When and why skill variety influences employee job crafting. Regulatory focus and social exchange perspectives

Date20 February 2020
Published date20 February 2020
AuthorJie Li,Tomoki Sekiguchi,Jipeng Qi
Subject MatterHR & organizational behaviour,Industrial/labour relations,Employment law
When and why skill variety
influences employee job crafting
Regulatory focus and social exchange
Jie Li
Xian Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Suzhou, China
Tomoki Sekiguchi
Graduate School of Management, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan, and
Jipeng Qi
School of Economics and Management, Beijing Jiaotong University, Beijing, China
Purpose The literature on job crafting has paid scant attention to the role of skill variety, one dimension of
job characteristics, as a predictorof employee job crafting. Byintegrating regulatory focus and social exchange
perspectives with job crafting literature, the authors investigate how skill variety promotes employee job
crafting and the moderating roles of employees promotion focus and procedural justice climate.
Design/methodology/approach The authors conducted two questionnaire surveys, one with a sample of
205 employees from a variety of organizations in China, and the other one with a sample of 265 employees
within 44 work groups at a state-owned enterprise in China, to examine the hypotheses.
Findings Results suggest that a high level of skill variety within a job promotes employee job crafting, that
such an effect is stronger when the employees promotion focus is high rather than low, and that procedural
justice climate mitigates the negative influence of a low level of promotion focus.
Originality/value The authorsfindings suggest that both self-regulatoryand social exchange mechanisms
play a critical role in promoting employee job crafting when individuals are engaged in jobs that entail a high
level of skill variety.
Keywords Job crafting, Skill variety, Promotion focus, Procedural justice climate
Paper type Research paper
In recent decades, the top-down fashion of job design has hardly been adaptable to the
decentralized workplace (Crant, 2000). Organizations need their employees to make initiative
changes in the ever-changing environment. In other words, instead of passively accepting
their job assignments, employees should actively optimize and modify their job components
and work roles (Bell and Staw, 1989). By doing so, employees proactively engage in the job
craftingprocess of sculpting and altering their jobs (Wrzesniewski et al., 2013). Job crafting
refers to the physical and cognitive changes individuals make in the task or relational
boundaries of their work(Wrzesniewski and Dutton, 2001, p. 179) and consists of three
forms: changing the task boundaries of the job (e.g. the number, scope, or types of job tasks
performed at work), altering the relational boundaries of the job (e.g. the quality and/or
amount of interaction with others at work), and modifying the cognitive task boundaries of
the job (e.g. the meaning and significance of the job).
We acknowledge the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China
(71702095), the Humanity and Social Science Youth Foundation of Ministry of Education of China
(17YJC630076), and the Grants for Excellent Graduate Schools, MEXT, Japan. We appreciate Professor
Kristopher J. Preachers helpful suggestions on the statistical issues.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 7 June 2019
Revised 2 December 2019
Accepted 17 December 2019
Employee Relations: The
International Journal
Vol. 42 No. 3, 2020
pp. 662-680
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/ER-06-2019-0240
Recent studies have suggested that job crafting is widespread across a variety of
occupations and that most employees have at least some latitude to sculpt the boundaries
of their jobs (Zhang and Parker, 2019). Furthermore, job crafting may produce a number of
positive effects, including employee subjective well-being, job satisfaction, organizational
commitment, work engagement, job performance, and career success (Petrou et al., 2017;
Romeo et al., 2019;Wang et al., 2018). In essence, the extant literature suggests that by
crafting jobs, employees achieve a better fit between their jobs and themselves and inspire
initiative in the workplace (Berg et al., 2013).
Due to job craftings value to employees and their organizations, researchers have
investigated what job-related factors motivate employees to craft their jobs (M
et al., 2017). However, most research focuses on job autonomy, which reflects employees
perceived freedom to change the boundaries of the job (Petrou et al., 2012). Research is
required to understand what other job characteristics can promote employee job crafting and
to identify the mechanisms that are involved in the motivational process (Zhang and Parker,
2019). To address this research gap, this paper focuses on an important, yet underexplored,
dimension of job characteristics that may predict employee job crafting, namely, skill variety.
Skill variety refers to the extent to which a job requires employees to use a wide range of
skills, talents, and activities in performing the work (Hackman and Oldham, 1975).
In the present research, we integrate regulatory focus (Higgins, 1998) and social exchange
(Blau, 1964) perspectives with job crafting literature to understand when and why skill
variety influences employee job crafting. Specifically, we theorize the direct effect of skill
variety on job crafting based on the premise that perceived challenges and opportunities
make employees experience more meaningfulness (Hackman and Oldham, 1980). Because
crafting a high skill variety job is risky and challenging, either internal (individual
differences) or external (work context) factor motivates employees engage in job crafting. We
then examine the boundary conditions: The first one is promotion focus as one dimension of
self-regulatory focus (Higgins, 1998) that determines whether an employee wants to use the
opportunities to promote themselves. The second one is procedural justice climate that
reflects the social exchange relationship between employees and their work groups, which
determines whether the employees are willing to contribute to groups and organizations
(Tyler and Lind, 1992). Figure 1 shows our theoretical model.
This article aims to advance the theory of job crafting in a meaningful way. First, by
focusing on skill variety with respect to a job, this research contributes to the deeper
understanding of the role of employeesperceived challenges and opportunities to stretch
their skills and talents as a critical predictor of job crafting. Next, we theorize and empirically
examine the different mechanismsnamely, the regulatory focus and the social exchange
processesthat interactively influence the effect of skill variety on employee crafting. We
show that employees might react to the perceived challenges and opportunities to stretch
Procedural Justice Climate
Promotion Focus
Job Crafting Skill Variety
Level 2 (Group-level) Variable
Level 1 (Individual-level) Variables
Figure 1.
Hypothesized model
Employee job

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT