Creating “I-Deal” Jobs … Do Individual Redesign Negotiations Work?

Topic: Job DesignEmployee Satisfaction

Publication: Journal of Organizational Behavior

Article: Beyond top-down and bottom-up work redesign: Customizing job content through idiosyncratic deals (FEB 2010)

Authors: S. Hornung, D. M. Rousseau, J. Glaser, P. Angerer, M. Weigl

Reviewed By: Sarah Teague

Job redesign efforts are undertaken on a daily basis in organizations world-wide. It involves re-evaluating a particular job to determine whether or not steps might be taken in order to improve various outcomes including employee job satisfaction and organizational productivity.

Traditionally, two approaches have dominated the literature: top-down and bottom-up. Job redesign refers to efforts from management (or other organizational authorities) to enhance the intrinsic motivation of the job. Alternatively, job redesign is initiated by the employee and may or may not be legitimately recognized by the employer (i.e.job crafting).

A recent article by Severin, Rousseau, Glaser, Angerer, and Weigl (2010) investigates a middle ground approach involving individual negotiations that they refer to as i-deals. These i-deals are initiated by the employee (as in bottom-up) and authorized by a supervisor (as in top-down). Results show that the extent of i-deals (successful individual negotiations) is positively linked to leader member exchange (LMX) here as a proxy for, job complexity, job control, and work engagement, while negatively linked to work stressors.

In other words, individuals who received approval for i-deals were both happier with and more engaged in their work. Task i-deals can result in beneficial effects for the employee and the organization when done correctly (and fairly across employees), but the authors stress that they should not be viewed as a replacement for traditional top-down redesign efforts that strive to make all jobs meaningful and intrinsically motivating.

Hornung, S., Rousseau, D. M., Glaser, J., Angerer, P., & Weigl, M. (2010). Beyond top-down and bottom-up work redesign: Customizing job content through idiosyncratic deals. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31, 187-215.