.32


INTRASENDER


3.19


l.itS


.78


INTERSENDER


3.69


1.25


.66


PEER SUPPORT


5.06


1.01


.75


PEER GOAL EMPHASIS


^♦.73


1.03


.66


PEER WORK FACILITATION


'♦.37


1.13


.80


PEER INTERACTION FAC.


it. '♦2


1.21


.80


SUPERVISOR SUPPORT


5.08


1.16


.85


SUP. GOAL EMPHASIS


5.09


1.10


.76


SUP. WORK FACILITATION


it. 26


1.08


.76


SUP. INTERACTION FAC.


It. lit


1.18


.59


GENERAL SATISFACTION


5.12


1.06


.80


GROWTH SATISFACTION


5.17


1.15


.7'*


CO-WORKER SATISFACTION


5.^2


.917


.70


SUPERVISOR SATISFACTION


5.02


1.28


.89



Note: all variables are seven-point scales.

sample are also very similar to the ones found in the other two samples.

Correlations between the independent variables - job characteristics, role
perceptions, and leadership characteristics - and the dependent variable - job
satisfaction - are found in Table it. All of the independent variables are
significantly correlated with the satisfaction variables. The correlations between
the job characteristics and general satisfaction are slightly higher than those
obtained by Couger and Zawacki [5]. Of the job characteristics, autonomy correlated
most highly with the satisfaction measures. Among the role perceptions, role



Page 12



TABLE 3. COMPARISON OF THIS JOB CHARACTERISTIC DATA WITH PREVIOUS STUDIES



CURRENT
STUDY



COUGER AND
ZAWACKI STUDY



MEAN STD DEV MEAN STD DEV



SKILL VARIETY


5.5


.92


5.^


. 1


TASK IDENTITY


5.2


1.3


5.2


. 1


TASK SIGNIFICANCE


5.0


1.3


5.6


.2


AUTONOMY


5.2


1.0


5.3


. 1


FEEDBACK FROM JOB


5.0


1.2


5.1


.1


FEEDBACK AGENTS


k,G


1.3


l*.0


.6


DEALING WITH OTHERS


6.0


.87


-


-


EXP. MEANINGFULNESS


5.1


■ Sh


-


_


EXP. RESPONSIBILITY


S.i*


.^3


-


-


KNOWLEDGE OF RESULTS


5.0


.Sk


-


-


GENERAL SATISFACTION


5.1


1.1


5.3


.2


INTERNAL WORK MOTIV.


5.7


.71


-


-


GROWTH SATISFACTION


5.2


1 .1


-


-


JOB SECURITY SATIS.


5.3


1.2


-


-


PAY SATISFACTION


5.1


1.3


-


-


CO-WORKER SATIS.


5.^


.92


5.1


.2


SUPERVISOR SATIS.


5.0


1.3


^.9


.5


GROWTH NEED STRENGTH


5.8


.71


5.9


.9


(WOULD LIKE FORM)










GROWTH NEED STRENGTH


ii.6


.73


-


-


(JOB CHOICE)










GROWTH NEED STRENGTH


5.2


.60


-


-


(COMBINED)











HACKMAN AND
OLDHAM STUDYa



MEAN STD DEV



5. A


1 .0


5.1


1.2


5.6


.95


5.4


1.0


5.1


1.1


i*.2


}.h


5.8


.96


5.^


.87


5.8


.72


5.0


.99


4.9


.99


5.8


.99


5.1


1.1


5.0


1.2


U.h


1.5


5.5


.85


'♦.9


1.3



6.1



5.6



.82



.Gk



.57



a - data for other professional and technical workers (Hackman and Oldham, I98O)

ambiguity correlated more highly with satisfaction than role conflict. Of the role

conflict subscales, person-role conflict - the perception that your job should be

done differently - correlated most highly with the satisfaction measures. This is
consistent with Bostrom's [2] findings. Among the leadership characteristics,

supervisor work facilitation and peer support correlated most highly with job
sat i sf act ion.



Page 13



.kk


.53


.31


.23


.27


.41


.21


.20


.42


.30


.28


.20


.49


.59


.35


.37


.41


.46


.35


.39


-.57



1

Online LibraryDavid K GoldsteinA further examination of the determinants of job satisfaction in programmer/analysts → online text (page 1 of 2)