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Title:The Effect of Symbolic Action on Productivity and Job Satisfaction (Participation)
Author(s):Barczyk, Casimir Chester
Department / Program:Labor and Industrial Relations
Discipline:Labor and Industrial Relations
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Business Administration, Management
Abstract:This study investigates the effect of symbolic action on worker productivity and job satisfaction. Some real consequences of symbolic action include the satisfaction of demands and the motivation of organizational participants. These consequences are due in part because individuals interacting with organizations are uncertain or unable to discern what outcomes they are obtaining and the value of those outcomes.
Using the framework by Dandridge, Mitroff, and Joyce, symbolic action is defined to include material, action, and verbal symbols. In this research, motivational posters and a personalized employee identification badge are material symbols. A discussion between workers and their manager about task-related goals and strategies is an action symbol. A policy statement positively depicting employee participation is a verbal symbol.
This study tests three hypotheses derived from Pfeffer's theory of management as symbolic action. One hundred ninety five upper division business students participated as worker subjects in an experiment using a 2 x 2 x 2 x 3 completely crossed repeated measures factorial design with time as the repeated measure. There were two management types (authoritarian and participative), two symbol types (present and absent), two gender types (males and females), and three measurements collected weekly.
The data generally confirmed all three hypotheses. They provide empirical support for the theory of management as symbolic action. It was specifically found that: (1) A symbolically enriched management approach caused workers to be more productive, job satisfied, motivated, generally satisfied, and committed than a non-symbolically enriched management approach. (2) Workers interpreted symbols of participation as actual participation. As a result, they were as productive with an authoritarian but symbolically enriched management approach as they were with a participative management approach. (3) Workers used symbols to provide meaning to the ambiguity of a participative management approach. As a result, they were more satisfied generally and with their jobs in a participative symbolically enriched setting than in a participative non-enriched setting. (4) There were no differences between males and females in terms of their responsiveness to symbolic action. (5) The effects related to symbolic action on all the dependent variables were consistent over the three time periods and appeared to be enduring.
Issue Date:1987
Description:185 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1987.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8721580
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1987

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