What Keeps Low- and High-Qualified Workers Competitive: Exploring the Influence of Job Characteristics and Self-Directed Learning Orientation on Work-Related Learning

  • David Gijbels
  • I. Raemdonck
  • D. Vervecken
  • J. Van Herck
Part of the Advances in Business Education and Training book series (ABET, volume 4)


Based on the Demand-Control-Support model (American Journal of Public Health 78(10):1336–1342, 1988; Administrative Science Quarterly 24:285–308, 1979; Healthy work, stress, productivity and the reconstruction of working life, 1990) and the research by Raemdonck (A study in lower-qualified employees in Flanders, 2006), the present chapter aims to investigate the influence of job characteristics such as job demands, job control, social support at work on the one hand and self-directed learning orientation on the other hand on the work-related learning behaviour of the worker. The chapter presents results from two studies conducted among students in centres for part-time vocational education and among employees working in the ICT-department of a large company, both located in Flanders. A questionnaire using scales adapted from validated instruments was used. It was assumed that high scores for self-directed learning orientation and high scores for job demands, job control and social support would be associated with more work-related learning behaviour. The results indicated that only a self-directed learning orientation predicted the work-related learning behaviour to a significant extent.


Social Support Workplace Learning High Social Support Significant Positive Influence Learning Hypothesis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. Bateman, T. S., & Crant, J. M. (1993). The proactive component of organizational behaviour: A measure and correlates. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 14, 103–118.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bond, F. W., & Flaxman, P. E. (2006). The ability of psychological flexibility and job control to predict learning, job performance, and mental health. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 26(1–2), 113–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Borghans, L., Golsteyn, J., & De Grip, A. (2006). Meer leren door meer werken. [Learning more by working more]. Den Bosch: CINOP.Google Scholar
  5. Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  6. Cohen, J., & Cohen, P. (1983). Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  7. Daniels, K., Boocock, G., Glover, J., Hartley, R., & Holland, J. (2010). An experience sampling study of learning, affect, and the demands control support model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 94, 1003–1017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. De Jonge, J., Landeweerd, J. H., & Van Breukelen, G. J. P. (1994). De Maastrichtse Autonomielijst: Achtergrond constructie en validering (The Maastricht autonomy list: background, construction and validation). Gedrag en Organisatie, 7 (1), 27–41.Google Scholar
  9. De Jonge, J., Dollard, M. F., Dormann, C., Leblanc, P. M., & Houtman, I. L. D. (2000). The demand-control model: Specific demands, specific control, and well-defined groups. International Journal of Stress Management, 7, 269–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. De Jonge, J., Bakker, A., & Schaufeli, W. (2003). Psychosociale Theorieën over werkstress. [Psychosocial theories of work stress]. Houten: Bohn Stafleu van Loghum.Google Scholar
  11. Demerouti, E., Bakker, A. B., De Jonge, J., Janssen, P. P. M., & Schaufeli, W. B. (2001). Burnout and engagement at work as a function of demands and control. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, 27, 279–286.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. De Witte, H., Verhofstadt, E., & Omey, E. (2007). Testing Karaseks learning and strain hypotheses on young workers in their first job. Work & Stress, 21, 131–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dollard, M. F., Winefeld, H. R., Winefeld, A. H., & De Jonge. (2000). Psychological jobs strain and productivity in human service workers: A test of the demand-control-support model. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 73, 501–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Frese, M., Fay, D., Hilburger, T., Leng, K., & Tag, A. (1997). The concept of personal initiative: Operationalization, reliability, and validity in two German samples. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 70, 139–161.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Guglielmino, L. M., & Guglielmino, P. J. (1994). Practical experience with self-directed learning in business and industry human resource development. In R. Hiemstra & R. G. Brockett (Eds.), Overcoming resistance to self-direction in aduli learning. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, no. 64. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  16. Gijbels, D., Raemdonck, I., & Vervecken, D. (2010). Influencing work-related learning: The role of job characteristics and self-directed learning orientation in part-time vocational education. Vocations and Learning 3, 239–255.Google Scholar
  17. Gijbels, D., Raemdonck, I., Vervecken, D., & Van Herck, J. (2012). Understanding work-related learning: The case of ICT-workers. Journal of Workplace Learning. Google Scholar
  18. Hackman, J. R., & Oldman, G. R. (1975). Development of the Job Diagnostic Survey. Journal of Applied Psychology, 60, 159–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Johnson, J., & Hall, E. (1988). Job strain, workplace social support, and cardiovascular disease: A cross-sectional study of a random sample of the Swedish working population. American Journal of Public Health, 78(10), 1336–1342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Karasek, R. A. (1979). Job demands, job decision latitude, and mental strain: Implications for job design. Administrative Science Quarterly, 24, 285–308.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Karasek, R. (1985). Job content questionnaire and user’s guide. Department of Work Environment. University of Massachusetts Lowell, Lowell.Google Scholar
  22. Karasek, R., & Theorell, T. (1990). Healthy work, stress, productivity and the reconstruction of working life. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  23. Landsbergis, P. A., Schnall, P. L., Deitz, D., Friedman, R., & Pickering, T. (1992). The patterning of psychological job attributes and distress by “job strain” and social support in a sample of working men. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 15, 379–405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Panari, C., Guglielmi, D., Simbula, S., & Depolo, M. (2010). Can an opportunity to learn at work reduce stress? A revisitation of the job demand-control model. Journal of Workplace Learning, 22, 166–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Parker, S. K., & Sprigg, C. A. (1999). Minimizing strain and maximizing learning: The role of job demands, job control, and proactive personality. Journal of Applied Psychology, 84, 925–939.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Raemdonck, I. (2006). Self-directedness in learning and career processes. A study in lower-qualified employees in Flanders. Ghent: Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Ghent University.Google Scholar
  27. Raemdonck, I., & Thijssen, J. (2005). Lifelong learning and employability. Lifelong Learning in Europe, 10(2), 66–69.Google Scholar
  28. Pomaki, G., Maes, S., & Doest, L. T., (2004). Work conditions and employees’ self-set goals: goal processes enhance prediction of psychological distress and well-being. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 6, 685–694.Google Scholar
  29. Raemdonck, I., Plomp, I., & Segers, M. (2008). Obsolete or up-to-date? The role of job characteristics and self-directed learning orientation. Paper presented at the 4th EARLI SIG 14 Learning and Professional Development Conference. 27–29 August, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.Google Scholar
  30. Seibert, S. E., Kraimer, M. L., & Crant, J. M. (2001). What do proactive people do? A longitudinal model linking proactive personality and career success. Personnel Psychology, 54, 845–874.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Skule, S. (2004). Learning conditions at work: A framework to understand and assess informal learning in the Workplace. International Journal of Training and Development, 8(1), 8–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Taris, T. W. (2007). Al doende leert men. Werkkenmerken en leergedrag op het werk. [Learning by doing. Work characteristics and learning behaviour at work] Lecture by Prof. T. Taris, hoogleraar Arbeidsmotivatie [Senior Lecturer in Employment Motivation], Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, 29 Nov 2007.Google Scholar
  33. Taris, T. W., & Kompier, M. A. J. (2005). Job characteristics and learning behaviour: Review and psychological mechanisms. In P. L. Perrewé & D. C. Ganster (Eds.), Research in occupational stress and well-being: Exploring interpersonal dynamic (Vol. 4, pp. 127–166). Amsterdam: JAI Press.Google Scholar
  34. Taris, T. W., & Schreurs, J. G. (2009). Explaining worker strain and learning: How important are emotional job demands? Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 22, 245–262.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Taris, T. W., Kompier, M. A. J., De Lange, A. H., Schaufeli, W. B., & Schreurs, P. J. G. (2003). Learning new behaviour patterns: A longitudinal test of Karasek’s learning hypothesis among Dutch teachers. Work & Stress, 17(1), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Van Loo, J. (2005). Training, labour market outcomes, and self-management. Doctoral dissertation. Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market. Utrecht: Universiteit Utrecht.Google Scholar
  37. Van Mierlo, H., Rutte, C. G., Vermunt, J. K., Kompier, M. A. J., & Doorewaard, J. A. C. M. (2007). A multi-level mediation model of the relationships between team autonomy, individual task design and psychological well-being. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 80, 647–664.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Warr, P. B. (1990). The measurement of well-being and other aspects of mental health. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 63, 193–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Gijbels
    • 1
  • I. Raemdonck
    • 2
  • D. Vervecken
    • 3
  • J. Van Herck
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute for Education and Information SciencesUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium
  2. 2.Université Catholique de LouvainLouvain-La-NeuveBelgium
  3. 3.Free University of BerlinBerlinGermany
  4. 4.ProtimeAntwerpBelgium

Personalised recommendations