Poor work design begets poor work design: Capacity and willingness antecedents of individual work design behavior.

Few studies have systematically considered how individuals design work. In a replication study (N = 211, Study 1), we showed that students naturally tend to develop simplified, low variety work. In 2 further simulation studies, we quantitatively assessed participants’ work design behaviors via 2 new measures (“enriching task allocation” and “enriching work strategy selection”). As a comparison measure, we assessed individuals’ tendency to choose individualistic rather than work design strategies (“person-focused strategy selection”). We then investigated how work design behaviors are affected by capacity (professional expertise, explicit knowledge, job autonomy) and willingness (life values). For a sample of human service professionals (N = 218, Study 2), participants scored higher on enriching task allocation and enriching work strategy selection if they had expertise as an industrial/organizational psychologist and if they had high autonomy in their own job. Explicit knowledge about work design predicted lower scores on person-focused strategy selection, and mediated the effects of professional expertise on this outcome. Individuals high in openness values scored higher on enriching work strategy selection, and those high in conservation values scored lower on enriching task allocation. These findings were replicated in Study 3 among working professionals (N = 602). We then showed that openness to change values predicted enriching work strategy selection via the more proximal processes of valence (valuing intrinsic work characteristics) and affect (positive affect when enriching others’ work). This article opens up a new area of inquiry: how and why individuals design work for others in the way they do. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)