ITGM01: Applied Research Methods Employees' job satisfaction and performanceI. Literature ReviewResearchers have historically attempted to show a link between individual employee satisfaction and performance, but results have often been inconclusive (laffaldano & Muchinsky, 1985). Part of this could be attributable to the limited performance domain that has been studied. The continual broadening of the performance realm has helped researchers address more issues in the unexpectedly complicated employee satisfaction performance connection. Employee Satisfaction. Employee job satisfaction has been described under different names including employee engagement, employee involvement and employee attitudes; in the 1930s the use of the term "morale" was very common (Judge et al. , 2001 a).
Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably and at other times distinctions are drawn. For example, Harter, Schmidt, and Hayes (2002) made a distinction between employee engagement and satisfaction by referring to the former as an ".. .individuals involvement and satisfaction with as well as enthusiasm for work" (p. 269). Harter et al. acknowledge that engagement typically accounts for a significant portion of the variance in overall employee satisfaction but still decided to make a distinction and use the term employee engagement to differentiate these actionable work group level facets from the more generalizable theoretical construct of employee satisfaction (p.
269). Harter and his colleagues found a high correlation between the two constructs (p = . 91) in their meta-analysis and very similar true score correlations with various outcomes including customer satisfaction, profit, and turnover; uncorrected correlations demonstrated even greater convergence. As far back as the 1930s, many organizations were already measuring employee attitudes and morale (Schneider, Ashworth, Higgs, & Carr, 1996). Interest in employee satisfaction has a long history, but most observers point to the Hawthorne studies (Roethlisberger & Dickson, 1939) as the starting point for research on the satisfaction-performance relationship.
Although exploring this association was not the original intent of the Hawthorne studies, it nonetheless served as an impetus for stimulating more research in this area. Since this time, it has been estimated that over 30 constructs have been investigated as either antecedents or consequences of employee satisfaction (Brown & Peterson, 1993). Even with the great number of outcomes studied, past research exploring the relationship between employee satisfaction and performance has been largely inconsistent (cf.
Bhagat, 1982). A review of the literature points to several potential reasons why previous research has not found a consistent relationship between the two constructs. Evidence is now mounting that indicates some researchers may have erroneously concluded that satisfaction and performance are not related. In the area of job performance, for instance, researchers have spent more time attempting to delineate its predictors, instead of focusing on the construct itself (Austin & Villanova, 1992; Campbell, 1990); the same can be said for the study of employee satisfaction.
It is a difficult task to understand a relationship without knowledge of the many behaviors that comprise job performance (Hulin & Judge, 2003). Although researchers have begun to remedy this deficiency (e. g., Campbell, McCloy, Oppler, & Sager, 1993; Viswesvaran & Ones, 2000; Viswesvaran, Schmidt, & Ones, 2005), the vast majority of satisfaction performance studies were conducted before these theories were available to draw upon. This left many early researchers attempting to predict organizational outcomes based on limited theoretical rationale.