International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 2

By Jay M. Shafritz | Go to book overview

critically review the essential functions of each job to ensure compliance.


Job Design in the Public Sector

Job design in the public sector has its origins in the Scientific Management School. While building an efficient workforce certainly played a large part in job design, other overriding factors such as the protection of government employees from undue political influence, guarding against corruption, and neutrality must be included with those values used in the private sector. Job design is the basis for the classification processes known as civil service or merit systems. Civil service systems were designed to be efficient and effective while maintaining a neutral stance in implementing policy.

Job design in the public sector has remained entrenched in the scientific management approach. While it has been subject to some of the same changes that the private sector has, human resources have still focused on the technical aspects of managing positions. The issue of maintaining a neutral workforce has been used to preserve a civil service system, with some modifications mandated by legislation. Job design in the public sector, however, is currently under attack. These same systems that were thought to be efficient and effective are now seen as being overregulated and obstacles to responsive government and a highly productive workforce. The issue of management flexibility, the move toward the downsizing of organizations, both public and private, along with the concomitant reinvention movement are forcing government to review its approach to job design. Not since the early days of civil service reform have governments been under such pressure to reevaluate the way in which government work is performed.


Job Design in the Future

Work and worker expectations are continually evolving and so is job design. The early 1900s brought about an industrial model that focused on work tasks. In the middle of the twentieth century, a second element, worker needs, was included as a determinant for structuring jobs. Now as the twenty-first century is fast approaching, a third element, technology, is becoming a major factor. The "information super highway" is the road on which all workers will have to travel regardless of the level of the position within the organization.

In today's workplace, all three elements must be present and all are constantly being redefined. A litigation explosion, especially in the area of employee rights, has created a number of policies. Legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act has forced a reevaluation of job tasks. Other laws and court decisions have struck down mandatory retirement, forced employers to provide family leave, enforced or altered affirmative action plans, and mandated (in areas of public safety) or allowed drug testing, to name a few.

The changing composition of the workforce combined with the restructuring of organizations are forcing a reevaluation of not just jobs but of the workplace as well. By most accounts, the workforce in the next decade will be more diverse, mobile, better educated, and technologically savvy. Organizations designed to suit the baby boomers will not fit those from generation X. For those fed on a diet of quality of life issues and growing up in an age of fax machines, cellular telephones, electronic mail, and a global economy, flexibility within and among jobs will no longer be an expectation, but a demand.

SHERRY S. DICKERSON


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Ban, Carolyn, and Norma M. Riccucci, eds. 1991. Public Personnel Management: Current Concerns, Future Challenges. White Plains, NY: Longman.

Cayer, N. Joseph, 1986. Public Personnel Administration in the United States, 2nd ed. New York: St. Martins.

Hyde, Albert C. 1983. "Placing the Individual into the Organization". In Jack Rabin et al., eds., Handbook of Public Personnel and Labor Relations. New York: Marcel Dekker.

National Commission on the State and Local Public Service, 1993. Hard Truths/Tough Choices: An Agenda for State and Local Reform. Albany, NY: Rockefeller Institute of Government.

National Performance Review, 1993. From Red Tape to Results: Creating a Government That Works Better and Costs Less. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.

JOB SATISFACTION. A personal evaluation of an aspect of the work situation such as liking or being satisfied with one's job.


Historical Overview

Since the advent of the Human Relations School of Management in the 1930s, the concept of job satisfaction has been the subject of great attention by academics, business managers, government personnel, and the media. In fact, many observers suggest that job satisfaction has received more attention from scholars in the organizational sciences than any other topic. By 1976, Edwin Locke ( 1976) estimated that approximately 3,350 manuscripts had been written on the topic. Certainly this number has increased substantially through the 1980s and 1990s.

One of the major themes in this vast literature on job satisfaction is that the morale of employees represents an important factor of organizational life, which is predictive of employee behavior and organizational outcomes. It is either explicitly stated or implicitly assumed that high levels of job satisfaction bring about high levels of individual

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International Encyclopedia of Public Policy and Administration - Vol. 2
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