Knowledge Workers and Job Satisfaction: Evidence from Europe

Abstract

This article analyzes the determinants of job satisfaction among knowledge workers (KWs). Data from a representative sample of 14,096 employed workers from the European Social Survey (2010) are used for an empirical analysis drawing on multiple binary logistic regression models. Job satisfaction among KWs in 21 EU countries is found to be explained better by non-financial characteristics than by monetary rewards. Career advancement opportunities, flexible work schedules, colleague support, and work–family relations, as well as job security, emerge as central in explaining job satisfaction among KWs in our sample. Unlike the case for other workers (OWs), opportunities for further training and career experience are not determinants of job satisfaction among KWs. Management divisions in companies employing KWs would be well-advised to take these points into account.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    We have excluded Finland due to a filter error in the interviewer phase (European Social Survey 2014, p. 76) of one of the relevant variables.

  2. 2.

    A detailed list of ISCED codes can be found at the UNESCO website: http://www.uis.unesco.org/Education/Documents/isced-2011-en.pdf [accessed on 3/02/17]

  3. 3.

    A detailed list of ISCO-88 codes can be found at International Labour Organization website: http://www.ilo.org/public/english/bureau/stat/isco/isco88/alpha.htm [accessed on 3/02/17]

  4. 4.

    Assuming that national differences in institutional regimes may affect the level of job satisfaction, we define a new variable following Esser and Olsen (2012) and Holman’s (2013) classification of five institutional regimes.

References

  1. Alvesson, M. (2001). Knowledge work: ambiguity, image and identity. Human Relations, 54, 863–886.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Baccini, A., & Cioni, M. (2010). Is technological change really skill-biased? Evidence from the introduction of ICT on the Italian textile industry (1980–2000). New Technology, Work and Employment, 25(1), 80–93.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Belfield, C. R., & Harris, R. D. F. (2002). How well do theories of job matching explain variations in job satisfaction across education levels? Evidence for UK graduates. Applied Economics, 34, 535–548.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Brinkley, I. (2006). Defining the knowledge economy: knowledge economy programme report. London: The Work Foundation.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Brinkley, I., Fauth, R., Mahdon, M., & Theodoropoulou, S. (2010). Is knowledge work better for us? Knowledge workers, good work and wellbeing. London: Knowledge Economy Programme.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Carayannis, E. G., & Campbell, D. F. J. (2011). Open innovation diplomacy and a 21st century fractal research, education and innovation (FREIE) ecosystem: building on the quadruple and quintuple helix innovation concepts and the “mode 3” knowledge production system. Journal of the Knowledge Economy, 2(3), 327–372.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Carayannis, E. G., Grigoroudis, E., Del Giudice, M., Peruta, M., Della, R., & Sindakis, S. (2017). An exploration of contemporary organizational artifacts and routines in a sustainable excellence context. Journal of Knowledge Management, 21(1), 35–56.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Clark, A. E. (1997). Job satisfaction and gender: why are women so happy at work? Labour Economics, 4(4), 341–372.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Clark, A. E. (2005). Your money or your life: changing job quality in OECD countries. British Journal of Industrial Relations, 43(3), 377–400.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Clark, A. E., & Oswald, A. J. (1996). Satisfaction and comparison income. Journal of Public Economics, 61, 359–381.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Clark, A. E., Oswald, A. J., & Warr, P. (1996). Is job satisfaction U-shaped in age? Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 69(1), 57–81.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Del Giudice, M., Della Peruta, M. R., & Maggioni, V. (2013). Collective knowledge and organizational routines within academic communities of practice: an empirical research on science–entrepreneurs. Journal of the Knowledge Economy, 4(3), 260–278.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Drucker, P. F. (1959). Landmarks of tomorrow: a report on the new post-modern world. New York: Harper & Row.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Drucker, P. F. (1994). Post-capitalist society. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Drucker, P. F. (1999). Knowledge-worker productivity: the biggest challenge. California Management Review, 41(2), 79–94.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Drucker, P. F. (2007). Management challenges for the 21st century. Oxford: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Esser, I., & Olsen, K. M. (2012). Perceived job quality: autonomy and job security within a multi-level framework. European Sociological Review, 28(4), 443–454.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. European Social Survey. (2010). ESS Round 5: European Social Survey Round 5 Data (Data file edition 3 ed.p. 2). Bergen: Norwegian Social Science Data Services.

    Google Scholar 

  19. European Social Survey. (2014). ESS Round 5: European Social Survey 2010. Documentation Report. Edition 3.2. Bergen: Norwegian Social Science Data Services.

  20. Ferrer-i-Carbonell, A., & Frijters, P. (2004). How important is methodology for the estimates of the determinants of happiness? Economic Journal, 114(1997), 641–659.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Freeman, R. B. (1978). Job satisfaction as an economic variable. American Economic Review, 68(2), 135–141.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Frey, B. S., & Stutzer, A. (2002). What can economists learn from happiness research? Journal of Economic Literature, 40(2), 402–435.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Frey, B. S., & Stutzer, A. (2010). Happiness and economics: how the economy and institutions affect human well-being. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Gallie, D., & Russell, H. (2009). Work-family conflict and working conditions in Western Europe. Social Indicators Research, 93(3), 445–467.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Green, F. (2010). Well-being, job satisfaction and labour mobility. Labour Economics, 17(6), 897–903.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Hamermesh, D. S. (1977). Economic aspects of job satisfaction. Essays in labor market analysis (pp. 53–72). New York: John Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  27. Handel, M. J. (2007). Computers and the wage structure. Research in Labor Economics, 26, 155–196.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Holtskog, H. (2015). Defining the characteristics of an expert in a social context through subjective evaluation. Journal of the Knowledge Economy., 8, 1014–1031. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13132-015-0312-1.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Huang, T.-P. (2011). Comparing motivating work characteristics, job satisfaction, and turnover intention of knowledge workers and blue-collar workers, and testing a structural model of the variables’ relationships in China and Japan. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 22(4), 924–944.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Lange, T. (2012). Job satisfaction and self-employment: autonomy or personality? Small Business Economics, 38(2), 165–177.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Mastekaasa, A. (2011). How important is autonomy to professional workers? Professions and Professionalism, 1(1). https://doi.org/10.7577/pp.v1i1.143

  32. McGinnity, F., & Calvert, E. (2009). Work-life conflict and social inequality in Western Europe. Social Indicators Research, 93(3), 489–508.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Mysíková, M., & Večerník, J. (2013). Job satisfaction across Europe: differences between and within regions. Post-Communist Economies, 25(4), 539–556.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. OECD. (2003). OECD science, technology and industry scoreboard 2003. Paris: OECD Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Olsen, K. M. (2016). The power of workers: knowledge work and the power balance in Scandinavian countries. Employee Relations: The International Journal, 38(3), 390–405.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Pereira, M. C., & Coelho, F. (2013). Work hours and well being: an investigation of moderator effects. Social Indicators Research, 111(1), 235–253.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Pernicka, S., & Lücking, S. (2012). How knowledge shapes collective action: professionalism, market closure and bureaucracy in the fields of university and non-university research. Journal of Industrial Relations, 54(5), 579–595.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Pichler, F., & Wallace, C. (2009). What are the reasons for differences in job satisfaction across Europe? Individual, compositional, and institutional explanations. European Sociological Review, 25(5), 535–549.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Pyöriä, P. (2007). Informal organizational culture: the foundation of knowledge workers’ performance. Journal of Knowledge Management, 11(3), 16–30.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Ramírez, Y. W., & Nembhard, D. A. (2004). Measuring knowledge worker productivity. Journal of Intellectual Capital, 5(4), 602–628.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Santoro, G., Ferraris, A., Giacosa, E., & Giovando, G. (2016). How SMEs engage in open innovation: a survey. Journal of the Knowledge Economy. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13132-015-0350-8.

  42. Saint-Paul, G. (2008). Innovation and inequality: how does technical progress affect workers? Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  43. Sousa-Poza, A., & Sousa-Poza, A. A. (2000). Well-being at work: a cross-national analysis of the levels and determinants of job satisfaction. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 29, 517–538.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Sulek, J., & Marucheck, A. (1994). The impact of information technology on knowledge workers. Work Study, 43(1), 5–13.

    Google Scholar 

  45. Salvatori, A. (2010). Labour contract regulations and workers’ wellbeing: international longitudinal evidence. Labour Economics, 17(4), 667–678.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Tampoe, M. (1993). Motivating knowledge workers—the challenge for the 1990s. Long Range Planning, 26(3), 49–55.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  47. Torrent-Sellens, J., Velazco-Portocarrero, J., & Viñas-Bardolet, C. (2016). Knowledge-based work and job satisfaction: evidence from Spain. Journal of the Knowledge Economy. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13132-015-0349-1.

  48. Veenhoven, R. (1999). Quality-of-life in individualistic society. Social Indicators Research, 48(2), 159–188.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. Wilczyńska, A., Batorski, D., & Torrent-Sellens, J. (2016). Employment flexibility and job security as determinants of job satisfaction: the case of Polish knowledge workers. Social Indicators Research, 126(2), 633–656.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors acknowledge the support of a doctoral grant from the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, UOC. The article has also benefited from funding for the project Responsible Innovation and Happiness: A New Approach to the Effects of ICTs, supported by the Research Council of Norway and conducted by the Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Clara Viñas-Bardolet.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Viñas-Bardolet, C., Torrent-Sellens, J. & Guillen-Royo, M. Knowledge Workers and Job Satisfaction: Evidence from Europe. J Knowl Econ 11, 256–280 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13132-018-0541-1

Download citation

Keywords

  • Job satisfaction
  • Knowledge work
  • Work organization
  • Work–life balance
  • Europe
  • ESS