Theories on Job Design


Job design is a branch of business science that attempts to understand the factors that go into creating a job position and how they might be optimized. Achieving the right kind of fit for the right kind of worker is a vital concern in today's business world, where specialization is more common. In many cases jobs may be designed in such a way that they complement the skill sets of a certain type of optimal worker.

Scientific Management

Scientific management was an early school of thought in the study of business that was most closely associated with the work of Frederick Taylor. Experts who followed these principles attempted to find the most efficient way to accomplish any task. This meant incorporating precise steps into any job design. This is less popular today as it often alienates workers in exchange for only small productivity gains.

Human Relations

The human relations theory of job design focuses on the ways in which social factors can motivate a worker and improve his efficiency. Experts in this field attempt to discover ways in which they can improve the social well being of the worker at the workplace. They often emphasize the importance of putting workers in teams and having managers who delegate some of their responsibility. Jobs, they believe, should be designed around social activities.


Those who follow the principles of a sociotechnical workplace greatly emphasize on the role of technology in a business's success. These individuals believe that by designing work positions around certain technologies it is possible to optimize their use. This optimization does not simply involve placing the most qualified people in place to use the technology, but in centering their social arrangements around the technology. By designing work groups around new technologies, the theory goes, it is possible to make their successful implementation more likely.


Motivational job design often focus on worker expectations and compensation. Depending on how a job is designed it will either demand more of a worker or less in terms of her time or effort. This theory holds that in order to properly motivate workers with more difficult job designs, it will be necessary to increase their compensation. To improve motivation, therefore, a business will either have to decrease job design difficulty or increase the workers' level of compensation.

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