, Volume 5, Issue 3-4, pp 70-80

Job autonomy, trust in leadership, and continuous improvement: An empirical study in health care

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Abstract

This research examines the influence of autonomy in day-to-day work on commitment of frontline employees to continuous improvement. Our hypothesized model links the job characteristics theory of work design that associates job autonomy with responsibility for outcomes, and the total quality management perspective that advocates empowering employees in order to generate commitment to continuous improvement. Further, as leadership is known to have a role in shaping job behaviors, and is considered important for the success of total quality management, the influence of trust in leadership on the relationship between job autonomy and commitment to continuous improvement is also examined. We test our hypotheses on data collected from individual employees working for an outpatient health care organization that is applying lean principles for managing and improving work processes. Based on our results, we present implications for organizations implementing continuous improvement initiatives such as lean, particularly in service environments such as health care.