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Job Characteristics Model

A Dictionary of Human Resource Management

Edmund Heery,

Mike Noon

Job Characteristics Model (JCM) 

The Job Characteristics Model, developed by organizational psychologists J. Richard Hackman and Greg Oldham, is a normative approach to job enrichment (see job redesign). It specifies five core job dimensions that will lead to critical psychological states in the individual employee. The first three dimensions are:

  1. (a) skill variety (the range of tasks performed),

  2. (b) task identity (the ability to complete the whole job from start to finish), and

  3. (c) task significance (the impact of the job on others).

These three dimensions contribute to the meaningfulness of the work—in other words, the higher the task variety, identity, and significance, the more meaningful the work is to the employee. The fourth job dimension is autonomy (the extent of discretion and freedom an employee has over his or her tasks) and the higher this is, the more the employee feels responsible for the outcome of his or her work. The fifth dimension is feedback (the extent to which the job provides the employee with information about the effectiveness of his or her performance) which allows the employee to appreciate the outcome of his or her efforts. As a consequence of providing positive psychological states, the JCM suggests that positive outcomes will occur for the individual and the organization: high motivation, high-quality performance, high job satisfaction, low absenteeism, and low labour turnover. The model is used to assess the motivational potential of particular jobs and thereby suggest which of these jobs could be redesigned. To do this, a motivational potential score (MPS) is calculated from a questionnaire consisting of the components of the JCM. The score is an index based on the following formula:

MPS = (Skill variety + task variety + task significance)/3) × autonomy × feedback