Examination of the impact of the changing nature of work on occupations: A longitudinal study
Adams, Ann A.
Quinones, Miguel A.
Doctor of Philosophy
Much has been written about the changing nature of work. However, past research in this area has tended to investigate changes at a very specific or extremely broad level. The literature on the changing nature of work is missing a detailed empirical study that uses the same instrument to examine what people actually do on the job and how that has changed over time. This study uses twenty years of data from the Position Analysis Questionnaire (PAQ) to investigate whether the broad changes that have been postulated in the literature on the changing nature of work are materializing at the job level and whether these changes vary by occupational category. Scores on the 45 PAQ job dimensions were analyzed to examine how work has changed at the job level. The results of this study suggest that workers are expected to demonstrate independence while operating in an increasingly interconnected, interdependent workplace. Workers are expected to be more independent as they take on more responsibility, have greater decision making authority, and have more interaction with customers, the public, and others outside the organization. At the same time, there is greater interdependence in the workplace. The importance of coordination, communication, and personal contact have increased over time. This study demonstrates that many of the broad statements in the literature over-simplify the changes taking place in the world of work. The results show that the pattern of change is very complex and varies by occupational category. However, a number of findings were remarkably consistent across occupations. For example, the extent to which workers are required to perform skilled or technical activities on the job has declined over time. The importance of controlling machines and processes, as well as the use of miscellaneous equipment such as computers, has increased over time. Despite this, the extent to which jobs require personal contact has also increased. The importance of performing information processing activities has declined. Finally, the extent to which jobs involve working in an unpleasant, hazardous, or demanding environment has increased.
Occupational psychology; Psychology; Job analysis; Occupations; Work