Unexpected Effects: The Dual Effects of Prevalent Work Characteristics on Goal Accomplishment and the Moderating Role of Proactivity
The present study addressed the issue of the inability of current job design models to account for some of the complexities associated with prominent job characteristics (e.g., autonomy, task variety, and interdependence) by examining the effects of these work characteristics on employee goal accomplishment from the perspective of a new conceptual model: the opposing processes model. Specifically, this research proposed intrinsic motivation and interruptions as opposing mechanisms in the work characteristic-work performance relationship, where the positive effect of one (i.e., intrinsic motivation increasing effort and/or desire to reach one’s goal) would be counteracted by the negative effect of the other (i.e., interruptions impeding goal accomplishment). Based on this model, it was also hypothesized that an employee’s personal characteristics would play a significant role in achieving positive work performance outcomes. In particular, it was proposed that proactive personality would moderate both the relationship between these work characteristics and the number of interruptions experienced by employees and the effects interruptions can have on employee performance. These hypotheses were tested using a within-person approach. A sample of 169 full time employees completed a measure of proactive personality as well as daily surveys measuring perceptions of work characteristics, motivation, interruptions, and goal attainment. Results were varied. Several job characteristics including job autonomy, task variety, and problem solving were positively related to intrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation was positively related to goal attainment. Additionally, task variety, interdependence, and skill variety were positively related to external interruptions. External interruptions were not related to goal attainment, but internal interruptions were found to have a significant negative relationship with goal attainment. The majority of job characteristics (job autonomy, skill variety, complexity, and problem solving) were not related to goal attainment. Finally, proactive personality did not moderate the relationship between job characteristics and interruptions or the relationship between interruptions and goal attainment. These findings provide some support for the opposing processes model and may inform job design models and related practical applications, as they reveal more about the potential advantages and disadvantages associated with prominent work characteristics.