Promoting employee job crafting at work: the roles of motivation and team context

Date20 November 2019
Publication Date20 November 2019
AuthorJeong Won Lee,Youjeong Song
SubjectHR & organizational behaviour,Global HRM
Promoting employee job crafting
at work: the roles of motivation
and team context
Jeong Won Lee
School of Business, Yonsei University, Seoul, The Republic of Korea, and
Youjeong Song
Carlson School of Management,
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA
Purpose Despite receiving much attention in recent job design literature, job crafting research has
neglected motivational and multilevel perspectives, limiting the understanding of how to foster employee job
crafting. Drawing on job crafting and self-determination theory, the purpose of this paper is to explore
individual- and team-level predictors and the mechanisms involved in employeesjob change behaviors. The
authors propose that employeesintrinsic motivation and two team-level properties team knowledge
sharing and trust have important roles to play.
Design/methodology/approach The multilevel data were collected from 311 employees from 62 work
teams in Korean companies. Hierarchical linear modeling analysis was used. A supplementary data collected
from 162 individuals working in the USA were used for analysis.
Findings The results showed that intrinsic motivation and team knowledge sharing are positively related
to job crafting. In addition, intrinsic motivation mediated the relationship between team knowledge and
individual job crafting. Finally, team trust was shown to play a cross-level moderating role, strengthening the
positive relationship between employeesintrinsic motivation and job crafting.
Originality/value Applying motivational and multilevel perspectives, this paper uncovers the roles of
individual motivation and team context in fostering employee job crafting. This study helps to extend the
theoreticaldomains of job crafting and providespractical insights into how to promoteemployeesjob crafting.
Keywords Quantitative, Trust, Knowledge sharing, Intrinsic motivation, Multilevel analysis, Job crafting,
Team context
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Well-designed job s increase both employe esand an organizationswell-being(Grantand
Parker, 2009; Oldham and Hackman, 2010). In recent job designliterature, job crafting, which
refers to the changes that employeesmake in shaping and redefining theirjobs to make them
fit better with personal needs and abilities (Tims and Bakker, 2010; Wrzesniewski and
Dutton, 2001), has gained much attention. Different from a traditional top-down approach to
job design, job crafting represents employeesmore proactive and individualized efforts in
altering their jobs to improve their work meaningfulness (Berg et al., 2013). Previous s tudies
have provided empirical evidence that job crafting is positively related to critical work
outcomes, suchas employee well-being, job satisfaction and task and contextual performance
(Leana et al., 2009; Rastogi and Chaudhary, 2018; Tims et al.,2015;TresiandMihelič, 2018).
Hence, examining how to foster job crafting at work is important for organizations to
positively affect the lives of employees as well as workplace prosperity.
Job crafting research, however, has mainly focused on the consequences of job crafting,
and thus there have been calls for exploring what facilitates employeesengagement in
crafting their jobs at work (Berg, Grant and Johnson, 2010; Berg, Wrzesniewski and
Dutton, 2010;Tims et al., 2012; Kooij et al., 2017). Althoughrecent studies have examinedhow
to promote employeejob crafting (e.g. Lichtenthaler and Fischbach, 2018), in several respects
we still have a limited understanding of how it works. First, although job crafting theory
Personnel Review
Vol. 49 No. 3, 2020
pp. 689-708
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/PR-07-2018-0261
Received 22 July 2018
Revised 14 June 2019
Accepted 4 August 2019
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
employee job
crafting at work
emphasizes the role of individual motivation in fostering employee job crafting (e.g. Niessen
et al., 2016; Wrzesniewski and Dutton, 2001),its influences have rarely been uncovered.When
considering the critical nature of job crafting, which requires employeesproactive and
personalized efforts to intentionally change their job boundaries (Tims and Bakker, 2010;
Wrzesniewski and Dutton, 2001), it is important to understand whether and how employees
motivation plays a role.
Furthermore, it is necessary to consider the role of social context and a more nuanced
multilevel perspective in job crafting (Berg et al., 2013; Grant and Parker, 2009;
Rudolph et al., 2017). Most workers perform their work in teams (Hirst et al., 2009), and
thus job crafting increasingly occurs in the context of teams with interdependent tasks
(Berg, Grant and Johnson, 2010; Berg, Wrzesniewski and Dutton, 2010; Wrzesniewski and
Dutton, 2001). This implies that in crafting their jobs, employees are influenced byothers
within the team, and team context can serve as an opportunity or a constraining condition
for individual job crafting efforts. Moreover, while considering social context, collective
perceptions of the context are considered more important than individual perspective,
leading to recent calls for higher levels of analysis (e.g. team-level) when predicting
individual job behaviors (Diestel et al., 2014). Recent job crafting research has started to
consider a socially embedded perspective, which suggests that jobs and roles are
embedded in the social structure at work (e.g. Berg, Grant and Johnson, 2010;
Berg, Wrzesniewski and Dutton, 2010; Sekiguchi et al., 2017). However, this perspective
still neglects the role of team context from a multilevel approach.
To broaden our understanding of these matters, we incorporate self-determination
theory (SDT) into job crafting theory, and explore the individual- and team-level factors and
mechanisms needed for facilitating employee job crafting. SDT states that individuals will
develop more autonomous types of motivation (e.g. intrinsic motivation), which, in turn, will
lead to proactivity and engagement when basic psychological needs (i.e. autonomy,
competence and relatedness) are fulfilled (Deci and Ryan, 1985, 2000). In particular, SDT
presumes that enhancement of individual motivation requires a supportive social
environment, and focuses on investigating contextual factors that facilitate or undermine
individual motivation. This can complement job crafting theory, which has taken more
agentic and static views (Wrzesniewski and Dutton, 2001). Although job crafting theory
suggests that individual motivation sparks job crafting, it rarely discusses explicitly
situational conditions that have significant influences on motivation. Thus, by integrating
the two theories, we aim to promote a more comprehensive understanding of the roles of
individual motivation and team-level social contexts in employeesjob crafting behaviors.
In this study, we focus on intrinsic motivation as one type of autonomous motivation and
investigate whether it fosters individual job crafting at work. Furthermore, based on the
notion that work context can provide employees with resources and/or opportunities for job
crafting behaviors (Wrzesniewski and Dutton, 2001; Tims et al., 2012), we propose team
knowledge sharing and team trust as two critical team properties. A work context that
provides resources can directly foster employee job crafting since it is related to work goals
and stimulates personal growth and learning (Bakker and Demerouti, 2007). In contrast,
a work context that provides opportunities for job crafting is related to employees
discretion and interacts with their motivation to engage in job crafting (Wrzesniewski and
Dutton, 2001) rather than exerting direct influence. We suggest that team knowledge
sharing, which provides informational and learning resources, can be a representative form
of the former work context (i.e. resource providing), while team trust serves as a facilitative
opportunity for job crafting, the latter form of context (i.e. opportunity providing), so that
employees with high intrinsic motivation will maximize their efforts in this context. Figure 1
presents our theoretical model, and our motivational and multilevel approaches will help to
extend the theoretical domains of job crafting and provide practical insights into how to

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