T4-01: Comparative perspectives on job quality

5 September 2019, 14:00–15:30

Chair: Dorothea Alewell


Does employment status matter for job quality?

Franz Eiffe, Eurofound
Christophe Vanroelen, Free University Brussels
Deborah De Moortel, Free University Brussels
Jessie Gevaert, Free University Brussels

» Full paper: ilera-2019-paper-81-Eiffe.pdf

This paper contains an in-depth analysis of employment status in Europe, dealing with employment statuses’ distribution and the potential consequences for job quality and quality of working life.

Since the 1970’s, employment statuses have started to diversify. Non-standard forms of work emerged next to ‘standard’ permanent employment. These forms of employment may be ‘non-standard’ on several dimensions, but most important are the contractual (temporary, agency, and freelance work) and temporal (part-time) nature of work. The main classification of employment status in this study contains: indefinite contracts, fixed-term contracts of more than one year, fixed-term contracts of less than one year, other employees, dependent self-employed without employees, independent self-employed without employees, and self-employed with employees.

Since non-standard forms of employment are changing the labour market at a growing rate, European policy makers aim to formulate suitable policy initiatives. The European Pillar of Social Rights aims to modernise the rules of employment contracts, and broaden the scope of traditional employment to new and atypical forms of work (European Commission 2017a), while also earlier EU-efforts tried to deal with this issue.

In this study, first of all, we discuss the prevalence over time, socio-demographics and countries of different employment status categories. Then, we explore the relationship between the employment statuses and job quality, and the mediating influence of individual-, and country-level characteristics. Finally, we also look into the relationship of employment status and the quality of working life.

While permanent waged employment is still the norm, non-standard employment is more prevalent among new labour market entrants

Permanent waged employment is still the norm throughout Europe. Fixed-term contracts however, have no continuous pattern across European countries. Solo self-employment is increasing, especially in Southern European countries. Lastly, part-time employment tends to increase in all European countries.

While permanent employment is most often found among older, higher educated workers and in higher income quintiles, both fixed-term contracts and (involuntary) part-time employment are more prevalent among young, primary educated workers, and in low income quintiles. Self-employment without employees is prevalent in both higher and lower income quintiles.

Different employment statuses experience different degrees of job quality

The job quality of all other employment status categories is compared to that of workers holding a permanent employee contract. Long-lasting temporary contracts have lower work intensity, lower quality of social environment, lower skills and discretion, less chance of receiving training, less work schedule regularity, poorer working time quality, less job security, and less employment prospects. The pattern is very similar, but more pronounced, for short-term fixed contracts. The economicylly dependent self-employed without employees have lower employment prospects, poorer skills and discretion, less favourable physical and social environment, and lower scores on work intensity and higher job strain compared to other employment statuses. For the independent self-employed without employees similar patterns are found. The self-employed are a relatively favourable group in terms of job quality. Finally, workers in part-time employment have a worse quality of their social environment, training, skills and discretion, regularity, job security and employment prospects – but a more favourable physical environment, job strain and working time quality.

Labour market performance and working-class power are crucial to understanding the country-level influence on job quality

The results concerning country variation in job quality show that particularly indicators relating to ‘labour market performance’ (e.g. unemployment rate and R&D expenditure) and ‘working-class power’ (e.g. centralisation in collective bargaining, collective bargaining coverage and union density) are significantly related to a number of job quality indices. Such results show the importance of social dialogue.

Furthermore, the size of the associations between employment statuses and job quality indices differs between production regimes. For example, results have shown that fixed-term workers have poorer employment prospects compared to permanent workers in all but the liberal production regime.

Employment status and quality of working life

Compared to permanent contract-holders, temporary workers encounter more financial problems, adverse social behaviour, lower satisfaction with working conditions, and find their health and safety more at risk. Most of these findings are stronger among short-term temporary contracts. Also, dependent solo self-employed have worse scores on many quality of working life indicators, although their motivation is higher. Independent solo self-employed encounter more financial difficulties and work-private interference and worse self-rated health than permanent employees, while they are more motivated and engaged with work and less often absent from work. Self-employed with employees have overall the most favourable quality of working life scores, although face a problematic work-private interference. Voluntary part-timers show similar or better quality of working life than permanent workers. This cannot be said for the involuntarily part-time employed, who perform badly on most quality of working life outcomes. Also working long hours comes at a cost for many aspects of working life, although these workers are highly motivated. The relation between employment status and quality of working life is mediated by job quality. Also contextual factors (e.g. educational attainment, or the country of residence) tend to aggravate/attenuate associations between employment status and quality of working life.


The analyses uses multi-level regression models in order to explore the effects of employment status on several job quality outcome indicators (covering the following joq quality dimensions: physical working conditions, working time quality, social environment, skills and discretion, work intensity). Multilevel structural equation models are employed to identify indirect effects of employment status on quality of working life outcomes such as satisfaction with working conditions or health.


The differences in job quality among higher education graduates in Europe

A cross-national analysis of 17 countries

Predrag Lazetic, University of Bath

This paper investigates the diversity in job quality of university graduates in 17 European countries using multilevel regression modelling, based on combined REFLEX and HEGESCO graduate survey data. The focus of the research is on aspects of graduate jobs that affect quality, especially the analytically neglected aspects of skill utilisation and work autonomy, as well as income, job security and work life balance.

The paper analyses variance in graduate job quality across 258 sectors of economic activity in the 17 countries studied, and identifies a number of factors that are correlated with overall job quality and its dimensions.

The main research focus, however, is on contextual factors in the wider society and economy that help explain both diversity in job quality and differences between different sectors of the economy and different occupational groups. In particular: 1) the adoption of new computer technologies; 2) exposure to globalisation, and 3) high educational attainment in the labour force.

The study tests two broadly contrasting theoretical approaches to differences in graduate job quality: skill-biased technological change theory (Acemoglu, 2002) and the new institutionalism (Baker, 2014) on the one hand, and the conflict theory of global knowledge capitalism (Brown et al., 2012) on the other, and in empirical terms finds more support for the latter of two theoretical accounts.

The findings point to one fact, neglected in mostly cross-country comparison-focused comparative research on job quality, which is that differences between countries in terms of job quality are not significant on any dimension apart from income, at least not in the case of the graduate worker segment of the labour force. With income level, the country of employment matters much more than for instance the sector of employment in which graduates work or the type of job they do. The differences in the macro level are however significant, and in some cases substantial, at the level of sectors of the economy, and these should be considered more in comparative studies. Only by taking into account sector features can one understand why, for instance, the primary and secondary education sectors across Europe provide the best graduate jobs, and the sectors of wholesale and retail or transport and communications the worst graduate jobs. A multilevel perspective on graduate job quality also reveals the important point that sectoral comparisons have limits, as most variance in graduate job quality is located at individual level (e.g. there is greater difference between individual graduate jobs within one sector of the economy than between graduate jobs in different sectors of the economy in Europe).

Here the key findings with regard to variables related to the main theoretical framework and the main research question asks:

Use of computer technologies at work: There are differences here at both the individual and sectoral level. Above average use of computers and the internet compared to other graduates in the same sector was not associated with any premium or penalty in terms of job quality in any of its dimensions apart from job security, where it brings some rewards, and is indicative of a more permanent position. On the other hand, graduates working in sectors characterised by high utilisation of computers and internet technologies are on average slightly better paid than graduates in other economic sectors (β = 1.265). But higher than average use of computers and the internet in a sector of the economy, contrary to the theoretical assumptions of skill-bias technology theory, is associated with lower than average skill utilisation (β = -2.082), which potentially indicates a deskilling effect of high computer use in a sector. Such sectors apparently do not provide jobs in which graduates can use the skills acquired through higher education. This study shows that graduates in Europe primarily associate skill utilisation with the extent to which their work calls on their disciplinary knowledge and analytical skills. Softer skills and abilities come only in second place.

Globalisation exposure: Similar to technological growth and level of technological development, globalisation exposure in the sector seems to have not so straightforward negative or positive effects on graduate job quality. High globalisation exposure in the sector of graduate employment is positively correlated with skill utilisation (β = 0.119) and job security (β =0.421), while it has a small but negative effect on earnings (β= -0.077). This seems to support the view of skill-bias theorists about the impact of globalisation on high skilled workers (Goldin and Katz, 2007). While globalisation, with a related increase in competition, outsourcing and offshoring might have a more negative effect on low-skilled workers lacking higher education, highly skilled graduates in Europe do not seem to be as affected by outsourcing and offshoring activities as their low-skilled co-workers.

Tertiary education attainment of the labour force: the findings indicate a significant, yet relatively small, positive correlation between skill utilisation (β = 0.052) and work autonomy (β = 0.052) and the proportion of workers with higher education degrees in a sector. Higher educational attainment in some sectors (usually education, professional services, ICT or finance) is associated with slightly higher skill utilisation and work autonomy for every graduate worker regardless of the occupational group he or she belongs to, however it has no associations with income. This partly supports the views of new institutionalism ( Baker, 2014) on the emergence of a schooled society. However, the past rate of tertiary attainment growth across sectors of the economy is negatively associated with skill utilisation (β = -0.090), which also potentially supports the arguments of new institutionalism. This negative effect is theorised as a short term effect until the occupational system adjusts to this new type of workers. Nevertheless, this finding also indicates that (hypothetically) in sectors where the proportion of highly educated workers grows fast, skill utilisation levels might fall, due to the filtering of new graduate workers down occupational hierarchies.


Influence of organisational citizenship behaviour on organisational effectiveness

Experiences from Indian banks

Sudhir Chandra Das, Faculty of Commerce, Banaras Hindu University, India

» Full paper: ilera-2019-paper-76-Das.pdf

Motivation and Objectives: Although the banking sector in India is on the growth trajectory and providing vast opportunities of employment, however, many types of psychological problems i.e. stress, strain, anxiety, have not been looked upon. The empirical observation reveals that overloading and extreme burden of work, strict time pressure of completion of tasks, more than 12 hours of work duration, long travel, fear of termination of job contract etc. are very common problems among banking sector employees (Kishori  &  Vinothini , 2016; Ementa & Ngozi, 2015; Ali et al ,2013; Katyal et al., 2011). As a result, the bank employees suffer from extremely high level of stress, frustration, disappointment, depression and many types of other psychological problems which are decreasing the employee efficiency on work and also resulting in dissatisfaction with their work as well as imbalance in their family matter also (Kumar & Sundar, 2012). In this context sustainable bank profitability or organizational effectiveness is the major concern of research nowadays. The scholar feels that through organizational citizenship behaviour, organizational effectiveness can be achieved. The main focus of the study is to identify the influences of organizational citizenship behaviours on internal and external measures of organizational effectiveness.

Participants: Researcher has used two sets of questionnaire i.e., one set (Organizational citizenship behaviour) prepared  for bank employees and second set (service quality) for the select bank customers. A total of 350 bank employees (respondents) located at Varanasi district of Uttar Pradesh province from 117 bank branches were selected through stratified random sampling technique in the proportion of 4:1 between public and private bank employees and 1:1 ratio of managerial and non-managerial (Assistant) employees. Second category of respondents comprise 400 customers for assessing service quality of organizational effectiveness which have been selected in the ratio of 4:1 from public and private banks by stratified random sampling technique. For determining the sample size for the study different formulas and published table have been consulted (e.g., Sampling and Surveying handbook, 2002; DeVaus, 2002; Krejcie and Morgan, 1970).

Measures: The study adopts eastern scale of Farh et al (1997) consisting seven items categorised into two parts namely protecting company resources (3 items) and Interpersonal harmony (4 items). The western 24 item OCB scale developed by Podsakoff et al (1990) using recommendations postulated by Schwab (1980) and Churchill (1979) consists of five subscales, namely: altruism, conscientiousness, sportsmanship, courtesy and civic virtue have been adopted in the study. It has demonstrated acceptable psychometric properties in previous studies (Hui, Law & Chen, 1999; Moorman, 1991; Niehoff & Moorman, 1993). The reliability coefficients for the subscales ranged from 0.70 to 0.85.   The study has used service quality measures with four components (26 items) namely customer perceptions of service reliability (Parasuram et al., 1985), perceived expertise of employees (Crosby et al., 1990), customer’s trust in the company (Crosby, Evans & Cowles, 1990), and customer willingness to cooperate (Kelley, Skinner & Donnelly 1992) as external organizational effectiveness. For measuring internal effectiveness, the study identifies two important scales (objective measures), namely-net profit per employee (Adopted from Orlando & Nancy, 2001) and HR cost per employee (adopted from Yen & Niehoff, 2004) based on extensive literature survey (e.g., Friedlander & Pickle, 1968; Price, 1968; Campbell, 1977; Walz & Niehoff, 2000; Rego & Cunha, 2008; Podsakoff, Whiting, Podsakoff & Blume, 2009).

Construct Validation: Prior to establish relationship between organizational citizenship behaviour and organizational effectiveness, the study adopted the scientific validation process. Initially, all of measures of OCB and OE subjected to reliability coefficient as per standard of Nunnally (1978), secondly, common method variance have been checked (Organ et al., 2006) using Harman’s one factor test. Finally, construct were established through convergent validity (Campbell & Fiske, 1959) and discriminant validity (Campbell & Fiske, 1959). That means the study has adopted western and eastern scale after following reliability and validation process.

Data Analytic: For examining the influences of organizational citizenship behaviours on organizational effectiveness, Ordinal Logistic Regression (PLUM) model have been applied. The Ordinal Regression procedure (referred to as PLUM) allows building models, generating predictions, and evaluating the importance of various predictor variables in cases where the dependent (target) variable is ordinal in nature. The design of Ordinal Regression is based on the methodology of McCullagh (1980). It can be considered as either a generalisation of multiple linear regressions or as a generalisation of binomial logistic regression.

Results and Discussions: Initially, thirty indicators of six dimensional OCB were taken as predictors for assessing their effects on eight dimensional aggregated score of organizational effectiveness. It is interesting to note that out of thirty indicators, only seventeen variables were found significant and create 55.8% variation on organizational effectiveness.  It is known fact that organizational citizenship behaviour (OCB) has generally been associated with organizational effectiveness. However,  research of  Borman (2004); Vigoda-Gadot (2007); Sevi (2010) has shown that this may not always be the case and that certain types of organizational citizenship behaviour may be inimical to organizational effectiveness by uncomfortable the fulfilment of specific formal goals. Finally, the hypothesis formed that OCB creates significant variation on OE was partially supported. These findings support prior research linking OCB to various indicators of organizational effectiveness (e.g., George & Bettenhausen, 1990; Karambayya, 1990; MacKenzie et al., 1991, 1993; Podsakoff et al., 1997; Podsakoff & MacKenzie, 1994; Turnipseed & Murkison, 2000; Walz & Niehoff, 2000; Werner, 1994; Organ’s; 1988; MacKenzie et al., 1991, 1993; Organ, 1988; Posdakoff et al., 1997; Appelbaum et al., 2004; Bienstock et al., 2003; Bolino & Turnley, 2003; Bambale, 2011; Tai et al. 2012; Magliocca & Christakis ,2001; Kark ,2004; Walz & Niehoff, 1996; Yoon & Suh, 2003; Kataria et al., 2013; Podsakoff et al., 2009). The positive impact of organization citizenship behavior on organizational effectiveness also has been supported by different studies (Castro, 2004; Turnipseed & Rassuli, 2005; Organ, Podsakoff & MacKenzie 2006; Kumari & Thapliyal, 2013). Dimensions of OCB predict profitability of the bank branches positively and significantly confirmed by Nawaser (2015).

Conclusive Remarks: Influence of OCB not found much influential as only 17 variables out of 30 observed significant variation. Although there are sufficient number of antecedents of OCB namely Personality, Attitude, Leader characteristics, Job satisfaction, Role perception, Organisational commitment, Job embeddedness, Organisational justice, HR practices, Person organisation fit, Job characteristics, Empowerment, Competency, Feedback, Employee engagement, Perceived organizational support, Organizational climate, Materialistic attitude, Organizational silence and Psychological capital . But human resource (HR) practice influences more OCB through job embeddedness, POS, and trust (Fatima et al 2015). Further, the literature indicates that all activities which make up the human resources management, i.e., recruitment and selection, motivation and reward, evaluation and development, may contribute to the emergence of citizenship behaviours (Organ, Podsakoff & MacKenzie, 2006; Sun, Arya & Law, 2007; Snape & Redman, 2010; Husin, Chelladurai & Musa, 2012; Fu, 2013). Several other authors in cross cultural researchers stated that HR practices play an important role in motivating employees’ OCB and firm’s performance (e.g., Snape and Redman 2010; Takeuchi et al 2009; Zacharatos et al 2005; Omari et al 2012; Mukhtar et al 2012; Babaei et al 2012).

Key Words: Human resources, organizational citizenship behaviour, organizational effectiveness, banking industry, service quality, internal and external effectiveness.


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