Effects of Job Specialization and Departmentalization on Job Satisfaction among the Staff of a Nigerian University Library.

Author:Adeyoyin, Samuel Olu


The method of job specialization involves breaking down a task to its lowest level and designing jobs around each part. This creates specialization, expertise, and improved quality. Job specialization design in the workplace is frequently seen where a worker focuses on one specific task and ability during the entire work shift. The task frequently repeats all day long. Because job specialization allows significant expertise build-up in a specific task, the learning and speed of production happen faster. The job does not involve complex processes, so it can be taught faster to new workers. In theory, this approach reduces quality control costs and improves production efficiency (Thibodaux, 2012).

The downside of job specialization tends to be that people can only do one task. They aren't trained to multitask or handle multiple areas of a workplace. As a result, when a critical expertise is lost, the process can suffer. Additionally, workers under job specialization don't have a wide array of applicable skills, so it becomes hard for them to adapt to a new function or need in the organization. As a result, unemployment is a significant problem when a company has to shut down a factory or assembly line. Many of the laid-off workers usually have a hard time adjusting to new occupations.

Specialization refers to individuals and organizations focusing on the limited range of production tasks they perform best. This specialization requires workers to give up performing other tasks at which they are not as skilled, leaving those jobs to others who are better suited for them. An assembly line, where individual workers perform specific tasks in the production process, is the best example of specialization.

Specialization is related to another management concept, division of labour, discussed at great length by Adam Smith, the 18th-century Scottish economist and author of "The Wealth of Nations." Smith famously illustrated the benefits of specialization and a division of labour when describing a pin factory, in which each worker performs a single specialized task. One worker measures wire, another cuts it, one points it, others make the head and so on. Through this process, workers produced thousands more pins than if each worker made whole pins independently. Specialization, as illustrated by Adam Smith's example of the pin factory, allows workers to develop more skill in their specific tasks. Specialization increases output because workers do not lose time shifting among different tasks. Smith also believed that workers with specialties were more likely to innovate, to create tools or machinery to make their tasks even more efficient.

The benefits of specialization extend beyond individual workers as well. Firms that specialize in their particular products can produce larger quantities to sell. Those firms and their employees use the proceeds from the sale of those goods to buy needed goods produced by other workers and companies. While Adam Smith saw the advantages of specialization and division of labour, he also saw a downside to them as well. He feared that monotonous assembly lines in which workers performed single tasks throughout the day could sap their creativity and spirit. He saw education as a remedy and believed that education fostered creativity and innovation in workers.

Karl Marx seized on Smith's concerns. He saw monotonous production tasks, coupled with subsistence wages that do not represent the full value of labour, as factors that increase worker alienation, eventually resulting in a worker-led uprising against the capitalist class.

The division of labour according to Niederhoffer (2011) is the separation of a job up into parts usually performed by different individuals. The division of labour is so common in our society, and so much good comes from it, that we often take its benefits for granted and forget about the harms from not following it. It seems good to gain perspective by starting with some scholarly work from the field, so that basic principles can be considered. He observed that the first division of labor in society came from the separation of work between men and women, where men did work that required larger frames and more strength. If the woman were to do the child bearing, and men to do the heavy hunting, then it also became less frictional for women to handle household chores like cooking, while men made the tools for hunting.

These concepts have now been subsumed in economics as increasing returns to scale, and the great improvement in output or profits that come from continuing until variable costs are more than the marginal costs without regard to the high fixed costs in many processes. The concept has been generalized by growth economists into a beneficent circle. Increasing the division of labor leads to enhanced output from improvements in the productivity of labour. This increases incomes and demand, and leads to larger markets. With larger markets, more division of labour can occur starting the circle over again.

A major reason that specialization works in economics and biology is that everybody is different. Williams (1979) showed that not only does everyone have different degrees of aptitudes, and appearance, morphology and physiology, but that everyone's internal organs are different. These differences lead us to be able to perform different tasks with different degrees of efficiency and productivity, and make the benefits of specialization great even when improvements in machinery are not available.

Job specialization is the degree to which the overall task of the organization is broken down into smaller component parts. It evolved from the concept of division of labour. There are four benefits of specialization: workers will become proficient at their task because it is small and simple, transfer time between tasks may decrease, the more narrowly defined the job is, the easier it is to develop specialized equipment to assist with the job and training costs should be relatively low. Conversely, the main problem with specialization is that workers can become bored and dissatisfied. This can lead to higher absenteeism and lower quality of work. It is also possible to overspecialize.

Because of the drawbacks of specialization, many firms have sought alternative approaches to designing jobs such as job rotation which involves systematically moving employees from one job to another, global connection encourages rotation of workers to new jobs and possible pay raises for each new job they master. Job enlargement gives employees more tasks to perform while job enrichment attempts to increase both the number of tasks a worker does and the control the worker has over the job. It is more comprehensive than job rotation or job enlargement. Job enrichment is based on the two-factor theory of motivation developed by Frederick Herzberg.

Job characteristics approach is an alternative to job specialization that suggests that jobs should be diagnosed and improved along five core dimensions, taking into account both the work system and employee preferences. The five dimensions are skill variety which has to do with the number of things a person does in a job, task identity which shows the extent to which the worker does an identifiable portion of the total job and task significance is the perceived importance of the task. Others are autonomy which shows the degree of control the worker has over how the work is performed and feedback which means the extent to which the worker knows how well the job is being performed.

Departmentalization is the grouping of jobs according to some logical arrangement. As the organization grows in size and complexity, it is no longer possible for one manager to oversee all of the workers, so workers are assigned to new managers based on some overall plan. Most conventional libraries and information centres such as academic, public and special libraries belonging to large organizations also operates this system. Most organizations use multiple bases of departmentalization in different areas and/or at different levels.

Lennick (1995) identified various types of departmentalizations in organizations. They are:

* Functional departmentalization which groups together those jobs involving the same or similar activities. According to him, one of the beauties of the vertical, functional organization is that who you report to and who's the boss is very, very clear. He, however observed that few Japanese companies have ever used functional departmentalization. Instead, most Japanese companies have always used product or customer-based departmentalization.

* Product departmentalization involves grouping and arranging activities around products or product groups.

* Customer departmentalization structures the organization's activities to respond to and interact with specific customers and customer groups.

* Location departmentalization groups jobs on the basis of geographic sites or areas.

In the view of Mutandwa, Gadzirayi, Muzondo & Mutandwa (2007), job satisfaction leads to high job productivity or performance by workers. When an employee is satisfied with what he does, he will in turn give his best toward the attainment of the general goal of the organisation. According to Droussiotis (2004), managers who are successful in motivating employees often provide an environment in which appropriate or adequate incentives are made available for the needed satisfaction of the employee. It is the duty of the management of any organization to create and develop an effective environment in which the employees will be satisfied in order to be more productive. Such satisfaction required from the job in a formal organization is paramount to the worker. Some scholars are of the view that job satisfaction is a work-related positive emotional reaction. They argued that job satisfaction describes how contented an individual is with his job. According to...

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