Getting What the Occupation Gives: Exploring Multilevel Links Between Work Design and Occupational Values


  • We thank Michael Burke for serving as Editor on this manuscript. We also thank Kristopher Preacher and Kemp Ellington for their feedback and support.

Correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to Erich C. Dierdorff, Department of Management, Driehaus College of Business, DePaul University, 1 East Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60604-2287;


The history of work design research is voluminous and compelling. Thousands of studies have demonstrated the wide-reaching and powerful impact the design of work can have on a host of meaningful outcomes. Yet, absent in much of this research is an explicit consideration of the context within which work is performed and how this context might impact work design. Drawing from the theory of work adjustment, we describe the different ways in which occupations are linked to work design. In a sample of 805 individuals from 230 occupations, our multilevel examinations show the occupational-level values of achievement, independence, altruism, status, and comfort are related to a variety of work characteristics. In addition, we found that work characteristics are key mechanisms through which these occupational values affect individual-level job satisfaction. Implications of these results for work design theory and practice are discussed.