Literature Review on Job Satisfaction Essay

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In this particular chapter, the review of literature about all independent variables of this study comprising of work time, income, organizational support, job value, and burnout as well as the dependent variable of job satisfaction are provided in detail. Work-life balance acts as the moderating factor of each independent variable mentioned above between job satisfaction. From the literature review prepared, the relationships existing among both independent and dependent variables are further explained via the illustration of the conceptual framework and hypotheses development for this particular study.

Work Time and Income

In regards to the above job-related factors of work time and income, those factors may be correlated to work-life balance among academicians in the Public Higher Education Institutions based in Sarawak specifically. Wu, Claiborne, & McCarthy (2013) reviewed the literature in which there was a confirmation that negative work-life balance was associated with long working hours and work overload as mentioned by Losoncz and Bortolotto (2009). In the situation that an employee allocates more time for his or her work, the consequence that may be faced by the employee would be he or she would then lack time and energy for both personal and family life; thus, this would then result in conflicts arising between domains of work and life. On the other hand, supervisors who may enjoy higher income as compared to their subordinates may experience degraded work-life balance due to having more job responsibility, pressure, and intensive work content.

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Amir Sadeghi (2012) quoted the research carried out by Okpara, Squillace, & Erondu (2005) the investigation of the effects of gender on job satisfaction among university lecturers in colleges in the US. The results indicate that male teachers were found to be more satisfied based on three factors supervision, salary, and promotion, whereas female teachers were found to be less satisfied with the salary they get. Moreover, Amir Sadeghi (2012) referred to the research conducted by Oshagbemi (2003) which studied job satisfaction among academic staff in the United Kingdom whereby the results showed respondents were mainly satisfied with co-workers’ behavior and jobs, but they were found to be dissatisfied with pay and promotional opportunities. Amir Sadeghi (2012) furthermore, quoted on the research carried out by Brown (2005) who investigated job satisfaction among employees at the Carribean University which also indicates the same finding, in which, they were found to have less satisfaction with salary as well as working conditions. Apart from that, it is also mentioned by Scheroder (2008) which has studied the job satisfaction of employees at one of the Christian universities in the United States that the lowest level of job dissatisfaction is deemed to be associated with the factors of salary.

Organizational Support

Wu, Claiborne, & McCarthy (2013) referred to the study carried out by Hopkins (2005) in which it was mentioned that support from supervisors and organizations was required for the successful integration of employees’ work and lives. Wu, Claiborne, & McCarthy (2013) in their study, also made prior reference to the work carried out by Jang (2009) who stated that both perceived supervisor support and workplace support were related to work-life balance for working parents. Thus, it is highly expected that academicians attached to Sarawak’s Public Higher Education Institutions would be able to experience better work-life conditions if they receive more supervisor and organizational support which function to mitigate conflict and stress which may arise from responsibilities from both work and life.

Job Value

Wu, Claiborne, & McCarthy (2013) disclosed the reference made to a study carried out by Miller (1981) which specified that work value altered individuals’ subjective nature of work experience apart from having an effect onto job choice decisions (Judge & Bretz, 1992).


Chung E. (2014) in her study carried out, explained that the term burnout may be traced to the popular and trade psychology articles that examined the problems experienced by human services workers. In the study conducted by her, reference was made to the work of Maslach (2003) which defined job burnout as a psychological syndrome that involves a prolonged response to a stressor in the workplace. Another reference was also made to the study carried out by Maslach and Leiter (1997), whereby burnout is explained as an erosion of work engagement using the fact that energy turns into exhaustion, involvement turns into cynicism and efficacy turns into ineffectiveness. Chung E. (2014) added burnout is measured by gauging a person’s emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment.

Ashley O’Donoghue, Edel Conway, and Janine Bosak (2016) described employee ill-being, in particular burnout, as being linked to employee absence (Peterson, Demerouti, Bergstrom, Asberg, & Nygren, 2008) and absence duration (Schaufeli, Bakker, & Van Rhenen, 2009). In the same research, references were made to the work of Maslach, Schaufeki, and Leiter (2001) whereby burnout is defined as “a prolonged response to chronic emotional and interpersonal stressors on the job, and is defined by the three dimensions of exhaustion, cynicism, and inefficacy” (p. 397). Furthermore, in the same research, reference was also carried out to the work of Demerouti and Bakker (2008) which identified burnout as “a psychological syndrome that may emerge when employees are exposed to a stressful working environment, with huge job demands and low resources” (p. 1). Researchers mentioned that burnout is classified as a negative state of low activation and displeasure, based on the taxonomy of work-related well-being. Ashley O’Donoghue, Edel Conway, and Janine Bosak (2016) included in their research the work of Demerouti, Bakker, Vardakou, & Kantas, 2003; Demerouti, Mostert, & Bakker, 2010; regarding emotional exhaustion, which represents a state of low activation apart from being regarded as the central component of the burnout process (Maslach et. al. 2001). They further added that research has shown that job demands result in physical, affective, and cognitive strain which exhaust employees’ mental and physical resources leading to burnout (Cullinane, Bosak, Flood, & Demerouti, 2014; Demerouti et al., 2003).

In the study carried out by Ashley O’Donoghue, Edel Conway, and Janine Bosak (2016), they quoted the works carried out by Tepper (2002) and Tepper, Moss, and Duffy (2011) which examine the negative outcomes of perceived abusive supervision to show that followers who perceive abusive supervision are likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, emotional exhaustion, and experience reduced enjoyment of their work. Concerning the same study carried out by the researchers mentioned, they discussed emotional exhaustion and reduced enjoyment of work are dimensions of burnout (Demerouti et al., 2010) whereby the findings suggest that perceptions of abusive supervision are related to follower work-related ill-being. Furthermore, Ashley O’Donoghue, Edel Conway, and Janine Bosak (2016) emphasized that the view is well supported by Liu et al. (2012) who investigated the link between perceived abusive supervision and burnout and concluded that “abused followers often suffer from depression, anxiety, and emotional exhaustion, and that they tend to alienate themselves from their jobs” (p. 1189).

Concerning the study carried out by Katariina Salmelo-Aro, and Jari-Erik Nurmi (2004), they have made prior research on what Lee and Ashforth, 1996 have in their research, whereby, work overload and pressure time are the major antecedents of burnout, particularly of the emotional exhaustion and depersonalization components.

Job Satisfaction

Ashley O’Donoghue, Edel Conway, and Janine Bosak (2016) in their studies, referred to the first definition of job satisfaction by Locke (1976) as “a pleasurable or positive emotional state resulting from the appraisal of one’s job or job experiences” (p.1304). Besides that, Ashley O’Donoghue, Edel Conway, and Janine Bosak (2016) described job satisfaction as an evaluative judgement and positive emotional reaction and attitude to one’s work concerning the studies conducted by Briner & Kiefer, 2009; Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996; Wright, Cropanzano, & Bonett, 2007). Ashley O’Donoghue, Edel Conway, and Janine Bosak (2016) made further reference to job satisfaction to Bakker et al. (2012) as a passive state of contentment and pleasure, accompanied by low activation; whereas in the research carried out by Salanova et al. (2014) suggest that job satisfaction describes “9-to-5” followers who are “content but fall short on drive” (p. 77).

About the present study proposed, the academic staff has an essential role in the facilitation of the public higher education institution’s forward movement. Given Amir Sadeghi's (2012) research, it is discussed that academic staff is known as knowledge workers (Arokiasamy et al., 2012) who have to work harder to satisfy the progressively escalating universities’ expectations (Eyupoglu & Saner, 2009; Bilge, 2006). Therefore, academic staff which is deemed to be full of motivation and satisfaction is perceived to be more effective in enhancing the institution’s futuristic movement. Those educational institutions should not underestimate the job satisfaction of their academic staff. Amir Sadeghi (2012) further added a review of the literature indicates that there are already a few existing research studies have been carried out about academic staff‘s job satisfaction specifically in Malaysia (Wong & Heng, 2009; Santhapparja & Seyed, 2005). This current study is proposed to investigate further the satisfaction determinants of academic staff to achieve organizational goals with success.


Reference was made to the works of Dean, 2007; Jang, 2009 and Lewis, 2003 on work-life balance whereby it is mentioned that there is a balance between individuals’ workplace, household, and other aspects of life has developed over time in accordance with Wu, Claiborne, & McCarthy (2013). Besides that, Wu, Claiborne, & McCarthy (2013) mentioned that work-life balance encompassed broader activities than work-family conflict and was keen on gender equality in general.

Khairunneezam et al. (2017) emphasized that work-life balance is a pertinent issue among university academics in this realm. The same researchers mentioned that global and national continuous development in education produces significant challenges for higher education and academics. Khairunneezam (2017) referred to the study done by Lasanowski (2009) as well as Arshad (2007) which mentioned globalization, internationalization of education, and societal and industrial demands as well as the Government intervention policies are among the issues affecting higher education and academics.

Concerning the study conducted by Khairunneezam (2017), work-life balance in higher education is elaborated as the belief that balances a successful career with a personal life or family life which may be challenging and impact a person’s satisfaction in their work and personal life’s roles including academics in higher education. Besides that, Khairunneezam (2017) also touched on the multiple workplace roles by academics alongside organization and community pressures are likely to be viewed by them as important triggers influencing their state of perceived work-life balance satisfaction. It is also strongly supported by Khairunneezam (2017) that it is hard to find any research on work-life balance in Malaysia, particularly in the Malaysian higher education sector context. Thus, Khairunneezam (2017) in the study carried out, yielded the result of three (3) key factors (1) working overtime and on weekends, (2) the importance of family support, and (3) the impacts of work towards life or vice versa, indeed leading to academicians’ satisfaction with work-life balance related study. To make things even tougher for the academicians, the Ministry of Higher Education implements the ongoing improved key-performance indicators (KPI) on academics especially affecting those engaging in public higher education institutions in which the academicians may regard such happening as a potential threat to their ability in balancing the aspects of work and life faced.

In conclusion, based on the review of literature conducted as per above, studies dealing with job satisfaction specifically in the public higher educational institution located at Kuching and Samarahan have not been studied in detail, and, thus, this study area requires more attention and shall be addressed by researches.

Conceptual Framework

The conceptual framework of the current study is depicted as follows, comprising of independent variables of work time, income, organizational support, job value, and burnout which provides details on how each of these variables influence job satisfaction, with the medicating factor of work-life balance to be further examined among the academicians of the public higher education institutions based in Kuching and Kota Samarahan, Sarawak.

The Hypotheses Development

This section discusses the hypotheses development for this study by drawing insight from various literature related to Work-Life Balance and Job-Related Factors. There are altogether ten hypotheses,

Wanger (2017) mentioned that working time arrangements are key elements of working conditions and determine the possibilities for employees to balance work with their other life spheres. As such worker-friendly working time arrangements may be able to increase levels of satisfaction apart from leading to stress reduction, insecurity as well as mental pressure. On the other hand, satisfaction levels of academicians may be reduced in the vent of atypical working time arrangements persist which involve unpaid overtime and working shifts, weekends, and under high intensity. Therefore in this study, it is hypothesized that:

    • H1 – There is a significant, negative correlation between work time and job satisfaction.

The main results obtained by the study carried out by Wanger (2017) indicate that individual time sovereignty is positively linked with a high level of working time satisfaction. It is further supported by the result of the study carried out by Wanger (2017) that with longer working hours, the average satisfaction drops.

The happiness of a working individual is dependent upon relative income in this is becoming one of the most interesting ideas associated with social science. This may be further elaborated when an individual’s earnings drop relative to the level of comparison made, the individual will subsequently feel relatively unhappy or less satisfied. Therefore, in this present study, it is hypothesized that:

    • H2 - There is a significant, positive correlation between income and job satisfaction

Andrew Clark and Andrew Oswald (1995) carried out a study whereby workers’ reported satisfaction levels were shown to be negatively related to their comparison earnings levels, which is the opposite of the hypothesis developed in this study conducted among the academicians in the public higher educational institutions located in Sarawak. Moreover, the researchers, Andrew Clark and Andrew Oswald (1995) emphasized that their study revealed that absolute income, y, shows no sign of being positively correlated with job satisfaction which is contrary to what a Microeconomics textbook would predict.

Eisenberger, R., Cummings J., Armeli S., and Lynch, P. (1997) on the other hand, mentioned that favorable job conditions should increase overall job satisfaction even when they result from actions dictated by outside circumstances. Based on this research, the related example refers to a pay raise due to an increase in the government-mandated minimum wage would be expected to increase job satisfaction. Moreover, the same researchers further include the failure to receive an expected pay raise, if understood to result from the organization’s financial difficulties, should reduce job satisfaction without having much effect on Perceived Organizational Support, POS. Another relevant example in the study carried out by Eisenberger, R., Cummings J., Armeli S., and Lynch, P. (1997) referred to favorable pay and physical working conditions resulting from a union strike would be more likely to increase job satisfaction than to increase Perceived Organizational Support (POS).

Amir Sadeghi (2012) in his findings, mentioned that academicians in the Research Universities (RUs) are found to be under more pressure when compared to lecturers attached to other public universities. This may be deduced by high criteria expectations from high teaching standards, quality research as well as a need to commercialize products as imposed by the Research Universities. Therefore, the salary of the RU’s staff which is deemed to be similar to lecturers attached to other public universities, found their income to be in a state of inequality, and thus, are not highly satisfied with the salary earned.

Concerning the study conducted by Kian-Sam Hong, Jia-Mien Lim, Kock-Wah Tan, and Abang Ekhsan Abang Othman (2012), it is found that academicians are found to be less satisfied with factors of (1) promotion as well as (2) pay and benefits.

Organizational support which is perceived highly by employees would be able to meet several needs such as approval, esteem, and social identity. In the study we propose, the following is hypothesized:

    • H3 - There is a significant, positive correlation between organizational support and job satisfaction

Based on the study carried out by Eisenberger, R., Cummings J., Armeli S., and Lynch, P. (1997), they highlighted that Perceived Organizational Support (POS) and overall job satisfaction were found to be strongly related but distinct constructs. The favourableness of high-discretion job conditions was more strongly related to POS than was the favourableness of low-discretion job conditions. Moreover, the same researches suggest that both POS and job satisfaction might create a felt obligation to repay the organization. The example as suggested by the researchers would be imposing a new policy allowing employees several days off from work annually for personal reasons could be presented as being designed to increase employee satisfaction. Apart from that, the researchers also include the example in the situation whereby an employer experiencing a decline in profits that prevents giving traditional bonuses might brief employees on this problem, including access to financial information necessary to make the claim credible.

In regards to the study carried out by Ashley O’Donoghue, Edel Conway, and Janine Bosak (2016) as discussed above, those researches have come out with the hypothesis of below, which is somehow related to the present study that we are conducting of in regard to organizational support:

    • Employee perceptions of abusive supervision are positively related to employee burnout

Apart from that, this hypothesis developed for the present study is further supported by Amat Senin Aslan, Muhammad Zeeshan Shaukat, Ishfaq Ahmed, Ishak Mad Shaha, and Mastura Mahfar (2014) which supports the perceived organizational support (POS) is positively related to employee’s job satisfaction.

In the study carried out by Caroline D. Ayap and Julie A. Macalalad (2016), it is highlighted that consideration shall be given to very important values focused on intellectual achievement-oriented, familial, and inter-personal while the remaining subscales of work values are deemed to be important. Work values of their respondents are greatly influenced by factors including age, length of service, monthly income, and educational attainment; in the study carried out by those researchers. On the other hand, responses on job satisfaction are influenced by age and length of service, while other factors of gender, civil status, monthly income as well as educational attainment are not significant. As such, the study conduct by the same researchers, thus, emphasizes on the relationship of employees in the company studied between work values and job satisfaction are environmental and intellectual achievement, both, significant. As such, we would like to propose the following hypothesis for our present study:

    • H4 - There is a significant, positive correlation between job value and job satisfaction

Jelena Ogresta, Silvia Rusac, and Lea Zorec (2008) carried out the research which yielded the outcome of when the correlation between burnout and job satisfaction dimensions was examined, all three burnout syndrome dimensions comprising of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment; were significantly correlated with the work climate satisfaction. Moreover, they found out that while emotional exhaustion and depersonalization were moderately correlated with work climate satisfaction, personal accomplishment, and work climate satisfaction were correlated to a low but significant degree. Furthermore, in their findings as well, they mentioned that of other job satisfaction dimensions, only reward satisfaction was negatively correlated with emotional exhaustion. The following is the hypothesis that we would like to propose in the study to be carried out:

    • H5 - There is a significant, negative correlation between burnout and job satisfaction

The moderating factor of work-life balance

    • H6a -Work-life balance moderates the relationship between work time and job satisfaction
    • H6b -Work-life balance moderates the relationship between income and job satisfaction
    • H6c -Work-life balance moderates the relationship between organizational support and job satisfaction
    • H6d -Work-life balance moderates the relationship between job value and job satisfaction
    • H6e -Work-life balance moderates the relationship between burnout and job satisfaction

The hypothesis developed from H6a-H6e is further supported by Wu, Claiborne, & McCarthy (2013) who emphasized that several measures have facilitated work-life balance inclusive of flexible working arrangements as well as telecommuting were reported to relate to changes in job satisfaction concerning the study carried out by Kelliher & Anderson (2010) as well as Virick, Dasilva & Arrington (2010).

Based on previous research, job-related factors of work time, income, organizational support, job value, and burnout thus, impose an impact on job satisfaction. The mechanism of moderating factor namely work-life balance requires further investigation to be made for this present study.

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