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BRM 1 - Research Method Case Study

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EDWARD E. LAWLER, III AND LYMAN W. PORTER' The Effect of Performance on Job Satisfaction THE HUMAN RELATIONS movement with its emphasis on good inter- personal relations, job satisfaction, and the importance of informal groups provided an important initial stimulant for the study of job attitudes and their relationship to human behavior in organizations. Through the thirties and forties, many studies were carried out to determine the correlates of high and low job satisfaction. Such studies related job satisfaction to seniority, age, sex. education, occupation, and income, to mention a few. Why this great interest in job satisfac- tion? Undoubtedly some of it stemmed from a simple desire on the part of scien- tists to learn more about job satisfaction, but much of the interest in job satisfac- tion seems to have come about because of its presumed relationsliip to job per- formance. As Brayfield and Crockett have pointed out, a common assumption that employee satisfaction directly affects performance permeates most of the writings about the topic that appeared during this period of two decades.^ Statements such as the following characterized the literature: "Morale is not an abstraction; rather it is concrete in the sense that it directly affects the quality and quantity of an individual's output," and "Employee morale—reduces turnover—cuts down absenteeism and tardiness; lifts production."^ It is not hard to see how the assumption that high job satisfaction leads to high performance came to be popularly accepted. Not only did it fit into the value sys- tem of the human relations movement but there also appeared to be some research data to support this point. In the Western Electric studies, the evidence from the Relay Assembly Test Room showed a dramatic tendency for increased employee productivity to be associated with an increase in job satisfaction. Also, who could deny that in the Bank Wiring Room there was both production restriction and mediocre employee morale. With this background it is easy to see why botli social scientists and managers believed that if job dissatisfaction could be reduced, the human brake on production could be removed and turned into a force that would increase performance. " Associate Professor of Administrative Sciences and Psychology at Yale University, and Professor of Administration and Psychology, University of California, Irvine. 1 Arthur H. BrayEeld and Walter H. Crockett, "Employee Attitudes and Employee Per- formance," Psychological Bulletin, LII {September, 1955), 396-424. 2 Ibid. 20
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Symposium: Hujnan Behavior in Organization / 21 Previous Research But does the available evidence support the belief tliat high satis- faction will lead to high performance? Since an initial study, in 1932, by Kom- hauser and Sharp, more than thirty studies have considered tlie relationship be- tween these two variables.^ Many of the earlier studies seemed to have assumed implicitly tliat a positive relationship existed and that it was important to demon- strate that it in fact did exist. Little attention was given to trying to understand
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