Participative Management and Job Satisfaction: Lessons for Management Leadership

Article excerpt

Introduction

One of the leading challenges in public management has been implementing effective human capital strategies to enhance government performance and accountability. As a result of the emphasis on performance and results-oriented government services, researchers in public administration and government agencies have stressed effective human resources management strategies such as job satisfaction, team empowerment, participative management, and strategic planning (Noer 1993; deLeon and Taher 1996; DeSantis and Durst 1996; Rago 1996; Ting 1996; MSPB 1998a, b; GAO 1999).

For years, researchers (Brayfield and Crockett 1955; Petty, McGee, and Cavender 1984; Iaffaldano and Muchinsky 1985) have disputed the extent to which increased job satisfaction leads to improved performance. Iaffaldano and Muchinsky (1985) conclude that the relationship has been only weakly manifested. Brayfield and Crockett (1955) conclude there is no evidence of a relationship between job satisfaction and performance. On the other hand, based on a meta-analysis, Petty, McGee, and Cavender (1984) demonstrate a strong relationship between job satisfaction and performance. Despite researchers' disagreement about the relationship between job satisfaction and productivity (Brayfield and Crockett 1955; Petty, McGee, and Cavender, 1984; Iaffaldano and Muchinsky 1985), studies reveal that satisfied employees are more likely to have low absenteeism and turnover (Carsten and Spector 1987; Locke 1976; Tett and Meyer 1993; Hackman and Oldham 1975; Farrell and Stamm 1988; Brooke and Price 1989; Barling, Wade, Fullagar 1990; Kemery et al. 1985; Kemery, Mossholder, and Bedeian 1987; Pierce, Rubenfeld, Morgan 1991; Eby et al. 1999).

With respect to organizational performance and individual productivity, absenteeism and retention are significant targets for current human resource management in both the private and public sectors (Carsten and Spector 1987; Locke 1976; Eby et al. 1999). Specifically, several researchers (Eby et al. 1999; Pierce, Rubenfeld, Morgan 1991; Thomas and Velthouse 1990) have argued that enhancing individuals' perceptions of empowerment and fair treatment may intensify affective reactions toward work and, ultimately, reduce rates of turnover and absenteeism. Given the significant cost of employee absenteeism and turnover for organizational performance, scholars must clearly identify variables such as empowerment, participative management, quality of work life, and the role of managers, that affect job satisfaction in government agencies (Bruce and Blackburn 1992; Rainey 1997).

Several researchers have found that strategic planning has been widely implemented in federal, (1) state, and local governments (Berman and West 1998; Berry and Wechsler 1995). Berman and West (1998) find that strategic planning is the most widely used productivity-improvement strategy in both municipalities and nonprofit organizations. Although there is considerable research showing that participative management positively affects employees' job satisfaction (Drucker 1954, 1974; Likert 1967; Daley 1986; Bernstein 1993), little empirical research has been conducted on the relationship between the participative management of strategic planning processes and employees' job satisfaction in the public sector. Government agencies' widespread use of strategic planning raises a research question regarding the relationship between employees' participation in strategic planning processes and job satisfaction in the public sector.

The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between participatory management in the context of the strategic planning and job satisfaction in local government agencies. This study extends research on the organizational contexts of strategic planning, such as managers' use of a participative management style, employees' participation in strategic planning, supervisors' skill in effective communications, and their consequences for job satisfaction. …