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Received March 2002 Revised June 2003 Accepted July 2003
Work motivation and job satisfaction in the Nordic countries
Jacob K. Eskildsen and Kai Kristensen
Center for Corporate Performance, The Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus, Denmark, and
Anders H. Westlund
The Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm, Sweden
Keywords Job satisfaction, Motivation (psychology), Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland Abstract This paper studies differences in job satisfaction and intrinsic work motivation between employees with different characteristics. Based on a study of the literature assumptions regarding these differences are developed and tested on data from a survey in the Nordic countries. In this survey 9,623 employees from randomly selected households in the Nordic countries participated. Among the ﬁndings are that Danish workers were found to be the most satisﬁed and that there is no difference between the genders with respect to job satisfaction in the Nordic countries.
Employee Relations Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 122-136 q Emerald Group Publishing Limited 0142-5455 DOI 10.1108/01425450410511043
Introduction The world market is becoming an increasingly complex place in which to operate for today’s businesses putting up new demands for corporate information systems. Most information systems are based solely on accounting data and thus insufﬁcient with respect to describing the company’s general situation and future ﬁnancial health (Kaplan and Norton, 1996). The information systems of the future will include measures of intangibles such as customer and employee/job satisfaction since these intangibles are in account for more than half of the book value in most industries in both the USA and Europe (Kaplan and Norton, 1996; Kristensen et al., 2002). These future information systems will require standardised methods for measuring intangibles (Kristensen and Westlund, 2001) and this is already well underway in the ﬁeld of customer satisfaction through national indices such as ACSI in the USA and EPSI Rating in Europe. Less has happened in the ﬁeld of job satisfaction with respect to developing standardised measuring methods (Kristensen and Westlund, 2001) and most of the studies done on job satisfaction and intrinsic work motivation are limited to speciﬁc countries or even speciﬁc organisations. As a consequence these studies report different and sometimes contradictory ﬁndings with respect to the effect that employee characteristics such as gender, age and educational level have on intrinsic work motivation and job satisfaction (Finlay et al., 1995; Clark et al., 1996; Miles et al., 1996; Ganzach, 1998; Robie et al., 1998; Gaertner,
1999; Groot and Maasen van den Brink, 1999; Sousa-Poza and Sousa-Poza, Work motivation 2000). and job The aim of this paper is therefore to study the literature and test satisfaction assumptions regarding the differences in intrinsic work motivation and employee/job satisfaction among employees with different characteristics. This analysis will focus on the following demographic and other categories: 123 . country of origin; . gender; . age; . managers vs employees; . educational level; and . company size. The data for this analysis stem from The Nordic Employee Indexe, which is a recent attempt to develop a standardised way to measure job satisfaction. The Nordic Employee Indexe was launched in August 2001 as a joint project between the two independent market research companies MarkedsConsult A/S and CFI Group and is based on approximately 9,600 responses form Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland. The effect of employee characteristics As stated above most of the studies done on intrinsic work motivation and job satisfaction are limited to speciﬁc countries or even speciﬁc organisations. As a consequence these studies report different and sometimes contradictory ﬁndings with respect to the effect of employee characteristics on intrinsic work motivation and job satisfaction. Some studies have tried to include counties from different parts of the world and in one of these studies most of the Nordic countries were included (Sousa-Poza and Sousa-Poza, 2000). This study covered a total of 15,324 employees from 21 countries and the results showed that Denmark was ranked number one in terms of job satisfaction and Sweden and Norway were ranked as number 9 and 10 respectively. Based on this result the following assumption A1 will be tested in the following: A1. Danish workers are more satisﬁed than workers from the other Nordic countries. Apart from cultural differences, age is another employee characteristic often thought to affect the level of job satisfaction. Many studies have studied this phenomenon and it is often observed that age differences in job satisfaction are greater than those associated with for instance gender or education (Clark et al., 1996). One of the most recent studies was conducted in the UK on a random sample of more than 5,000 employees (Clark et al., 1996). Here the relationship between age and satisfaction was found to be u-shaped but this relationship
does not hold true for the US labour market. Here low levels of job satisfaction among young employees have typically been observed (Clark et al., 1996). The Nordic labour market is considered more similar to the UK labour market than the US labour market. This is due to the fact that EU legislation concerning labour-related issues is applying in both the UK and the Nordic countries. Therefore the relationship between age and job satisfaction is assumed to be u-shaped in the Nordic countries as well. Although the effect of age on job satisfaction is accepted this is not necessarily the same for intrinsic work motivation. One study has reported no effect from age on intrinsic work motivation (Howard and Frink, 1996), but generally job satisfaction and internal work motivation are found to be related (Howard and Frink, 1996; Eby et al., 1999; Lu, 1999; de Jonge et al., 2001), and therefore the relationship between age and internal work motivation is also assumed to be u-shaped. The following assumptions A2 and A3 will be tested in subsequent chapters: A2. The relationship between age and job satisfaction is u-shaped. A3. The relationship between age and intrinsic work motivation is u-shaped. Gender is another employee characteristic which is often found to cause variations in reported levels of job satisfaction (Clark et al., 1996; Sousa-Poza and Sousa-Poza, 2000). Many studies have conﬁrmed these differences and in most of these studies it turned out that women were more satisﬁed than men (Clark et al., 1996; Sousa-Poza and Sousa-Poza, 2000; Wharton et al., 2000; Kalleberg and Mastekaasa, 2001). There have been many suggested explanations to this phenomenon ranging from genetic differences to an overrepresentation of women with part-time jobs. Based on these studies employees in the Nordic countries are expected to report similar differences in job satisfaction with respect to gender and the assumption A4 to be tested on the data countries is therefore: A4. Women are more satisﬁed with their job than men. The ﬁrst two employee characteristics dealt with gender and age but studies have also shown differences in reported job satisfaction with respect to other demographic characteristics. Educational level, especially, has been found to affect the level of job satisfaction and in many studies job satisfaction has been found to decrease with increasing educational level (Clark et al., 1996; Robie et al., 1998; Sousa-Poza and Sousa-Poza, 2000; Wharton et al., 2000). In one study the effect of educational level of on intrinsic work motivation was in focus but no signiﬁcant relationship was found (Howard and Frink, 1996). This has led to the following assumptions A5 and A6 regarding the relationship between educational level and job satisfaction as well as intrinsic work motivation:
A5. Employees with a high education are less satisﬁed. A6. Educational level has no impact on intrinsic work motivation. The last group of assumptions deal with more organisational characteristics of the employees. The previously mentioned study from the UK found that managers reported higher levels of job satisfaction than regular employee and this phenomenon has also been found in other studies (Clark et al., 1996; Howard and Frink, 1996; Robie et al., 1998; Kalleberg and Mastekaasa, 2001). Furthermore job satisfaction was found to be negatively related to company size. This has led to the following assumptions A7 and A8 that will be tested in the following: A7. Managers are more satisﬁed than regular workers. A8. Job satisfaction decreases with company size. The eight assumptions developed above will be tested in the following but ﬁrst the sampling and the methodology of the study will be described.
Work motivation and job satisfaction 125
The Nordic Employee Indexe The Nordic Employee Indexe is based on a general model for employee satisfaction, motivation and loyalty. The model, which is shown in Figure 1, captures employee satisfaction, motivation and loyalty based on the corporation’s or organisation’s image, senior management, immediate superior, co-operation, and work conditions (which includes salary, work tasks and professional and personal development opportunities).
Figure 1. The conceptual model behind The Nordic Employee Indexe
The model rests on a solid foundation of academic research in the ﬁeld (Baker, 1995; Allen and Meyer, 1996; Eby et al., 1999; Gaertner, 1999; Clark, 2001; de Jonge et al., 2001; Eskildsen et al., 2002) and is thought to provide a generic approach to employee satisfaction measurements that can be applied in any organisational setting. The way in which the seven constructs has been operationalised is shown in Table I were the items for each construct are shown. The focus of the following section is on the data used for testing the conceptual model and the eight assumptions previously developed. Sampling The data for The Nordic Employee Index were collected in August 2001 through a postal survey. A total of 85,000 questionnaires were sent to employees in the Nordic countries; 20,000 in Denmark, 25,000 in Sweden; 20,000 in Norway and 20,000 in Finland. The questionnaire contains generic questions
Construct Image Corporate leadership Items Overall image Proud to tell Perception of others Overall evaluation Ability to make right decisions Ability to inform employees Corporate ethics Overall evaluation Professional skills Leadership skills Professional cooperation Climate Social belonging Job content Work environment Pressure Pay and beneﬁts Job security Attention to professional and personal development Overall satisfaction Comparison to ideal Feel motivated Look forward to go to work Intend to stay Looking for another job Recommendation to friends Willingness to change Willingness to do extra effort Colleagues think I do well
Immediate manager Cooperation Conditions of work
Motivation and satisfaction
Table I. Construct items
that can be answered by any employee irrespective of industry, education etc. Work motivation The survey also contains a number of demographic and other questions such and job as age, education, size of company and whether or not the respondent holds a satisfaction managerial position. The questionnaires were sent to randomly selected households in the Nordic countries. The selection in Denmark and Norway was based on the telephone companies’ database of ﬁxed-line customers. In Sweden 127 and Finland the selection was based on the national register. In order to ﬁll in the questionnaire the respondent had to meet the following criteria: . be employed, but not self-employed; . work at least 25 hours a week for the same employer; and . be at least 18 years old. If several members of the household fulﬁlled the criteria, the person whose birthday passed most recently was asked to complete the questionnaire. About 9,600 responses were collected, of which there were about 2,650 in Denmark, 2,050 in Norway, 1,900 in Sweden and 3,000 in Finland. The response rate is 11.3 per cent but since a substantial amount of the Nordic households do not have people that fulﬁl the criteria above, the response rate is considerably higher in reality. All in all, the response rate is perceived as satisfactory. Methodology There are quite a number of statistical techniques that can be applied for testing causal relationships but the method used to estimates the model behind The Nordic Employee Index is partial least squares (PLS). The reason for this choice is that the focus of the study is on predicting employee loyalty and PLS ¨ is a technique well suited for this purpose (Joreskog and Wold, 1982) since it is not sensitive to skewed distributions, multicollinearity and misspeciﬁcations in the model as other structural equation modelling techniques (Cassel et al., 1999). The PLS model consists of three parts: inner relation, outer relations, and weight relations (Wold, 1980; Fornell and Cha, 1994). The inner relations depict the relations between the latent variables as shown in equation (1):
h ¼ Bh þ G j þ z :
Here h is a vector of the latent endogenous variables and B the corresponding coefﬁcient matrix (Fornell and Cha, 1994). j is a vector of the latent exogenous variables, G the corresponding coefﬁcient matrix and ﬁnally an error term, z, is included. The second part of the model is the outer relations (Fornell and Cha, 1994). Here the relationship between the latent variables and the manifest variables are deﬁned and in contrast to LISREL these can both be reﬂective and ¨ formative by nature (Joreskog and Wold, 1982). In a reﬂective relationship the manifest variables are determined by the latent variable whereas the latent variable is determined by the manifest variables in formative relationships ¨ (Joreskog and Wold, 1982).
Since the analysis performed here is based on reﬂective outer relations only this situation is mentioned in the following. The general formula for reﬂective outer relations is shown in equation (2): y ¼ Ly h þ 1y ð2Þ
x ¼ Lx j þ 1 x :
Here y is a vector of the observed indicators of h and x is a vector of the observed indicators of j. Ly and Lx are matrices that contain the li coefﬁcients which link the latent and the manifest variables together and d and 1 are the error of measurement for x and y, respectively (Fornell and Cha, 1994). The weight relations are the ﬁnal part of the PLS model. In PLS each case value of the latent variables can be estimated through the weight relations shown in equation (3) as linear aggregates of their empirical indicators: ^ h ¼ vh y ^ j ¼ vj x: ð3Þ
The ability to calculate case values for the latent variables is another reason why PLS has preferred over LISREL. In LISREL case values cannot be calculated without factor indeterminancy, which means that they should be used with caution (Bollen, 1989). This is not a problem in PLS estimation. Empirical results The Nordic Employee Indexe is estimated using the statistical technique PLS and the outcome is shown below in Figure 2. In the estimation procedure the respondents have been weighted with respect to country, region, sex, age as well as education in order to make the results more representative. There is a range of measures that can be used to assess the ﬁt of a PLS model. Three of the most commonly applied are composite reliability, average variance extracted, and R 2 (Fornell and Cha, 1994; Chin et al., 1996; Hulland, 1999). The three ﬁt measures for the empirical model are shown in Table II. The ﬁrst measure in Table II is the composite reliability given by equation (4). Here li is the factor loadings and Qi are the unique/error variances (Chin et al., 1996). !2 k X li
i¼1 k X i¼1
k X i¼1
The composite reliability is used to assess the reliability of the latent variables. Cronbach’s a could have been used instead but this measure is
Work motivation and job satisfaction 129
Figure 2. Empirical results for The Nordic Employee Indexe
Composite reliability Image Senior management Immediate superior Cooperation Conditions of work Motivation and satisfaction Loyalty Total for model 0.9383 0.9421 0.9475 0.9182 0.8484 0.9450 0.8681
AVE 0.8353 0.8028 0.8577 0.7895 0.4876 0.8113 0.5299 0.6900
Table II. Fit-measures for the empirical model
calculated under the assumption of tau equivalence among the measures and therefore composite reliability will provide a better estimate of the true reliability (Chin et al., 1996). In this case the composite reliability of the latent variables are above 0.90 except for “Conditions of Work” which is just below 0.85. This is satisfactory and the latent variables are therefore thought to be reliable. The second measure shown in Table II is average variance extracted (AVE) given by equation (5). This measure calculates the amount of variance captured by the latent variables in relation to the amount due to measurement error (Fornell and Cha, 1994):
k X i¼1
k XÀ Á l2 þ ui i i¼1
In this case the AVEs are all above 0.5 except for “Conditions of work”. An analysis of the individual items showed that the item dealing with job security is the main reason for this. This might be due to speciﬁc structure of the labour markets in the Nordic countries. In these countries the labour market is highly regulated and employees are therefore guaranteed some degree of job security. Therefore job security might not be as important for them as for employees from other cultural settings. This problem could be solved simply by omitting this item from the questionnaire but. However, since the purpose of The Nordic Employee Indexe is to develop a generic model applicable across cultural differences the item has remained apart of the “Conditions of work” construct. The third and last ﬁt-measure in Table II is the R 2s of the latent endogenous variables. This measure express the proportion of variance in the latent endogenous variables explained by the structural relationships (Fornell and Cha, 1994) just as in simple regression. The two R 2s stemming from this analysis are both quite high so the ﬁt of the model is also satisfactory on this account. The level of satisfaction Based on the overall model indices for intrinsic work motivation and job satisfaction have been calculated on a 0-100 scale. It is these two indices that will be used to test the eight assumptions in the following. When calculating indices the respondents have been weighted with respect to region, sex, age as well as education in order to make the results more representative. The ﬁrst assumption, A1, to be tested is whether or not Danish workers report a higher level of job satisfaction than workers from the other Nordic countries. Results on both job satisfaction and intrinsic work motivation for all four Nordic countries are shown in Figure 3. The overall Nordic result is calculated as a weighted average of the four countries so that the result is representative for the Nordic countries as a whole. From Figure 3 it is evident that A1 can be conﬁrmed. Danish workers report a signiﬁcantly higher level of job satisfaction ( p , 0.001). The differences in job satisfaction can almost be replicated in internal work motivation although there is no signiﬁcant difference between the reported levels from Danish and Finnish workers in this instance ( p = 0.929). This indicates that job satisfaction
Work motivation and job satisfaction 131
Figure 3. Job satisfaction and intrinsic work motivation in the Nordic countries
and internal work motivation is highly related and at the overall Nordic level the correlation between the two concepts is 0.795. With respect to both job satisfaction and internal work motivation Swedish workers report signiﬁcant lower levels ( p , 0.001) than workers from other Nordic countries and this is surprising since previous research showed that reported job satisfaction in Sweden was at the same level as Norway (Sousa-Poza and Sousa-Poza, 2000). The reasons for these conﬂicting results can be twofold. First the sample sizes in the previous research were a lot lower (Sousa-Poza and Sousa-Poza, 2000) than in The Nordic Employee Indexe study. Second, the results reported in the previous research do not appear to have been weighted with respect to region, sex, age as well as education in order to make the results more representative. Nevertheless if the trend from the sited study holds true one would actually expect that employees from a large number of countries would evaluate their job situation worse than the Swedish employees do if The Nordic Employee Indexe was expanded to other countries (Sousa-Poza and Sousa-Poza, 2000). The age effect The next assumptions to be tested are the distribution of job satisfaction and intrinsic work motivation in age. The actual relationship between age and job satisfaction as well as intrinsic work motivation is shown in Figure 4. It is obvious that the relationship between age and job satisfaction and age and internal work motivation is far from u-shaped in the Nordic countries. In
Figure 4. The distribution of job satisfaction and internal work motivation by age
fact the relationship is close to being perfectly linear. A simple linear regression model is signiﬁcant ( p = 0.01) for both satisfaction and motivation with R 2s of 0.929 and 0.807 respectively. A2 and A3 have therefore not been conﬁrmed in this Nordic study. In this respect the labour markets in the Nordic countries are more similar to the US labour market than the UK labour market, since a linear relationship between age and job satisfaction has previously been found in US studies (Clark et al., 1996).
Other characteristics In Figure 5 difference in job satisfaction and intrinsic work motivation are given for the rest of the employee characteristics in focus in this study. Based on Figure 5 the rest of the assumptions, A4-A8, can be tested. A4 stated that women would be more satisﬁed with their job than men. This assumption is not supported by the Nordic data since women and men appear to be equally satisﬁed with their job ( p = 0.906). With regard to intrinsic work motivation women appear to be more motivated but the difference between the genders is not signiﬁcant ( p = 0.172). The reason for the difference between this study and previous studies reporting a gender effect might be that the Nordic labour market is rather homogenous with regard to gender. It might actually be a lack of homogeneity that is the real reason for the reported differences in job satisfaction between the genders in previous studies. With regard to educational level A5 stated that highly educated employees are less satisﬁed than other employees. From Figure 5 it is evident that this is that case in the Nordic countries ( p , 0.001) so A5 is conﬁrmed. In this context
Work motivation and job satisfaction 133
Figure 5. Difference in job satisfaction and intrinsic work motivation
the group of highly educated employees consists of those with a university degree. An interesting aspect is that although the employees with a high education are less satisﬁed they are more motivated ( p = 0.03). A6 stated that educational level should have no impact on intrinsic work motivation and therefore this assumption has been disconﬁrmed by this study. The reason for this paradox
might be that the highly educated have more diversiﬁed and challenging tasks that can motivate them despite their lower level of satisfaction. From Figure 5 it is evident that A7 is also conﬁrmed by this study. Employees in managerial positions are signiﬁcantly more satisﬁed ( p , 0.001) than regular employees and the same is true for their intrinsic work motivation ( p , 0.001). The reason for this higher level of job satisfaction among employees in managerial positions might be that they to a larger extent are able to change elements of their vocational situation that they ﬁnd unsatisfactory. As was the case for the highly educated the employees that holds managerial positions have more diversiﬁed and challenging tasks and this might be the reason for the relative high level of intrinsic work motivation among managers. The last assumption to be tested is A8. This assumption stated that job satisfaction should decrease with company size and results from the Nordic countries are shown in Figure 5. From these data it is clear that there is no signiﬁcant difference in the reported levels of job satisfaction among employees from companies with less than 50 employees and from companies with 50 to 499 employees ( p= 1.000). The expected decrease in job satisfaction with company size occurs for companies with 500 or more employees. Employees from the largest companies report signiﬁcant lower levels for both job satisfaction and intrinsic work motivation ( p , 0001). Assumption A8 that job satisfaction decreases with company size is therefore partially conﬁrmed by this study in the Nordic countries.
Concluding remarks The aim of this paper was study the literature and test assumptions regarding the differences in intrinsic work motivation and employee/job satisfaction among employees with different characteristics. These assumptions where then tested on data from 9,623 employees in the Nordic countries. Previous research has shown that Danish workers are more satisﬁed than workers from the other Nordic countries and this was conﬁrmed by this study. Other previous ﬁndings that were conﬁrmed by this study includes that employees with a high education are less satisﬁed, that managers are more satisﬁed than regular workers and that job satisfaction decreases with company size. Job satisfaction between the genders has also been analysed in this study and men and women in the Nordic countries were found to be equally satisﬁed with their job. This contradicts previous ﬁndings where women were found to be signiﬁcantly more satisﬁed than men. Furthermore this study on employees from the Nordic countries found that job satisfaction and intrinsic work motivation are linear in age and that
employees with a high education report higher levels of intrinsic work Work motivation motivation. These ﬁndings are also in conﬂict with previous ﬁndings. and job It is clear from this study that job satisfaction and intrinsic work motivation satisfaction are not globally uniform concepts and there is a need for further research within this area especially on the differences between different cultural settings. Therefore this study is now being expanded in an attempt to establish 135 a European Employee Index as a European standard for measuring employee assets.
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