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The Real Meaning of a Job Published: Sunday, June 25, 2000 By: Dr. Manuel Angel Morales

The concept of the job is very important in the research and literature related to the experience of labor. Thus, it is very important to clearly defined job as a concept. Job can be defined in a number of ways. Let me share some of the definitions of very distinguished scholars.

Jobs can be defined in tournament models, which emphasize incentives, and in insurance models, which emphasize risk sharing, a job is a name for a wage level or profile. A job has no technological attributes in the strict sense of the word. The holder of a job is entitled to a kind of compensation scheme.

In hierarchical theories, the job describes a control relationship: the boss makes the decisions and allocates work assignments. Hedonic (the search for pleasure) wage analysis defines job as a series of attributes which employees care: environment, status, security, autonomy, development and integration, among others, are all part of the definition.

On the other hand, the human capital theory has also a role for a job, which is thought as an investment opportunity. Also a job can be described as a collection of tasks, thus emphasizing its technological feature. Finally, a job can be interpreted as a pure psychological experience, providing satisfaction and sense of self-efficacy to the employee.

As social scientists acknowledge, the relevance of the job as a concept depends on its empirical significance. Using panel data from mayor multinational corporations some researchers have been able to advance an number of job-related statements, that can be helpful to those entering or already working in the labor market. These are among the more interesting findings. At middle and base levels, changing jobs could be the key to increasing wages, but only that… Changes occur relatively often and could result in significant raises. But changing in itself is not a guarantee of other job related conditions…

Turnover is more frequent during the first few years on the job. By the time the employee has been with the organization several years, job switches within the organization are very unlikely. Some jobs in the organization are much more likely than others to lead to promotions. Organizations have feeder jobs and dead-end jobs. The low-wage jobs are the ones most likely to produce some kind of enhancement.

For most jobs a significant amount of hiring is done from outside. Although internal promotion is a common way to fill jobs, hiring from outside is frequent enough to suggest that increasingly organizations are giving plenty of chance for lateral and outside entry at high and middle levels. An interesting angle is that production jobs have somewhat higher outside hiring rates than other jobs. Developing multidisciplinary and multi-task abilities is more important for people who want to remain longer in the job or for individuals who have remained in the job for a longer period.


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