Title: An investigation of the work characteristic composition in blue-collar, white-collar, and knowledge work

Authors: Mario G. Beruvides, C. Patrick Koelling

Addresses: Department of Industrial Engineering, Texas Tech University, Box, 43061, Lubbock, Texas 79409-3061, USA. Industrial and Systems Engineering Department, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, Virginia 24061, USA

Abstract: This research study investigated eight specific work characteristics (outputs, inputs, work type, discretion level, work pursuit level, level of endeavour, decision type and maturity level), on three sub-populations of workers (production personnel, office/secretarial personnel, and university engineering professors). Thirty-one production personnel from two organisations located in the eastern part of the USA were used for the first group (B group). The second group (W group) comprised five office/secretarial personnel from a university engineering department. The third group (K group) was made up of six engineering professors from three separate universities located in the eastern and mid-western USA. The purpose of this research was to validate a specific work model (B/W/K). The design used stratified sampling. A modified chi-squared (contingency table) statistical methodology was used to analyse the data. The work definitions postulated by the B/W/K work model are supported by the research findings of this study. Specifically, four of the eight work characteristics (outputs, inputs, work type, and discretion level) of the work definitions are strongly supported by the results (p value << 0.001). The remaining four characteristics (pursuit level, endeavours, decision type and maturity level) show strong results (some p values <<0.001), but some aspects of the sub-classifications of the work characteristics are questionable.

Keywords: knowledge work; white-collar work; work measurement; work analysis; work characteristics.

DOI: 10.1504/IJHRDM.2001.001011

International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management, 2001 Vol.1 No.2/3/4, pp.283-303

Available online: 18 Aug 2003 *

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