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International differences in job satisfaction: The effects of public service motivation, rewards and work relations

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Purpose ‐ The main purpose of this paper is to explore cross-national differences in job satisfactions and its determinants over time (1989-2005), which, in turn, impact long-term worker productivity and performance. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Utilizing non-panel longitudinal data from the International Social Survey Program on Work Orientations I, II, and III for 1989, 1997 and 2005, various bivariate and multivariate descriptive statistics and ordinary least squared regression analysis are used to explore the relationship between job satisfaction and its key determinants cross-nationally in six countries (West Germany, Great Britain, the USA, Hungary, Norway and Israel). Findings ‐ For all countries, findings clearly show that intrinsic rewards explain the most variance in the respondents' job satisfaction, followed by work relations with management. In contrast, public service motivation-fit (PSM-fit) and work relations with co-workers are found to play a less prominent role in shaping job satisfaction. Additionally, findings show that the above-mentioned determinants of job satisfaction vary by country. Additionally, apart from age, which is found to be a significant antecedent of job satisfaction for 1989, 1997 and 2005 waves, the significance of the personal antecedents tends to vary with each wave. Research limitations/implications ‐ The primary limitations to this research relate to the use of a pre-existing dataset. The measurement of the study variables, particularly job satisfaction and public service motivation (PSM), is constrained by the limited single-item measurement scales used in the surveys. Additionally, the measurement scale of PSM could be more rigorous. Data collected from self-completed survey such as this can also suffer from common method variance; the respondents may have a distorted perception of their organizational conditions. Despite these limitations, this research supports the descriptive literature and empirical studies that look at job satisfaction, PSM, workplace rewards, and interpersonal dynamics. Practical implications ‐ In an increasingly competitive global market, more and more organizations have to ask the difficult question, "How can we get more out of our employees?" However, though there are diverse "quick-fix" methods to achieving rather short-term gains in worker productivity and performance, long-term and enduring improvement requires a strengthening and spreading of core organizational values and beliefs that increase overall worker satisfaction to help create a high engagement and achievement organizational culture. Originality/value ‐ The main contribution of this paper is in looking at cross-national differences in worker satisfaction and its determinants cross-nationally over a 16-year period. Additionally, the paper develops and justifies the use of a new construct, PSM-fit, as an important component to understanding job satisfaction.
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Keywords: Employee attitudes; Employee relations; Job satisfaction; National cultures; Performance management

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2010-11-02

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