Question Christine Business & Management

Job Characteristic Models and Motivation

Compare Hackman and Oldham's job characteristic model with other motivation theories.

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Hackman and Oldham (1975) proposed that in order for a job role to motivate an employee it must incorporate a number of distinct features including a well-defined task identity, allowing an employee the opportunity to utilise a number of different skills as suited to their personal skill set, offer the employee some measure of autonomy or personal control over the job, and also offer an employee feedback on performance. These principles have continued to inform the discussion on motivational theory in the workplace for many years, and can be compared to other motivational frameworks which offer guidance on how best an organisation can motivate its employees such as McGregor’s (1960) Theory X and Theory Y. McGregor suggests that the way in which line managers treat their employees is integral to overall levels of employee motivation. Theory X managers who are dictatorial and authoritarian are unlikely to motivate and inspire their employees. Theory X builds on the assumption that employees are fundamentally lazy and do as little work as possible which is why it is necessary to be authoritarian. Conversely, Theory Y encourages managers to adopt a participative approach whereby employees have far more involvement in their job role and will seek responsibility as well as offering innovative solutions to their workplace problems. The principal similarities between the models of McGregor and Hackman and Oldham are that if employees are matched to a job role and function which suits them they are likely to perform well, however, it is the responsibility of immediate line managers to provide an environment conducive to this. The main difference is in the attitude of the employee, who under McGregor's theory may not necessarily be committed to their role.


Hackman, J. R., and Oldham, G. R., (1975) Development of the job diagnostic survey. Journal of Applied Psychology, 60(2), 159-185.

McGregor, D., (1960) The human side of enterprise. New York: McGraw-Hill.