Author:Serhan, Carole


Relationships between core job dimensions and employee's motivation, job satisfaction and retention, have been studied for many decades now (Herzberg, 1964; McClelland, 1975; Abraham, 1999; Forgacs, 2009). In today's challenging labor markets, organizations make relentless efforts to explore new ways of maximizing retention. One of the key effects of the present age of globalization and technological progress has been to recognize the importance of fresh graduates' roles in confronting labor market challenges and increasing organizational efficiency and effectiveness.

Hackman & Oldham's Job Characteristics Model (JCM) has identified the role of job enrichment and has stressed the importance of increasing employees' motivation and satisfaction to increase employment retention (Hackman & Oldham, 1975; 1976; 1980). JCM has been recognized as one of the most influential theories on organizational behavior and has facilitated the development of a large body of research into the meaning of work (Fried & Fems, 1987; Taber & Taylor, 1990; Rungtusanatham & Anderson, 1996; Behson, 2010).

However, JCM and its testing instrument, the Job Diagnostic Survey (JDS), are not without limitations. First, the JDS scales do not necessarily exhaust the range of possible job characteristics and dimensions that affect retention. A need for expanding JDS by identifying and including characteristics that are not assessed has been indicated (e.g., Taber & Taylor, 1990). Second, studies testing JCM were mostly conducted in western countries and the need to test the model in other regions has been emphasized (e.g., Abu Elanain, 2009). Finally, not much work has been done on the special group of "fresh" graduates, with respect to their job satisfaction and its relationship with the labor market conditions (e.g., Shierholz et al., 2012).

In view of the above, the development of a reliable tool to assess the job satisfaction and retention of fresh graduates is deemed necessary, with the aim to increase the stay of fresh graduates in their local labor markets. This should help filling the gap in research involving redesigning jobs, while taking into consideration, for the first time, the effect of labor market conditions on fresh graduates' affective and personal work outcomes. In the current paper, a modified and extended version of JDS has been created. Overall, the paper has the following objectives:

(1) To modify the Job Diagnostic Survey by synthesizing additional core job dimensions, psychological states and individual differences, as well as integrating labor market conditions to assess the effect of personal/work outcomes on the retention of fresh graduates.

(2) To test the psychometric properties of the newly developed comprehensive instrument named the Modified Job Diagnostic Survey-for retention (MJDS-R) in order to ensure the use of a reliable and valid tool.


The Job Characteristics Model (JCM) (Hackman & Oldham, 1975; 1976; 1980) focuses on the linkages among three main parts: core job dimensions, psychological states of employees that are affected by these core job dimensions, and the resulting personal and work outcomes. Moreover, JCM includes moderating variables, observing how individual differences among people moderate their work outcomes. In order to test the JCM theory and to assess its constructs, the Job Diagnostic Survey (JDS) was developed (Hackman & Oldham, 1975 & 1980; Oldham et al., 2005). JDS has been used in hundreds of studies and is still one of the most frequently cited instruments in the "Social Sciences Citation Index" for assessing worker perceptions of job characteristics.

However, despite its wide use, the JCM framework has limitations and theoretical gaps. First, its comprehensiveness could be expanded, to assess a broader array of job dimensions. The core job dimensions considered in JCM are mainly recognized as internal to the job itself. Thus, the model does not take into consideration the importance of extrinsic motivation which comes mainly as a result of extrinsic rewards and the social environment of the job (e.g. Need-based Theories). It omits various job dimensions that have been shown to have a significant effect on job satisfaction and retention regardless of job type, such as participation in the setting of goals, growth prospects, working conditions, job security, financial rewards, promotion, work load, physical effort and technology use (e.g., Booth et al., 2002; Limbu et al., 2014; Card et al., 2012; Barr-Anderson, 2011; Dugguh & Dennis, 2014; Laurenza et al., 2018; Thrassou et al., 2018; Vrontis & Christofi, 2019). In addition, the JCM model limits psychological states to experienced meaningfulness of the work, experienced responsibility for the outcomes of the work and knowledge of the actual results of the work activities and does not emphasize on the importance of self-confidence/self-esteem and the prestige inside-outside of employees, which have been found to positively affect job satisfaction (Abraham, 1999; Judge et al., 1998; Alavi & Askaripur, 2003; Shams et al., 2018; Vassou et al., 2019).

Second, JDS does not take into consideration the effect of the labor market conditions on job satisfaction and employment retention (e.g., Theory of Labor Market Segmentation; Reich et al., 1973). Many factors related to the labor market can be explored to this end, including unionization, politics, labor status, geographical location of the job, nature of the job and sector of employment (e.g. private/public) (Cassar, 2010; Serhan et al., 2016).

Third, in regards to individual differences, JDS does not take into consideration the cultural factor, though human behavior at work has been shown to be affected by the differences in values and ethics across national cultures (Hofstede et al., 2010; Komodromos et al., 2019).

Fourth, the model limits the work outcomes and does not take into consideration the commitment to the job which may also come as a result of the critical psychological states (Babin, 1996). Commitment to the job may consequently result in labor market outcomes where labor market embraces satisfied employees who are motivated, show high commitment and thus are retained (Serhan et al., 2016; Nandan et al., 2018).

Fifth, JCM focuses only on employees and does not take into consideration the key difference between a fresh graduate's attitude and an employee's attitude (Jackson & Chapman, 2012). Studies in various countries have shown that fresh graduates mainly suffer from a complexity of work integration. They have been proved to be less loyal and with higher expectations compared to employees and, unlike earlier generations, are always ready to move between jobs until their expectations are met, which makes it harder for employers to retain them (Jackson & Chapman, 2012; Nayebpour & Bokaei, 2019). In order to increase fresh graduates' job satisfaction and commitment, there is a great need for a significantly high level of motivation at various levels (Shujaat et al., 2014). What is more, in some specific fields of study, the educational curriculum of studies does not match the local labor market requirements but instead focuses more on the international labor market requirements, and this has an effect on the retention of fresh graduates (Chakrani, 2012; Leonidou et al., 2018). In fact, two major phenomena nowadays include "Overeducation" (graduates whose educational level exceeds the educational level required in their jobs) and "Horizontal-mismatch" (low fit between educational and occupational fields) (McGuinness, 2006; Mehta et al., 2011; Moore & Rosenbloom, 2016; Pereira et al., 2019).

Finally, various studies have tested and validated JDS in western countries, while many scholars and practitioners stress the need to test and validate the model in other regions and different countries of the world (e.g., Abu Elanain, 2009; Vrontis et al., 2019).

Fresh graduates' retention appears to be affected by five groups of factors: core job dimensions and related psychological states, labor market conditions, individual differences and personal/work outcomes. Therefore, in light of the aforementioned gaps and limitations, JDS is extended and modified in the current study by (1) adding questions in relation to participation, work load, working conditions, physical effort, technology use, promotion and social environment, (2) adding questions in relation to additional critical psychological states, namely self-confidence and prestige inside outside, (3) inserting questions in relation to additional personal/work outcomes ("high commitment with work"), (4) incorporating labor market conditions (geographical location, unionization, labor status, job matching, private and public sector, foreign and national workers, formal and informal jobs, educational and labor market gap) and (5) integrating additional moderating variables related to individual differences, such as age, gender, education, social class and culture. All the above modifications will be incorporated in the newly developed JDS, hereby called "MJDS-R". "MJDS-R" is then to be tested and validated.



The original JDS consists of 83 items (Hackman & Oldham, 1974). Five items were modified in 1987, by Idaszak & Drasgow to avoid reverse-coding which appeared to have caused difficulties in factoring the original JDS (Idaszak & Drasgow, 1987; Idaszak et al., 1988).

The "Modified Job Diagnostic Survey-for Retention" (MJDS-R), developed in the present study, consists of 135 items, which are a combination of the 83 items of the original JDS (Hackman & Oldham, 1974; Idaszak & Drasgow, 1987) and 52 new items developed under the current, integrated modeling framework. The 135 items are classified into five scales, one of which (labor market conditions) is completely new, while the other four include additional items compared to the original JDS, to address issues...

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