Individual differences in work behaviour of blue-collar workers : a study of rubber tappers in Malaysia
This thesis examines individual differences in work behaviour of rubber tappers. The study examined sex, age, experience and race differences and their interactions with terrain on job performance, absenteeism, and job satisfaction of 1053 rubber tappers. Rubber tappers are unskilled blue-collar workers who essentially do the same type of work and are paid the same rates of pay. There are very few studies that have compared male and female blue-collar workers doing similar jobs in organisational settings. This study is one of the few investigations that examine sex differences in job performance of blue-collar workers doing same job using production data. Studies on age differences in work behaviour encounter numerous methodological difficulties such as high turnover, internal transfers and problems associated with age differences in educational levels. The participation of rubber tappers in this study is envisaged to overcome these difficulties because attrition rates of rubber tappers are low, and internal transfers are non existent. Further, the educational levels of rubber tappers are relatively similar across different age cohorts, as most rubber tappers have little or no education. Two measures of both job performance and absenteeism were derived from payroll records. The two job performance measures were total crop production and attendance. The two absenteeism measures were avoidable and unavoidable absence rates. Overall job satisfaction was determined using a 4-item scale. Significant sex, age, experience and race differences were obtained for job performance, absenteeism and job satisfaction. Significant interactive effects were also obtained for sex, age , experience, race and terrain for job performance and absenteeism. The results are discussed in relation to the abilities and motivation of rubber tappers. The implication of these findings for employee selection and human resource management in rubber estates is discussed.