I can't get no job satisfaction: Meta-analysis comparing permanent and contingent workers


  • A preliminary version of this meta-analysis was presented at the annual meeting of the Administration Sciences Association of Canada, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, June 2009.

Christa L. Wilkin, Department of Management, California State University, Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, California, 91330, U.S.A. E-mail: christa.wilkin@csun.edu


Scholars are concerned that contingent workers experience more adverse psychological job outcomes than permanent employees, but the empirical work on job satisfaction is mixed. The purpose of this study was to quantitatively summarize the potential mean differences in job satisfaction between contingent workers and permanent employees. Meta-analytic results from 72 primary studies (N = 237 856) suggest that compared with permanent employees, contingent workers experience lower job satisfaction (d = −0.21); but when outlying primary studies are removed, the mean difference is small but significant (d = −0.06). Methodological artifacts explain small but significant differences in job satisfaction but do not account for much variance. Moderator analyses support previous findings that contingent workers are not a homogeneous group; some contingent workers (e.g., agency workers) experience lower job satisfaction than permanent employees, whereas the job satisfaction of other contingent workers (e.g., contractors) is similar to permanent employees. The findings have implications for increasing our understanding of job satisfaction by showing that job satisfaction appears to vary by employment type. Practical implications suggest that extending human resource practices to contingent workers may increase their job satisfaction, which has been shown to influence job performance, citizenship behaviors, and turnover. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.