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Center for Information Systems Research

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Sloan School of Management

n Massachusetts Avenue

Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02139



THE EFFECTS OF STRUCTURED DEVELOPMENT METHODS
ON THE JOB SATISFACTION OF PROGRAMMER/ANALYSTS;

A THEORETICAL MODEL



David K. Goldstein



May 1982

Sloan WP // 1330 - 82
CISR WP // 90



D. K. Goldstein 1982



Center for Information Systems Research

Sloan School of Management

Massachusetts Institute of Technology



ABSTRACT

This paper presents a theoretical model that explains the effects of
the use of structured development methods on the job satisfaction of
programmer/analysts. In the model, the independent variable - the use of
structured methods - is hypothesized to have an overall positive effect on
the principle dependent variable - the job satisfaction of
programmer/analysts. This can be best explained through several intervening
variables - role conflict, role ambiguity, task achievement, skill variety,
task identity, and autonomy. These are variables that will be significantly
affected by the introduction of structured methods and will significantly
affect the job satisfaction of programmer/analysts. This paper describes
the theoretical model and outlines a quas i -exper iment that can be used to
test the model .






Over the past ten years, the use of various types of structured
methods, from structured programming to structured systems analysis, has
been advocated as a way of improving productivity and quality in systems
development. Proponents of structured methods claim that they simplify
systems development by providing guidelines for carrying out the phases of
the development lifecycle and by providing a language that facilitates the
description and communication of systems requirements and systems designs.
This allows programmer/analysts to develop systems more quickly; it also
reduces systems errors, and leads to the development of systems that better
meet user needs (Goldstein, 1982a).

One potential consequence of the use of structured methods - its effect
on the job satisfaction of programmer/analysts - has received very little
attention. Some researchers have argued that the use of structured methods
reduces the skill level of programmer/analysts (Kraft, 1977). which could
lead to a decrease in job satisfaction. However, we could argue that the
use of structured methods reduces conflict between programmer/analysts and
users, reduces some of the ambiguity in systems development, and leads to
increased job satisfaction.

Level of job satisfaction could have important consequences for MIS
managers. In many studies job satisfaction has been shown to be negatively
related to absenteeism and turnover (Locke, I976). Turnover is of special
importance in MIS, due to the shortage of programmer/analysts and the high
cost of training new programmer/analysts. If the use of structured methods
decreases job satisfaction, then its personnel costs could outweigh its
benefits. Alternatively, if job satisfaction increases with the use of
structured methods, this would provide further evidence for those advocating
i ts use.



Page 2



This paper presents a model that explains the effects of the use of
structured methods on the job satisfaction of programmer/analysts. In the
model, the independent variable - the use of structured methods - is
hypothesized to have an overall positive effect on the principle dependent
variable - the job satisfaction of programmer/analysts. This can be best
explained through several intervening variables - variables that will be
significantly affected by the introduction of structured methods and will
significantly affect the job satisfaction of programmer/analysts. The model
also includes a set of environmental variables - factors that could affect
the validity of the model.

This paper is divided into four sections. The first section reviews
the relevant research on structured methods and job satisfaction. The
second discusses the theoretical model. The third outlines a
quasi -experimental design that can be used to test the model. The fourth
discusses the significance of the research.

REVIEW OF RELEVANT LITERATURE

There is no research that directly examines the effects of structured
development methods on the job satisfaction of programmer/analysts. There
is, however, a large body of literature that discusses the impacts of
structured methods on the systems development process and an even larger
body of literature that discusses the determinants of job satisfaction.
There are also a few articles that examine the determinants of job
satisfaction in programmer/analysts.



Page 3



Impacts of Structured Methods on Systems Development

Many authors have described how structured methods are used in systems
development. Various types of structured methods, such as H I PO (Jones,
1976), structured design (Stevens, Myers, and Constantine, ^^^^) , and data
structure design (Jackson, 1975; Warnier, 197'*) have been used to aid
programmer/analysts in systems analysis, design, and programming.

Goldstein (I98I), Mendes (I98O), Canning (1979a), Jones (197^), and
Winters (1979) describe how different structured methods are used in systems
analysis. Programmer/analysts use these methods to model both the functions
performed and data used by a business, as well as what the proposed systems
solution will do. In the articles, the authors claim that
programmer/analysts using structured methods in systems analysis develop a
better understanding of the business problem. They are better able to
communicate their understanding of the business problem and the proposed
systems solution to systems users. These two factors lead to a reduction in
systems analysis errors caused by analysts misunderstanding the users'
business problem or the users misunderstanding the analysts' proposed
solution. This should lead to the development of systems that better meet
the requirements of users.

Canning (1979b), Bernstein (1972), Menard (1978), and Hamilton and
Block (1979) discuss the use of structured methods in the systems design
phase. In systems design, structured methods are used to describe how a
system will function. They can describe the modules the system will use,
the interfaces between modules, and the data structures that must be
developed. The authors claim that the design aids are used to structure and
simplify the programming process. The output of the design process is
easier to turn into programs when these aids are used. This allows



Page k



organizations to use less experienced programmers or to increase the
productivity of their more experienced programmers. The number of
programming errors are reduced, maintenance is simplified, and project
management is easier when structured methods are used to support systems
des i gn.

Canning (197'+a,b), Baker (1972), I nmon (1976), and Rader (1978)
describe the impact of structured methods on the programming phase. In many
cases design and programming methods are used together. The design methods
produce modules that are programmed using structured programming methods.
The programming methods are used to structure the programming process. The
benefits of these methods in programming are the same as they are in design.

in some related research, Kraft (1977) and Greenbaum (1979) claim that
the use of structured methods, such as structured programming and Chief
Programmer Teams, de-skill the programming task. This makes it easier for
programming to be carried out by less experienced and less expensive
personnel. They draw analogies between the effect of structured methods on
programmer/analysts and the effect of the assembly line and scientific
management techniques on factory workers.

Determinants of Job Satisfaction

There is a great deal of research on job satisfaction and its
determinants. Locke (1976) provides a summary of the research on the
determinants of job satisfaction. He divides the determinants into events
and conditions, and agents.

Among events and conditions, he describes the effects on job
satisfaction of the job itself, the pay, promotion, recognition, and working
conditions. Hackman and Oldham (I98O) identify several characteristics of



Page 5



the job itself that positively affect job satisfaction. They are:

Ski 1 1 var iety - The degree to which a job requires a variety of
different activities in carrying out the work, involving a number of
different skills and talents of the person.

Task identity - The degree to which a job requires completion of a
whole and identifiable piece of work, that is, doing a job from
beginning to end with a visible outcome.

Task significance - The degree to which the job has a substantial
impact on the lives of other people, whether those people are in the
immediate organization or in the world at large.

Autonomy - The degree to which the job provides substantial freedom,
independence, and discretion to the individual in scheduling the work
and in determining the procedures to be used in carrying it out.

Job feedback - The degree to which carrying out the work activity
required by the job provides the individual with direct and clear
information about the effectiveness of his or her performance (Hackman
and Oldham, I98O, pages 78-79) •

Hdckman and Oldham found significant positive correlations between each of

these job characteristics and job satisfaction.

One aspect of work not considered by Hackman and Oldham is the amount
of task achievement found in the job. Locke claims that the degree to which
workers can overcome the challenges of their jobs positively affects their
job satisfaction. He also stresses that individual differences can moderate
the effects of these factors on job satisfaction.

Among agents, Locke describes the effects of sel f -percept i on,
co-workers, and the organization on job satisfaction. Inasmuch as the use
of structured methods changes the job performed by programmer/analysts, it
can change their sel f -percept i on. The literature on the impacts of
structured methods suggests that the use of structured methods could also
affect the relationship of programmer/analysts to users and managers. Role
ambiguity and role conflict (Kahn, et al., 196^) are two constructs that
measure the degree of ambiguity in a job and the degree to which a worker is
subject to conflicting demands from co-workers and managers. Both

Page 6



constructs have been shown to be negatively related to job satisfaction.
This is especially true for boundary spanning jobs - jobs requiring a great
deal of intra- or i nterorgani zat i onal contact.

Job Satisfaction of Programmer/Analysts

A few researchers have attempted to examine the determinants of job
satisfaction in programmer/analysts. Awad (1977) and Willoughby (1972) used
a needs reinforcement model to examine the factors affecting job
satisfaction of programmer/analysts. Willoughby found satisfaction was
highest when high levels of ability utilization, achievement, advancement,
creativity, recognition, responsibility, company fairness, social status,
and supervisor fairness were present. Awad applied the needs reinforcement
model to both programmers and analysts in one company. He found no
differences in needs between programmers and analysts. He also found that a
significant correlation between needs-reinforcement correspondence and job
sat! sf act ion.

Bostrom (I98O) examined the effects of role conflict and role ambiguity
on job satisfaction of system designers. He considered the effects of these
variables on 75 user-designer pairs involved in systems maintenance. He
found that role conflict and role ambiguity were significantly negatively
correlated with job satisfaction.

Couger and Zawacki (I98I) used Hackman and Oldham's model to examine
the effects of job characteristics on job satisfaction of
programmer/analysts. They conducted a large sample survey with 1000
programmers and analysts at many companies and government agencies. They
found that characteristics of the job, as measured by the job's motivating
potential, correlated positively with job satisfaction.



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The job satisfaction literature identifies several factors that are
determinants of satisfaction in programmer/analysts including
characteristics of their job and characteristics of their relationship with
others in the organization. The structured methods literature provides
insight into how the methods are used and how they might affect the jobs and
the interactions of programmer/analysts. In the next section, these two
areas will be drawn on to develop a model of how the use of structured
methods affects the job satisfaction of programmer/analysts.

THEORETICAL MODEL

Figures 1 and 2 present the theoretical model that relates the use of
structured methods to job satisfaction. In Figure 1, the independent
variable - the use of structured methods - is hypothesized to have an
overall positive effect on the principal dependent variable - the job
satisfaction of programmer/analysts. This effect can be best explained by
examining the effects of the independent variable on a set of intervening
variables - role conflict, role ambiguity, task achievement, skill variety,
task identity, and autonomy - which have been shown to be related to job
satisfaction in other studies. This research will show that these variables
are significantly affected by the introduction of structured methods and
that they are significantly related to job satisfaction in
programmer/analysts. Figure 2 relates the independent variable to two
performance variables - the productivity of programmer/analysts and the
quality of their work. It is hypothesized that the use of structured
methods will positively affect these performance variables, but that this
will have no significant effect on job satisfaction. This section describes



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USE OF
STRUCTURED
METHODS



ROLE
CONFLICT



ROLE
AMBIGUITY



TASK
ACHIEVEMENT



SKILL
VARIETY



TASK
DENTITY



AUTONOMY




FIGURE 1: HYPOTHESIZED EFFECTS OF STRUCTURED
METHODS ON JOB CHARACTERISTICS AND JOB SATISFACTION



the dependent variable, the independent and intervening variables, the
research hypotheses, and the environmental variables. The environmental
variables measure factors that could affect the validity of the model.

Dependent Variables

Job satisfaction of programmer/analysts is the main dependent variable
in the model. Locke defines job satisfaction as "a pleasurable or positive



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ns



USE OF

STRUCTURED

METHODS



PRODUCTIVITY



JOB
SATISFACTION



QUALITY



ns



FIGURE 2: HYPOTHESIZED EFFECTS OF STRUCTURED
METHODS ON PERFORMANCE AND JOB SATISFACTION



emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one's job or job experience
(Locke, 1976, page I3OO)." In the job satisfaction literature, it has been
related strongly (negatively) to turnover and absenteeism and less strongly
(positively) to performance.

Although job satisfaction will be the focus of our investigation, it
will also be valuable to examine the effects of the introduction of
structured methods on other dependent variables. The literature on
structured methods claims that their use improves the performance of
programmer/analysts. There are two main aspects of performance that can be
examined - the effects of structured methods on the quality of work done by
programmer/analysts and their effects on the productivity of
programmer/analysts .

These dependent variables will not be emphasized in our study for two
reasons. First, there is little dispute that using structured methods
improves the quality of systems and that it improves the productivity of
programmer/analysts. Second, there is a great deal of dispute about how to
measure program quality and programmer productivity. This will negatively



Page 10



affect the credibility of any results obtained in this area.

Independent Variable

The use of structured methods is the independent variable in the model.
We will define structured methods as a set of procedures that describe how
to develop business application systems. They include a language for
representing how a system functions and a set of guidelines for using the
language for systems analysis, design and programming. The language is used
to describe how the business functions before the introduction of a computer
system, how the business will function after the system is developed, and
how the system itself functions. It is generally made up of a set of
diagrams that describe functional and data hierarchies, and data flows.

The guidelines describe how to get information about the business from
the system user, how to describe to the user what the system will do, and
how to describe the modules and data structures that make up the system. In
some cases, the methods are supported by automated tools that aid in the
generation of the diagrams, check the consistency of the diagrams, and
generate code from the lowest level of the diagrams.

There are several examples of structured methods that have been
advocated by various groups. One example is the data structure approach
developed by Michael Jackson (1975)' Data structure diagrams are used to
describe the data being used by the business and to describe the business'
data needs. The system structure is built around the data structure.
Jackson's method as well as three other development methods are described in
a recent article by Bergland (I98I). Exxon has enhanced the Jackson
approach and added more specific guidelines and automated aids. They call
the analysis method SSA and the design and programming method PST. Other



Page 11



examples include the PRIDE/ASDM method described by Canning (I98I), which
consists of a nine phase development methodology supported by automated
aids, Softec's SADT (Ross, 1977). and the group of structured methods
developed and marketed by Yourdon (1975) •

Automated programming aids (e.g., screen formatters), programming
methods (e.g., structured programming), and analysis methods (e.g.,
information analysis), would not be included in the above definition of
structured methods. These development aids do not meet the requirements
described above.

There are several reasons for choosing the use of structured methods,
as defined above, as the independent variable. First, structured methods
are currently used by many organizations. This facilitates the selection of
a site and also makes the results relevant to many people. Second, they
have a large effect on the jobs performed by programmer/analysts. They
cause changes in the analysis, design, and coding phases. This should make
it easier to detect changes in job satisfaction. Third, they are
controversial. Based on the research of Kraft (1977) and Greenbaum (1979).
we could argue that the use of structured methods de-skills
programmer/analysts and reduces their job satisfaction. Based on the cases
discussed above, we could argue that the use of structured methods
facilitates systems development, reduces role conflict and ambiguity, and
leads to an increase in job satisfaction.

intervening Variables

The literature on job satisfaction identifies a number of variables as
determinants of job satisfaction. Some of these variables should also be
affected by the introduction of structured methods. We will call them

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intervening variables. They allow us to better understand how the use of
structured methods leads to changes in job satisfaction. The six variables
are described below.

Rol e conf 1 i ct - Role conflict is "the degree of incongruity or
incompatibility in the expectations or requirements communicated to a focal
person (Bostrom, I98O, page 92)." in jobs that require worl


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Online LibraryDavid K GoldsteinThe effects of structured development methods on the job satisfaction of programmer/analysts : a theoretical model → online text (page 1 of 2)