Job Autonomy

Literature on Concept of Job Autonomy

The concept of job autonomy first came to prominence from the work of Hackman and Oldham (1976). They mentioned that the five job characteristics (variety, identity, autonomy, significance, and feedback) motivate employees to achieve better job performance.

Job autonomy, among the five job characteristics, may be described as the extent to which a job allows freedom, independence, and discretion to schedule work, make decisions, and choose the methods used to perform tasks (Morgeson and Humphrey, 2006). This implies that employees with job autonomy will have more freedom to determine how they do their jobs themselves.

A sense of autonomy is the bedrock of motivation towards employee engagementOpens in new window. A number of HR professionals believe it provides a degree of self governance and gives the employees the freedom and empowerment to deliver excellent on-the-job performance, which translates into organizational productivity and business performance.

Hackman and Oldham (1976) suggested that employees can have higher motivation in autonomously designed jobs than in regulated jobs.

  • According to job characteristics model (JCM), job autonomy provides a desirable work context where employees motivate themselves based on the qualities of the job activity itself.

Similarly, findings show that job autonomy enhances employee intrinsic motivation through recognizing a wider range of skills and knowledge as important for their jobs. Piccolo and Colquitt (2002) reported that job autonomy mediated the relationship between transformational leadership and intrinsic motivation.

Impacts of Job Autonomy on Employees' Performance

Job autonomy plays an important role in enhancing employees’ performance in organization, because it creates a sense of responsibility among employees. Humphrey, Nahrgang, and Morgeson (2007) applied meta-analysis study found that perception of job autonomy is consistently positively related to intrinsic motivation and work performance.

It is believed that when job autonomy increases, employees exhibit the self determination on performing their tasks and demonstrate better job performance.

In the same vein, Tyagi (1985) found that job autonomy has positive impact on salesperon’s work performance. Eisenberger, Rhoades, and Cameron (1999) also found a positive relationship between self-determination perception and job performance.