In the recent years since the turn of the century, companies have found themselves in an economy heavily affected by globalization, an economy in which knowledge and information are indispensible elements in order to succeed. The importance of intellectual capital has increased to the point of being one of the most valuable assets that must be better understood in order to be developed. From such a perspective, human resources and their management now occupy a privileged place in business. The impact of human resource management is generally measured by the individual performance of each employee that, in turn, has a quantifiable impact upon the overall organizational performance.
Performance is a complex notion that is ever-present in the secondary literature related to organizations, and it occupies, perhaps, the predominant place in the day-to-day practice of actual companies. Numerous studies highlight the pertinence of linking work related performance with another important concept for companies; that is, satisfaction at work. A large empirical database of evidence shows that satisfaction and performance at work are indeed factors in a complex cause and effect relationship. As part of the research conducted on the relationship between employee satisfaction, attitudes toward work and organizational performance, the study before you has two objectives. The first is to analyse the mechanisms that create and sustain employee satisfaction at work (determinants and aspects), and secondly, to evaluate if the cause and effect relationship between employee satisfaction and individual performance so evident in existing literature is genuinely quantifiable and, therefore, significant.
The relationship between satisfaction and performance has been for many decades the object of in-depth and disparate studies in Human Resource Management (HRM). The review of the current literature will be presented in three distinct parts. The first and second parts will be devoted, respectively, to the concepts of job satisfaction and job performance at work. The last part will examine the causal interrelationship between these two variables and thus lay the groundwork for the theoretical framework of our study.
Review of the Secondary Literature regarding Employee Satisfaction
Job satisfaction is one of the most incontestable and highly valued concepts in Human Research Management. It is equally important as a dependant variable and as an explicative factor of a heterogeneous group of attitudes and behaviours (Brief, 1998; Judge & al., 2001). The most often used definition in the field of research on the particular concept of satisfaction is the one provided by Locke: "an agreeable or positive emotional state derived from an evaluation made by a person about his work or his work experience" (Locke, 1976, pg. 1300). From this consensual definition, we extract the implicit idea by which thoughts and emotions both play an important role in the perception of satisfaction that an employee derives from his work. However, considering job satisfaction to be only a purely emotional outcome brings about numerous questions, specifically, opposing voices that decry the definition proposed by Locke as being insufficient and a paradoxical minefield (Brief, 1998: 85-118; Weiss, 2002).
For many authors and researchers such as Weiss (2002) and Greenberg (2008), job satisfaction describes the positive or negative attitude of a person regarding his employment and work environment. It is customary, therefore, to identify the different components of attitude in order to facilitate research studies. The current literature mentions a number of elements that all refer to job satisfaction, among which we find: remuneration, recognition, supervision, job security, and opportunities for career advancement (Weiss & al., 1967). Since job satisfaction stems from both job responsibilities and type of work occupied (Weaver, 1980), many factors could explain the difference between the levels of satisfaction among employees.
PREVIOUS HISTORY OF JOB SATISFACTION
Organizational literature distinguishes, on average, three to four principal case histories regarding job satisfaction. By "case histories" of job satisfaction, we understand these to be the combination of elements and factors that influence either satisfactory or unsatisfactory experience at work.
Influences related to personality
The majority of research studies on the influence of personality on job satisfaction, suggests a relationship that is statistically significant. Staw and Ross (1985) suggest that the level of employee satisfaction tends to remain fixed regardless of whatever job or organizational changes occur. Although there are those who are critical of these studies such as Davis-Blake and Pfeffer (1989), a body of empirical evidence indicates that the differences in employee job satisfaction can be explained, to a certain extent, by the employees' personality or their predisposition to the demands of the task (House, Shane & Herold, 1996). Considering the above, we propose the following hypothesis:
[H.sub.1]: The personality of employees influences their perception of job satisfaction
Influences related to the work environment
Not surprisingly, Ghazzawi (2008) suggests that one of the most important determinants of job satisfaction is the very nature of the work. Hence, organizational literature indicates that many factors such as the physical work environment, the quality of interactions between colleagues, as well as the way in which the organization treats its employees all influence job satisfaction. Judge and Church (2000) indicate that the nature of the work is what is ultimately identified as the most important factor when evaluating the various particularities affecting employees. Considering the above, we propose a second hypothesis:
[H.sub.2]: The nature of the work influences the employee's job satisfaction
There are influences that an individual or a group brings to the attitudes and/or behaviours of a person (George & Jones, 2008, pg. 87). In this case, we intend that the colleagues at work, groups of people that the employee meets, as well as the culture in which the employee "grew" or evolved all fully contribute toward influencing the amount of satisfaction held by the employee (George & Jones, 2008).
It is important to emphasize the impact of culture as part of the social aspects that affect job satisfaction, including the cultural dimensions proposed by Hofstede (1980). For example, employees working in countries such as the United States, Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands where individualism is greater, will be more predisposed to be satisfied within the framework of stressful jobs that are also based on performance as opposed to those who have...