An Experimental Case Study of the Successes and Failures of Job Enrichment in a Government Agency



An experimental job enrichment programme was introduced in three clerical work units of a federal agency. Matched control groups were selected for each experimental unit. The programme was introduced after careful diagnosis of the work situation and thorough training of the personnel involved. Within the limits imposed by the field situation, before—after measures of both behaviour and attitudes suggested that changes in behaviour (e.g. productivity, absences) occurred in favour of the experimental groups. Job enrichment apparently had no effect on attitudes, however. On the basis of interviews and observations, the productivity changes were attributed mainly to more efficient use of manpower, elimination of unnecessary operations, and feedback and competition, while the absence changes were attributed to initial changes in morale based on the expectation of extrinsic rewards. It was concluded that attitudes did not improve because the expectation and desire for such rewards had not been, met. The problems and limitations of job enrichment are discussed.


Work Unit Disciplinary Action Absence Rate Extrinsic Reward Rigid Rule 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1981

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