Executive summary of my PhD thesis

Four main research objectives were studied in this dissertation. In the first chapter, the theoretical underpinnings for these research questions were elaborated upon in a literature review, followed by four empirical chapters. First, generalizability and relevance of the Triple-Match Principle (TMP; de Jonge & Dormann, 2006) in the technology sector was investigated. The TMP proposes that the strongest, interactive relationships between job demands and job resources are observed when job demands, job resources and outcomes are based on qualitatively identical dimensions (i.e. cognitive, emotional, or physical). Results from a cross-sectional study among 1533 employees in chapter 2 and a two-wave longitudinal study among 720 employees in the technology sector in chapter 4 largely confirmed the TMP in the technology sector. Second, the balance principle was investigated in the technology sector. The balance principle proposes that a balanced mixture of job demands and matching job resources is associated with positive employee well-being outcomes. Cross-sectional results in chapter 3 provided partial support in a sample of 207 informatics, but no longitudinal evidence was found in chapter 4 in a sample of 720 employees in the technology sector. Third, the compensation principle was investigated in the technology sector. The compensation principle states that the negative effects of job demands can be best compensated by matching job resources. Both cross-sectional and longitudinal findings largely supported the compensation principle in chapters 2 and 4. Fourth, the role of personal characteristics on the relations between work characteristics and job strain was studied in a two-wave panel study among employees in the technology sector (n = 711). Results in chapter 5 revealed that emotional job demands were least likely to result in emotional exhaustion when employees were provided with high emotional job resources and scored high on emotional support seeking. In the final chapter, the empirical findings of this dissertation are briefly summarized. The strengths and limitations of this dissertation, and directions for future research are outlined from a theoretical and practical perspective.Image

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Informatics’ cognitive well-being

This study was the first study I conducted for my PhD project. It ended up being chapter 3. The data were collected by a master student who was working on her master thesis. Even before I started working as a PhD-student and research assistant, we were introduced and she was kind enough to add a number of items to the questionnaire she was going to distribute for her master thesis research anyway. Great way to collect data!

I presented a previous draft of this paper at the Work, Stress & Health Conference, Washington, DC in 2008 and the final paper was published in Stress and Health in 2008.

The study was, like the rest of my PhD research, framed within the Demand-Induced Strain Compensation (DISC) model, developed by Jan de Jonge and Christian Dormann.

The study investigates the issue of match between job demands and job resources in the prediction of employees’ cognitive well-being. Job demands and job resources, as well as job related strains (and concepts concerned with positive well-being), are not one-dimensional concepts. At a basic level they comprise physical, cognitive and/or emotional components. The triple match principle proposes that the strongest, interactive relationships between job demands and job resources are observed when job demands, job resources and strains are based on qualitatively identical dimensions. In this study, we specifically hypothesize that cognitive job resources are most likely to moderate the relationship between cognitive job demands and cognitive outcomes. Two measures of cognitive well-being were included: learning motivation and professional efficacy. Using a web-based questionnaire, data were collected in a sample of 207 informatics. Results partially confirm our hypotheses both in terms of main and in terms of interaction effects.

Informatics with high cognitive job demands have a higher feeling of competence than informatics with low cognitive job demands. This effect is stronger when matching high cognitive job resources are available. These findings are in line with earlier research on the interaction effects in the prediction of employees’ cognitive well-being at work.

Van de Ven, B., Vlerick, P., & de Jonge, J. (2008). The interplay of job demands, job resources and cognitive outcomes in informatics. Stress and Health, 24, 375-382.

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First publication …

Determinants of  older and younger workers’ job satisfaction and organisational commitment in the contrasting labour markets of Belgium and Sweden.

I coauthored this study during my first job as a scientific employee at the Department of Personnel Management and Work and Organizational Psychology. For about 3 months I worked as a researcher for the PSYCONES-project (PSYchological CONtracts across Employment Situations) that was supported by a grant from the European Union under supervision of Prof. Dr. Rita Claes. As this was my first academic job and my first scientific publication, it proved a great learning experience.

The study appeared in Ageing and Society in 2008.

Starting point of the study was the observation that promoting the retention of older workers is high on the agenda of governments, employers, unions and the media. However, as older workers have to work longer, it seems inevitable and necessary that they do so in a satisfied and committed way. What factors keep older workers satisfied and committed at work? Do these factors differ from younger workers? And does the labor market (favorable versus  unfavorable) matter? To answer these questions this study contrasted samples of older (50+) and younger workers (-25) in a favorable (Sweden) and unfavorable labor market (Belgium). Data were collected during 2003-2004 as part of a larger study (PSYCONES).

The core research question is whether the factors influencing satisfaction and commitment are different for the two age groups, after controlling for country, gender, education level, employment sector, supervisory position, and the employee’s financial contribution to the household. The predictors included workers’ self-reports of skill discretion, organizational fairness , and perceived job insecurity. Skill discretion is the range of skills used on the job. Organizational fairness refers to the fairness of the material outcomes of work (distributive justice), of the procedures used to determine the distribution of outcomes (procedural justice), and of inter-personal treatment (interactional justice). Job insecurity is a subjective estimate of one’s chances of losing one’s job.

Hierarchical linear regression analyses revealed that, across age groups, skill discretion and organizational fairness predicted both job satisfaction and organizational commitment. For older workers there was a negative impact of perceived job insecurity on job satisfaction and organizational commitment. For older workers there was a negative impact of perceived job insecurity on job satisfaction and organizational commitment. The national context only affected younger workers. In the unfavorable Belgian labor market, they were more satisfied and committed to their organization.

To conclude: do different factors influence older and younger workers’ job satisfaction and organizational commitment? Are different models required? The answer is ‘partly no’, given the cross-age positive effects of skill discretion and organizational fairness, and ‘partly yes’, given both the negative effect of perceived job insecurity on older workers in both countries, and the inverse effect for younger workers in Belgium.

Claes, R. & Van de Ven, B. (2008). Determinants of  older and younger workers’ job satisfaction and organisational commitment in the contrasting labour markets of Belgium and Sweden. Ageing and Society, 28, 1093-1112.

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Hello world!

Welcome to my Blog. In the following weeks I will summarize my research papers here and start blogging on present and future research projects and papers.

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