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Relational Job Design and the Motivation to Make a Difference. Adam M. Grant amgrant@umich.edu Doctoral Student, Organizational Psychology University of Michigan. Acknowledgements of Impact. Impact Lab students Amy Bass Charlotte Burns Beth Campbell Grace Chen Keenan Cottone

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relational job design and the motivation to make a difference

Relational Job Design and the Motivation to Make a Difference

Adam M. Grant

amgrant@umich.edu

Doctoral Student, Organizational Psychology

University of Michigan

acknowledgements of impact
Acknowledgements of Impact

Impact Lab students

  • Amy Bass
  • Charlotte Burns
  • Beth Campbell
  • Grace Chen
  • Keenan Cottone
  • Christy Flanagan
  • Molly Gannon
  • Alex Jaffe
  • Melissa Kamin
  • Claire Kemerling
  • Emily Kidston
  • David Lapedis
  • Karen Lee
  • Ginelle Nagel
  • Gina Valo
  • Sue Ashford
  • Jane Dutton
  • Richard Hackman
  • Fiona Lee
  • Brian Little
  • Joshua Margolis
  • Andy Molinsky
  • Lou Penner
  • Mike Pratt
  • Rick Price
  • Kathie Sutcliffe
  • Allison Sweet
  • Amy Wrzesniewski
  • Org psych/M&O faculty/students
  • QLIF, May Meaning Meeting
overview
Overview
  • The motivation to make a difference
  • How work contexts motivate people to care about making a difference
  • Field experiment evidence
  • Mechanisms and contributions
the motivation to make a difference
The Motivation to Make a Difference
  • Popular Press
    • Bornstein, 2004; Everett, 1995; May, 2003; Quinn, 2000
  • Organizational Missions
    • Collins & Porras, 1996; Thompson & Bunderson, 2003
  • Diverse Organizational Literatures
    • E.g., Dutton & Ashford, 1993; Marx, 1980; Meyerson & Scully, 1995
recent organizational research
Recent Organizational Research
  • Individual differences perspective on the motivation to make a difference
    • People who see work as calling want to make the world a better place; those who see work as a job/career do not (Wrzesniewski et al., 1997)
    • Benevolent employees are altruistic; entitled employees are more selfish (Huseman et al., 1987)
    • Some employees are self-interested; others are prosocially oriented (Penner et al., 1997; Meglino & Korsgaard, 2004)
beyond individual differences
Beyond Individual Differences
  • Interdisciplinary evidence: Virtually all people have the capacity to care about others
    • Genetic capacity for empathy (Batson, 1991; Eisenberg, 2000)
    • Sociocultural values: benevolence (Schwartz & Bardi, 2001)
    • Natural selection favors helping ingroup (Burnstein et al., 1994)
    • In social and economic dilemmas, people cooperate (Axelrod, 1984) and help at a cost to themselves (Rabin, 1998)
    • People have basic motives to connect with others (Baumeister & Leary, 1995)
work contexts
Work Contexts
  • Beyond “Which people care about others?”
  • To “When, and under what conditions, do people care about others?
  • Can work contexts motivate employees to care about making a positive difference in other people’s lives?
    • Look to the work itself– tasks and jobs
basic units of work
Basic Units of Work
  • Task
    • Assigned piece of work
  • Job
    • Collection of tasks designed to be performed by one employee (Hackman & Oldham, 1976; Griffin, 1987)
  • Definition overlooks relational architecture of jobs
    • Jobs shape opportunities to interact and form connections with others
job design
Job Design
  • Task significance (Hackman & Oldham, 1976)
      • Degree to which work affects the welfare of other people
      • Clues that jobs spark motivation to make a difference
  • What’s missing from task significance
    • How job structures shape opportunities for impact on others
    • How jobs shape connections with these others
relational job design
Relational Job Design
  • Job impact on beneficiaries
    • Domains: psychological, physical, financial
    • Dimensions: magnitude, scope, frequency
    • Regulatory focus: promotion/prevention
  • Contact with beneficiaries
    • Dimensions: frequency, duration, physical proximity, emotional intensity, breadth
  • When jobs are well-designed with attention to their relational properties, employees care about making a difference
predictions
Predictions
  • Jobs spark the motivation to make a difference when they provide opportunities for employees to have impact on, and build relationships with, beneficiaries
    • Job impact on beneficiaries  perceived impact on beneficiaries
    • Contact with beneficiaries  affective commitment to beneficiaries
    • Perceived impact on beneficiaries + affective commitment to beneficiaries = motivation to make a difference
field intervention
Field Intervention
  • Fundraising organization
  • University callers soliciting alumni donations
    • Donations provide student scholarships
    • Callers never meet scholarship students
  • Scholarship student agrees to meet with callers
intervention design
Intervention Design
  • 41 callers
    • 23 male, 18 female
    • Average tenure 9.17 months
  • Conditions stratified by tenure and gender
  • Control condition (n = 23)
    • Never meet student beneficiary
intervention condition
Intervention Condition
  • Intervention condition (n = 17)
    • Callers have ten minutes of contact with the student beneficiary
      • Callers meet in “break room” in groups of 4-8
      • Read a letter from student beneficiary (5 minutes)
      • Structured Q&A session, led by manager, with student beneficiary (5 minutes)
measures
Measures
  • Persistence behavior
    • Minutes on phone
  • Job performance
    • Number of pledges
    • Total donation amount
  • Baseline measures: 2 weeks before intervention
  • Dependent measures: 1 month after intervention
weekly minutes on phone

300

200

100

0

2 weeks before

intervention

One month after

intervention

Weekly Minutes on Phone

Intervention

Control

Cross-sectional analyses

2 weeks before:

no differences

One month after:

Intervention >

t (18.98) = 2.44,

p = .03

Longitudinal analyses

Control:

no differences

Intervention: increased,

t (15) = 4.64,

p < .001

weekly pledges

6.0

5.5

5.0

4.5

\

4.0

3.5

3.0

2.5

2 weeks before

intervention

One month after

intervention

Weekly Pledges

Intervention

Control

Cross-sectional analyses

2 weeks before:

no differences

One month after:

Intervention >

t (39) = 2.13,

p = .04

Longitudinal analyses

Control:

no differences

Intervention: increased,

t (15) = 2.26,

p = .04

weekly donation amount

600

500

400

300

200

100

Weekly Donation Amount

Intervention

Cross-sectional analyses

2 weeks before:

no differences

One month after:

Intervention >

t (23.62) = 3.45,

p = .002

Longitudinal analyses

Control:

no differences

Intervention: increased,

t (15) = 3.45,

p = .004

Control

One month after

intervention

2 weeks

before

intervention

lab experiment
Lab Experiment
  • Editing task to examine mechanisms
    • Varied contact with beneficiaries and task impact on beneficiaries between subjects
    • Participants in the contact + high impact condition spent significantly more time on the task
    • Affective commitment to beneficiaries mediated the effect
conclusion
Conclusion
  • Contributions
    • Job design
    • Relationships as meaning and motivation
    • Self-interest
  • Your feedback on next steps?