The critical review

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Introduction

This report will form a critical review of three selected research articles. It will analyse, evaluate and ultimately critique certain research designs and evaluate their effectiveness in achieving the proposed research aims and objectives. Research objectives including the relevance of research objectives, researcher control of variables, theories or frameworks used, limitations, main findings and future research directions will be analysed in order to accomplish this. The review will analyse the following three articles;

Work - Unit Absenteeism: Effects of satisfaction, commitment, labour market
conditions, and Time (Hausknecht, Hiller & Vance) from the Academy of
Management Journal,

Level of dispersion of satisfaction in teams: Using foci and social context to explain
the satisfaction - absenteeism relationship (Dineen, Noe, Shaw, & Wiethoff) from the
Academy of Management Journal, and

“Taking a sickie”: Job satisfaction and job involvement as interactive predictors of
absenteeism in a public organisation (Wegge, Schmidt, Parkes & van Dick) from the
Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.

The underlying themes that are evident in the three articles are job satisfaction and absenteeism. It should also be noted that the studies in question have been included in scholarly publications after 2005.

Research Design Characteristics

This section of the paper will attempt to define the terminology and ideas used within the reviews. The review will critique the research characteristics and evaluate their effectiveness in achieving the research aims and objectives.

Firstly, the aim is to identify the objective of the research. In highly regarded research, the objective will be very clear and unambiguous so as to avoid any uncertainty in the findings (Zikmund, 2003: 65) Concepts are then presented, laying the underpinning development of hypotheses. Concepts can be defined as a characteristic or generalised idea about a class of objects, attributes, occurrences or processes providing a basic unit for theory development (Cooper & Schindler, 2008: 57). An examination of the theories and frameworks employed within the article will provide further understanding into the inter-relationships and important variables within the studies.

A hypothesis is then formulated as a tentative and conjectural statement designed for empirical testing concerning the relationship between two or more variables (Cooper & Schindler, 2008: 64). These can come from descriptive or relational hypotheses (Coote & Len. 2009: Lecture 2). Variables are identified and classified according to their nature as the researcher observes the hypothesis being tested. These types of variables include: Dependent variables (criterion variables) that have to be predicted or explained, independent variables (explanatory variables) which influence the dependent variable and its value may be altered independently of any other variable. Moderating variables are a type of independent variable that has a considerable effect on the original IV-DV relationship. Finally, mediating variables (or intervening variables) affect or influence a dependant variable (Cooper & Schindler, 2008: 62). Topical scope is concerned with what information is being obtained. Statistical studies are concerned with the breadth of information gathered, rather than the depth (Quantitative data), whilst case studies place more emphasis on gathering detailed information (Qualitative data) (Cooper & Schindler, 2008: 144). Subject perception is another factor that the researcher should be aware of. Subject perception is the participant's awareness in relation to the studies being conducted, and often has dramatic influences on research outcomes (Cooper & Schindler, 2008: 145).

The research design is constructed to include three types of research:

  • Exploratory research is small scale research conducted to clarify and define
    the nature of the problem
  • Descriptive research is designed to quantitatively describe characteristics or
    the level of a phenomenon, and
  • Explanatory research, otherwise known as causal research, describes the
    relationship between to inter-correlated variables) (Zikmund, 2003: 54).

Once the research design has been selected, the reader can than identify the research environment, for example, whether the results were obtained in the field or in a laboratory environment. Furthermore, the reader must distinguish the methods of data collection, whether it is observational studies (watching) or by means of communication processes (the reader questions the subjects and collects their responses through personal or impersonal means). The time dimension is crucial to discerning whether studies are cross sectional (studies are carried out at one point in time) or longitudinal (repeated over an extended period to track changes over time) (Cooper & Schindler, 2008: 144)

Finally, the reader must assess whether the research objectives gave been achieved, and any issues or limitations with the research are recognised and dealt with for future studies.

Summary of Articles

Upon closer inspection of the three articles' research design characteristics, it can be seen that there are many key similarities and differences between the articles in the area of job satisfaction.

In the first article, Hausknecht, Hiller and Vance (2008) investigated the effects of satisfaction, commitment, labour market conditions and time on absenteeism in the workplace. This explanatory study collected data at five points over six years. Social influence theories considered by state that members of a work unit develop homogenous attitudes about their jobs and organization, including shared levels of job satisfaction and organizational commitment. It was evident in the research that job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and local unemployment were time-varying predictors of absenteeism.

A longitudinal time frame for the collection of the responses was used and data was gathered within a large state agency consisting of approximately 12,500 employees located within 115 work units. Researcher control of variables included work unit size and given the nature of the employees' work dummy variables were implemented to represent the work - unit types. The obtained results were in support of the first five hypotheses, however disagreed with hypothesis 6 and 7. Hypothesis 6 and 7 forecasted that job satisfaction and organizational commitment would be related to the rate of change in absenteeism, results revealed that none of the parameters were statistically significant.

Limitations in the research were recognized by the authors including; the call for more extensive tests regarding social and normative factors, the single source of data collection and most importantly, that their longitudinal research design was unsuccessful in testing causality inferences. The authors suggested possible future research into whether group level dynamics, such as cohesiveness or absence culture mediate the effects of unit level shared attitudes. Although the culture - absence relationship has been documented at the individual level, unit-level tests are needed.

In article two, Dinen, Noe, Shaw and Wiethoff (2007) partake in a cross - sectional investigation into the relationship between satisfaction and absenteeism at a team level using social contextual underpinnings to indicate the dispersion of satisfaction. The study builds upon previous theories conducted at the individual level. Initially, the researchers expected these findings to materialise at higher levels of analysis, such as at the team level. This exploratory research sheds light on the job satisfaction and absenteeism relationship through satisfaction focus and the social context in which satisfaction experience is considered.

There were two studies conducted for their research. Firstly, a sample of 450 undergraduate students enrolled in 11 different business administration classes at a large university within the U.S.A. In order to account for work teams in organisational settings, a second study was administrated where 1,457 employees within an automobile manufacturing company were examined.

The controlled variables included team size, gender, ethnic diversity and medium team tenure. Results of the studies led researchers to conclude that mean levels of course or job satisfaction were unrelated to absenteeism when satisfaction dispersion among team members was lower. However, absenteeism and team satisfaction were highly related when dispersion in teams was lower.

Some limitations within studies were identified as; the two samples were extremely diverse, the limited team tenure in study 1 contributed to weaker overall effects and neither study accounted for unintentional absences, for example; legitimate illness. The authors suggested possible future research that investigates specific patterns of social interaction among team members which enhances the understanding of common in-group identity and social support.

In the third article, Wegge, Schmidt, Parkes and van Dick (2007) focused on job involvement and job satisfaction as interactive predictors of absenteeism in a public organisation. The researchers conducted a review of existing literature and identified a requirement for interactive effects of attitudes with different targets such as job involvement. The research design was explanatory (causal), and studies delved into how job satisfaction and job involvement influenced attitudes towards absenteeism.

Studies were conducted in a large federal organisation within Germany, using a cross - sectional time frame design. 498 employees completed the voluntary questionnaire during work hours. Controlled variables were the demographic, job level, (e.g. gender, office tenure) time lost and absence variables.

It was evident that for employees lacking job satisfaction, the impact of job involvement on absenteeism is higher than employees with high job satisfaction. Moreover, previous studies were supported with the finding that interactions between central work attitudes are fundamental predictors of absenteeism. Authors addressed multiple limitations including the incremental variance explained by the interaction terms with respect to absence frequency and time lost absence is rather small. Future research is recommended in the familiarisation of the interactions between job satisfaction and job involvement.

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