The meaningfulness of work : improving the quality of work life through job enrichment
The study reported in this thesis investigated individual Library Assistant's perceptions and attitudes towards their work. One objective of the study was to discover if work had meaning to Library Assistants, working in University libraries, other than that of earning a living or money. It was discovered that most Library Assistants perceive that money is more important than the work itself and that library work is not intellectually stimulating or challenging. It was also discovered that their willingness to continue in the same job, after acquiring a lot of money e.g. pools money, was dependent on age and qualification. The thesis is divided into eight chapters. The first chapter provides an introduction in which the Investigator provides background information about work and its meaning. He also explains the general purpose and objectives of the study. Definitions and meanings of some of the key concepts used in the thesis are given. The Investigator takes the view that employment work is an activity in an institutionalised exchange relationship and that it belongs to the formal rather than informal economy. In a narrower sense employment work can be viewed as a way of earning a living and in a broader sense it is a way of self expression, where self image for the employee is sustained by providing opportunities for achievement and recognition. Chapter Two gives an idea about how the literature search was conducted and it provides an extensive literature review of the main topics related to the study. A critical evaluation of some of the research approaches and findings is given. The Investigator argues that the research instruments used by some library and information researchers, borrowed from the social sciences, have sometimes been inflexible and not quite suitable for use in library conditions. The main criticism is that library and information researchers have not developed their own research instruments for the investigation of problems relating to library and information work. Chapter Three provides the methodological approach in which the Investigator discusses his research instrument (CAIn), research procedures and hypotheses to be tested. Six main and five ancillary hypotheses were tested. Chi-Square and reliability tests were carried out in order to test hypotheses and the internal consistency reliability of CAIn. Chapter Four provides first stage data analysis where the perceptions of the Library Assistants are reported and analysed. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches were used to analyse the data. The observation in this chapter is that most Library Assistants are dissatisfied with their promotional opportunities and pay. Although they are happy with their supervision, they consider that they are often not involved in the main stream decision making processes of the library. Chapter Five contains the hypotheses and reliability test for the research instrument. Some of the results point to the fact that job position, at library assistant level, is independent of length of service. This led to the conclusion that if the University Libraries were not promoting internally they were appointing externally hence the perceived lack of internal mobility. On the other hand, sex and age appeared to have influence on the view people held about work as a means to an end. More men than women viewed work as a means to an end. Where age was concerned the older one got the more significant work became. A general discussion is found in Chapter Six where issues relating to professionalism and its influence upon the Library Assistants' perceptions of their jobs, the work structure, rewards, autonomy and the meaning of work are raised. The Library Assistants perceive that a less hierarchical library structure is preferable to a hierarchical one. There appears to be a belief among these people that the professionalisation of the library occupation was responsible for the hierarchy which now exists. This Investigator argues that a conflict which might develop between the professionals and the non-professionals as a result of unfulfilled aspirations or demands for the professionalisation of librarianship will not help improve the position or status of the Library Assistant. Chapter Seven provides conclusion and summary while Chapter Eight gives some recommendations. It is recommended that further studies should be done in order to investigate in more detail the problem of pay satisfaction and promotion. There is also a need to re-assess the work roles and responsibilities of all library and information workers with a view to redesign jobs. A Three Tier Organisational Structure which emphasises an autonomous work groups approach is recommended.