An investigation of rater bias in self report ratings of job characteristics following planned job redesign



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Many approaches to work redesign use self-report measures to evaluate the impact of planned changes in job activities. Howard and his colleagues (Howard and Dailey, 1979; Howard, Schmeck, and Bray, 1979) found that self-report measures may be contaminated by an instrumentation effect known as response shift bias. In light of this finding the present research had two primary goals. First, the possibility that the measurement of task characteristics may be biased by a "response shift" after a work redesign intervention was investigated in a controlled laboratory experiment. Second, the utility of a new approach (retrospective Pre-tests) to measuring change in an organization was considered. An experiment was conducted using U& undergraduates at the University of Houston. The subjects worked at two tasks (unenriched and enriched) designed in accordance with the Hackman and Oldham (1975) job characteristics model. Although the results indicate that the use of retrospective Pre-measures was not confounded with the experimental treatments, there was only limited support for the existence of a response shift in measurement of job characteristics. The Hackman and Oldham model, however, received strong support from this study. A number of problems in the present study that could have prevented a response shift from occurring are discussed. It is proposed that the problems with the current study would be corrected by the use of a field setting. It is recommended, then, that given the nature of the problems of this study plus the methodological soundness and ease of administration of the retrospective. Pre-tests that future research be conducted in field settings to determine if response shift bias can compromise the existing literature on job enrichment.



Work design