The moderating role of intrinsic
work value orientation on the
dual-process of job demands
and resources among
Luo Lu and Hui Yen Lin
Department of Business Administration,
National Taiwan University, Taipei City, Taiwan
Department of Psychology, Peking University, Beijing, China, and
Department of Politics and Sociology, Lingnan University, Hong Kong, China
Purpose –The moderating roles of personal resources in the Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) model
are relatively rarely examined, especially in non-western countries. The purpose of this paper is to
investigate the moderating effect of a personal resource (i.e. intrinsic work value orientation) on the
relationships between job demands, job resources, and job satisfaction among a large sample of
Chinese employees from both mainland China and Taiwan.
Design/methodology/approach –Structured questionnaire survey was carried out to collect data
from 402 employees in mainland China and 306 employees in Taiwan.
Findings –The authors found that intrinsic work value orientation amplified the negative relationship
between work constraints (a job demand) and job satisfaction. Meanwhile, intrinsic work value
orientationstrengthened the positiverelationship between autonomy (a job resource) and job satisfaction.
Originality/value –This is one of the few studies that explored the role of personal resources in the
JD-R model. One unique contribution of the study is that the authors extended the JD-R model
to include the intrinsic work value orientation as a resourceful work value for Chinese employees in
two major Chinese societies. Based upon the findings, the authors suggest that personal resources such
as work value orientation should be taken into account in the research of the JD-R model. Managerial
implications of the findings are also discussed.
Keywords Chinese employees, Job satisfaction, JD-R model, Work value orientation
Paper type Research paper
Work stress has been one of the most significant issues of modern societies, therefore,
organizational behavior scholars have garnered rising interest in the work
stressor-strain process. However, almost all of the work stress theories are developed
and empirically tested in western industrialized countries (see review by Rosen et al.,
2010). A major limitation in the occupational stress literature is thus the lack of rigorous
research embedded in different cultural contexts. As the Greater China Region constitutes
nearly a quarter of the world’s population and is under rapid economic and social
changes, it provides a suitable context to test and extend western work stress theories.
International Journal of Workplace
Vol. 8 No. 2, 2015
© Emerald Group PublishingLimited
Received 23 November 2013
Revised 4 March 2014
8 April 2014
Accepted 18 July 2014
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
In writing up this paper, the first and second authors were supported by a grant from the
National Science Council, Taiwan, NSC101-2410-H-002-197-MY2.
The Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) model
Following a comprehensive review of the work stress literature, Bakker, Demerouti and
coworkers proposed the JD-R model which delineates the dual underlying psychological
processes in work contexts, namely, the health impairment process and the motivational
process (Bakker and Demerouti, 2007; Bakker et al., 2003; Demerouti et al., 2001). Job
demands refer to physical, psychological, social, or organizational aspects of the job that
require sustained physical and/or psychological (cognitive and emotional) effort or skills
(Bakker and Demerouti, 2007). Job demands consume individual resources to meet those
requirements which might result in employees’mental and physical deterioration, thus
settinginan“impairment process.”Job resources refer to physical, psychological, social,
or organizational aspects of the job that are either/or functional in achieving work goals,
reducing job demands and the associated physiological and psychological costs, or
stimulating personal growth, learning, and development (Bakker and Demerouti, 2007).
Job resources may motivate employees to pursue more challenging tasks and to perform
better, thus setting in a “motivational process.”
Research on the JD-R model has provided empirical support for the dual-process,
across occupations and industries (see reviews by Bakker and Demerouti, 2007;
Bakker and Evangelia, 2008; Van den Heuvel et al., 2010). For example, job demands
(e.g. work pressure, emotional demands and changes in tasks) are the most significant
predictors of health problems (Bakker et al., 2007; Hakanen et al., 2008), exhaustion
(Xanthopoulou et al., 2007), reduced job satisfaction (Lu et al., 2010), and reduced job
performance (Lu et al., 2010) for both the Chinese and western employees. However,
while most existing studies focussed on the physical and psychological aspects of job
demands, such as workload and emotional demands, other potentially demanding
aspects of the work environment have received less research attention. We believe that
work constraints represent an important feature of the work environment which
deserves more exploration in the impairment process of the JD-R model. As defined by
Spector and Jex (1998), any events or situations at work which prevent employees from
transforming efforts and capabilities to high performance can be considered as work
constraints. Work constraints have been found to hamper performance, raise feelings
of frustration (Peters and O’Connor, 1980), increase job dissatisfaction and turnover
intention (Carsten and Spector, 1987; Villanova and Roman, 1993). It is conceivable
that work constraints might force employees to work harder and longer to make up for
the insufficient supply of equipment, consumables, information, training, and
manpower, thus heighten strains. Therefore, work constraints are used to indicate
job demands in the present study.
Regarding the motivational process of the JD-R model, existing research has
confirmed that job resources have motivational potential and are likely to induce higher
work engagement (Bakker and Demerouti, 2007; Bakker and Evangelia, 2008; Van den
Heuvel et al., 2010). In both the theoretical underpinning of the JD-R model (e.g. Bakker
and Demerouti, 2007) and its subsequent empirical research (e.g. Van den Heuvel et al.,
2010), autonomy is formulated as a key job resource, often operationalized as job control
(Mauno et al., 2007) or skill discretion and decision authority (Xanthopoulou et al.,2007).
Autonomy refers to employees’ability to make their own decisions and the degree of
control they have over work independence (Hackman and Oldham, 1975). The beneficial
effect of autonomy is one of the most robust findings of research on the JD-R model in the
West. For example, autonomy was found to lead to higher levels of work engagement,
job satisfaction, more organizational citizenship behaviors, better job performance, and
lower exhaustion (Aube et al., 2007; Bakker and Evangelia, 2008; Van Prooijen, 2009).
In a two-year longitudinal study, job control proved to be the best lagged predictor of
work engagement for Finish health care personnel (Mauno et al., 2007).
Although the importance of work autonomy has been highlighted in western theories
and research such as the JD-R model and the Job Characteristics Model (Hackman and
Oldham, 1975), we believe its significance to the quality of work life is underrated in the
Chinese context. The idea of self-determinationatworkiscounterintuitivewhenviewedin
the context of the Chinese tradition of collectivism and large power distance (Hofstede,
2001). The cultural collectivism emphasizes interpersonal interdependence and prioritizing
group welfare over individual needs and desires (Oyserman et al., 2002). Power distance
describes the degree to which people in a society accept that power is distributed unequally
(Hofstede, 2001). Under the combined influences of cultural collectivism and large power
distance, Chinese employees normally have very few opportunities to exercise control at
work (Lu et al., 2003, 2008). However, with rapid social changes researchers have
now found that traditional (collectivism/respect for authority) and modern values
(individualism/equality) coexist in both mainland China and Taiwan (see reviews by Leung
and Bond, 2004; Lu and Yang, 2006). More importantly, the integration of traditional and
modern values is advantageous for the well-being of Chinese people living in a quickly
changing society (e.g. Lu, 2008; Lu et al., 2012), thus underlining the long overlooked
importance of autonomy in the Chinese work context. A nationwide survey in Taiwan
further revealed that a special form of autonomy, i.e., flexibility to allow employees
attending to family matters, greatly helped reduce work and family conflict (Lu et al., 2008).
Another study covering all three main Chinese societies (i.e. mainland China, Taiwan,
and Hong Kong) also found that autonomy was indeed beneficial for Chinese employees’
job performance (Lu et al., 2010). We thus focus on work autonomy, reflecting the extent
of perceived control at work with an attempt to highlight the emerging trend of
democratizing in the Chinese work context. We hypothesized that:
H1a. Work constraints as job demands will be negatively related to job satisfaction.
H1b. Work autonomy as a job resource will be positively related to job satisfaction.
Work value orientation as a personal resource in the JD-R model
The JD-R model was recently expanded to include personal resources (Bakker and
Evangelia, 2008; Van den Heuvel et al., 2010; Xanthopoulou et al., 2007). Personal resources
refer to an individual’s traits that are generally linked to resiliency (Hobfoll et al., 2003). So
defined, researchers have focussed on a variety of positive personality characteristics,
including self-efficacy, optimism, self-esteem, and resilience (van den Heuvel et al., 2010).
However, unlike the unequivocal support for the dual-process involving job demands
and job resources, roles of personal resources in the JD-R model are relatively
understudied and findings inconsistent so far. Bakker and Evangelia (2008) found that job
and personal resources are the main predictors of work engagement, and these resources
gain their salience in the context of high job demands, thus suggesting a buffer effect
of the resources. However, Xanthopoulou et al. (2007) found that personal resources did
not offset the relationship between job demands and exhaustion for Dutch employees. In
other words, they found no moderating (buffer) effects of personal resources. Recently,
some scholars have urged a rethinking of the role of personal resources in line with
the person-situation perspective (van den Heuvel et al., 2010). They suggested that as the
person and the work environment are mutually influencing each other, personal resources
may even function as vulnerability factors. One possible explanation for the disparate
theoretical and empirical standings is that personal resources are not always the buffer in
the stressor-work outcome relationship. In fact, researchers have found only modest
support for the “buffer hypothesis”of personal resources (Xanthopoulou et al., 2007).
De Jonge and Dormann (2006) therefore proposed that in general, the buffer effects of both
job and personal resources should only occur when similar types of demands match
similar types of resources. This is known as the “matching hypothesis.”Not all resources
can offset the detrimental effects of job demands. In certain specific stressful work
context, personal traits and characteristics might even worsen the impact of stressors.
For example, Lu et al. (2011) found that Chinese employees who were high in self-efficacy
were more vulnerable when encountering work situations which deprive them of control.
Thus, the right type of personal resources should be targeted to counter the damaging
effects of a specific job demand in a particular study.
Another problem of the research on personal resources in work stress is that a large
amount of studies have focussed on the buffering mechanisms of personality traits
(see review by Cooper et al., 2001), while the possibility of work-related values and
attitudes as moderators has been largely overlooked. As Lazarus and Folkman (1984)
argued, personal agenda (e.g. goals and beliefs) would account for a considerable amount
of variance in the work stress process. Work value orientation is one of such factors that
may alter the stressor-strain relationship. Previous occupational stress research has
indeed found some evidence for both direct and moderating effects of work values. For
instance, Lu and Lin (2002) showed that Taiwanese employees who endorsed higher work
values such as achievement, autonomy, and altruism, reported higher job satisfaction and
lower turnover intention. Focussing on a specific set of work values termed Chinese Work
Values (CWV), which has its root in the Confucian tradition and including values such as
collectivism, endurance, hard work, and guanxi, Huang et al. (1998) found that CWV
predicted job performance of workers in Taiwan and Hong Kong. CWV was also found to
attenuate the damaging effects of both workload and interpersonal conflict on job
satisfaction in a sample of employees from mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong
(Lu et al., 2011). In another study with Taiwanese workers, Lu (1999) demonstrated that
different work value orientations moderated relationships between stressors and strains
differently. Specifically, Taiwanese employees with higher intrinsic work value orientation
(e.g. valuing personal accomplishment, challenge at work, interesting jobs) suffered more
from anxiety symptoms when they were deprived of job autonomy, while those with
higher extrinsic work value orientation (e.g. valuing monetary reward, social status, job
security) suffered more from depressive symptoms when they were forced to take on a
heavy workload. Taken together, limited empirical evidence supports the beneficial effects
of certain work values, but the theoretical underpinning of the categorization of these
work values and their potential differential effects in work stress and adaptation need
greater attention. We thus explore the possibility of intrinsic work value orientation as
both a vulnerability factor and a buffer on the dual-process of the JD-R model.
Our reasoning is based on the theoretical perspective that views work values as
a coping resource (Roe and Ester, 1999). Specifically, employees who are high on certain
work values, such as achievement, hard work, and concern for others would focus more
on the content of their jobs and less affected by work stress (Hui, 1992; Lu, 1999).
Despite the plethora of labels, organizational researchers have empirically
distinguished intrinsic work value orientations, which are oriented toward self-
actualization and self-expression, from extrinsic work value orientations, which are
focussed on security and material acquisition (e.g. Alderfer, 1972; Gagné and Deci,
2005; Herzberg et al., 1959; Lu, 1999; Lu and Lin, 2002; Vansteenkiste et al., 2007),
although a number of other work value frameworks have been proposed (see Dose,
1997 for an overview). However, intrinsic work value orientation needs to be
distinguished from intrinsic work motivation (Gagné and Deci, 2005). There is evidence
that work environment can influence motivation, in the sense that people who are
granted autonomy at work are more likely to be intrinsically motivated as their
needs are met, rather than these factors being a preference for workers who come
with intrinsic motivation (Vansteenkiste et al., 2007). We thus define work value
orientation as the willingness to exert high levels of effort toward organizational goals,
conditioned by the person’s ability to satisfy individual needs (Lu, 1999). Specifically,
in line with the intrinsic/extrinsic dichotomy of work value orientations mentioned
above, an intrinsic work value orientation in the current study encompasses factors
that are intrinsic to the job (e.g. use of ability, interesting and challenging jobs,
Within the theoretical framework of the JD-R model, an intrinsic work value orientation,
such as setting self-fulfillment and self-growth as work goals, may function as a
vulnerability factor in the job demands-strain process, while function as a buffer in the job
resources-motivation process. This is possible because employees with a high intrinsic
work value orientation usually have higher performance expectations and greater
achievement needs (Latham, 2007). Therefore, when these employees encounter job
demands that impede these work goals, they may feel dissatisfied with the fear of not being
able to maintain high quality work outputs. Specifically, when employees with high
intrinsic work value orientation encounter job demands such as work constraints, they will
feel more frustrated as environmental constraints make task completion more difficult. On
the contrary, employees who have strong intrinsic work value orientation will thrive in a
work environment which grants them job control over their tasks in order to meet their
performance targets (Lu, 1999). Specifically, employees with high intrinsic work value
orientation will benefit more from job resources such as autonomy which facilitate task
completion. As Vansteenkiste et al. (2007) found, holding an extrinsic, relative to an intrinsic
work value orientation was detrimental to employees’job outcomes because such
orientation thwarted the satisfaction of the basic psychological needs for autonomy,
competence, and relatedness at work (Alderfer, 1972). We thus hypothesized:
H2a. Intrinsic work value orientation will exacerbate the negative relationship
between job demands (work constraints) and job satisfaction, such that the
relationship will be more negative for individuals with high intrinsic work
H2b. Intrinsic work value orientation will enhance the positive relationship between
job resources (work autonomy) and job satisfaction, such that the relationship
will be more positive for individuals with high intrinsic work value orientation.
Procedure and participants
We used a self-administered structured questionnaire to collect data from employees in
mainland China (PRC) and Taiwan. For the sample recruited in the PRC, a total of 540
questionnaires were distributed to employees in various industries in several cities, and
402 questionnaires were returned, making a response rate of 74.40 percent. The PRC
sample consisted of 209 males and 182 females (11 unidentified), with a mean age
of 31.90 years (SD ¼7.40 years). The mean of current job tenure was 4.30 years
(SD ¼5.20). For the sample recruited in Taiwan, a total of 520 questionnaires were
distributed to employees in various industries, and 306 questionnaires were returned,
making a response rate of 60 percent. The Taiwan sample consisted of 134 males and
172 females, with a mean age of 32.90 years (SD ¼6.70 years) and mean current job
tenure of 6.30 years (SD ¼6.30). Respondents were invited to participate through the
personnel manager or a contact person known to the researchers in each organization.
This designated person was responsible for distributing and retrieving the
questionnaires. The participants in the two regions were informed about the purpose
of the study and participation was in a voluntary basis.
The survey was administered in Chinese, and all the Chinese-version scales have been
back-translated and validated in previous studies with satisfactory reliability and
validity. These references will be given along with the original English version when
every scale is introduced below. The Cronbach αfor each scale for the current sample is
presented in Table I.
Job demands and resources. We used existing western scales to assess job demands
and resources: work constraints (11 items; Spector and Jex, 1998; e.g. “Without the
organizational resources, I can’t finish the task”); and autonomy (three items; Hackman
and Oldham, 1975, e.g. “I decide on my own how to go about doing the work”). Each
item was rated on a six-point scale (1 ¼less than once per month or never, 6 ¼several
times per day), with higher scores indicating higher work constraints and higher job
autonomy. The Chinese versions of the two scales were used in Lu et al.’s (2010) study
with good psychometric property.
Job satisfaction. Job satisfaction was assessed with a three-item scale developed by
Cammann et al. (1979). A sample item is “All in all, I am satisfied with my job”. Each
item was rated on a six-point scale (1 ¼strongly disagree, 6 ¼strongly agree), with
higher scores indicating higher job satisfaction. The Chinese version of this scale was
also used in Lu et al.’s (2010) study with good psychometric property.
Intrinsic work value orientation. Intrinsic work value orientation was measured with
four items comprising a subscale in the “Work values scale”(Hui, 1992) developed
in Chinese for Chinese workers, contrasting the extrinsic work value orientation
subscale (not used in this study). The stem reads “Considering an ideal job, how
important is each factor for you when you choose an ideal job?”The four factors listed
are: challenging tasks which provide a sense of accomplishment, realization of my
ideal, making use of my ability, and fitting my interest. Each item was rated on a six-
point scale (1 ¼unimportant, 6 ¼absolutely important), with high scores representing
higher intrinsic work value orientation. This scale was used in a study of Taiwan and
Hong Kong comparison, and yielded acceptable reliability and construct validity for
both Chinese samples via confirmatory factor analysis (Lin et al., 2013).
Variables Scale mean SD 1 2 3 4
1 Work constraints 2.13 0.99 0.93
2 Autonomy 4.17 1.04 −0.24*** 0.86
3 Intrinsic work value orientation 4.65 0.78 −0.09* 0.16*** 0.78
4 Job satisfaction 4.23 1.00 −0.37*** 0.41*** 0.04 0.78
Notes: n¼708. Diagonal is Cronbach’sα.*po0.05; ***po0.001
variables for the
The aim of the present study was to investigate the moderating effects of personal
resources (i.e. intrinsic work motivation) on the relationships between job demands, job
resources, and job satisfaction in the Greater China Region. Scale reliabilities were first
computed separately for the PRC and Taiwan sample, yielding acceptable coefficients
(ranging from 0.74-0.93) in both samples. The comparison of means (t-tests) revealed
that the only significant difference between the two regions was that employees in
Taiwan reported higher autonomy (t¼2.77, po0.01). Separate correlation analysis
among main variables was again first conducted in each of the two samples. This
analysis revealed generally similar patterns, with a small number of correlations being
significant in one sample but not in the other (these data may be obtained from the
authors). We thus repeated the analysis in the combined sample, and report results in
Table I, incorporating the means, standard deviations, and internal consistency α
coefficients of main variables. All relationships between work constraints, autonomy
and job satisfaction were significant and in the expected direction.
Before testing hypotheses, we examined differences in jobs. t-Tests revealed that
managers had more autonomy than non-managers (t¼2.75, po0.01), while
non-managers reported more constraints than managers (t¼3.68, po0.001).
Nonetheless, the two groups were not different in either intrinsic work value
orientation (t¼1.39, ns), or job satisfaction (t¼1.90, ns). We thus controlled for
differences in jobs in the subsequent hypotheses testing.
Following Baron and Kenny’s (1986) suggestion for testing and reporting moderating
effects, we conducted a series of hierarchical regression analysis to test the moderating
effects of work motivation on job demands-job satisfaction and job resources-job
satisfaction relationships while controlling for sex, marital status, tenure and position
(i.e. managers vs non-managers). We conducted four steps to predict job satisfaction. All
predictor variables were standardized to minimize multicollinearity among them
(Cohen et al., 2003). Interaction terms were then created from these standardized
predictors. First, we entered demographics as control variables. Second, we entered work
constraints (WC) or job autonomy (AU). Third, we entered intrinsic work value orientation
(IN). Finally, we entered the interaction terms (e.g. WC ×IN or AU ×IN).
In both regression analyses, work constraints and job autonomy showed significant
direct (main) effects on job satisfaction (Tables II and III). In agreement with H1a and
Step Predictor Standardized βR
1 Sex −0.02
Marital status 0.06
Position 0.08 0.02*
2 Work constraints (WC) −0.37*** 0.13***
3 Intrinsic work value orientation (IN) 0.07 0.01
4WC×IN −0.12** 0.01**
Notes: Sex: 0 ¼female, 1 ¼male; marital status: 0 ¼single, 1 ¼married; position: 0 ¼non-manager,
1¼manager. *po0.05; **po0.01; ***po0.001
value orientation as
the moderator of the
work constraints and
H1b, work constraints had a significant negative association with job satisfaction.
Meanwhile, autonomy had a significant positive association with job satisfaction.
Therefore, H1a and H1b were supported.
Results in Table II also showed that intrinsic work value orientation significantly
moderated the work constraints-job satisfaction relationship. The significant
interaction is then plotted in Figure 1. The negative relationship between work
constraints and job satisfaction is stronger (as demonstrated by the steeper regression
line) for people with high intrinsic work value orientation. Simple slope analysis
indicated that the two slopes significantly differed from each other (t¼−2.10, po0.05).
Results in Table III further showed that intrinsic work value orientation had a
significant moderating effect on the relationship between autonomy and job
satisfaction. The autonomy-job satisfaction relationship is more positive for
individuals with high intrinsic work value orientation (plotted in Figure 2). Simple
slope analysis indicated that the two slopes significantly differed from each other
(t¼2.21, po0.05). Therefore, H2a and H2b were supported.
Step Predictor Standardized βR
1 Sex −0.03
Marital status 0.05
Position 0.08 0.01
2 Autonomy (AU) 0.41*** 0.17***
3 Intrinsic work value orientation (IN) −0.03 0.00
4AU×IN 0.10** 0.01**
Notes: Sex: 0 ¼female, 1 ¼male; marital status: 0 ¼single, 1 ¼married; position: 0 ¼non-
manager, 1 ¼manager. **po0.01; ***po0.001
intrinsic work value
orientation as the
moderator of the
autonomy and job
low work constraints high work constraints
low intrinsic work value orientation
high intrinsic work value orientation
effect of intrinsic
orientation on the
work constraints and
The purpose of the present study was to test the moderating effects of intrinsic work
value orientation in the relationships between job demands (work constraints), job
resources (autonomy) and work outcomes (job satisfaction). Our focus on the moderating
effects of work value orientation as a personal resource is rare in the JD-R literature. One
more added value of the present study is that our pooled sample came from two major
Chinese societies (mainland China and Taiwan) representing the diversity in the Chinese
societies, while previous studies mostly covered only one society (e.g. Lu, 1999).
We found that job demands (work constraints) had a negative impact on job
satisfaction; and job resources (autonomy) had a positive impact on job satisfaction.
These findings were consistent with previous studies conducted in western societies
(e.g. Boyd et al., 2011; Wrzesniewski and Dutton, 2001). In other words, job demands
and resources are stable predictors of employees’work attitudes irrespective of their
cultural contexts. As predicted, our results confirmed that job demands damage
employees’job satisfaction, while job resources nurture employees’positive attitude
toward work (cf. Boyd, et al., 2011). Thus the main nexus of the JD-R model was
supported in our diverse sample of Chinese employees.
We also found that intrinsic work value orientation differentially moderated the job
demands-work outcomes and job resources-work outcomes relationships, specifically
on the work constraints, job autonomy and job satisfaction relationships (see Table II
and Figure 1, Table III and Figure 2). One the one hand, people who possess high
intrinsic work value orientation in the high work constraints condition had the lowest
job satisfaction. On the other hand, people who possess high intrinsic work value
orientation in the high work autonomy condition had the highest job satisfaction.
While previous studies focussed on contrasting intrinsic vs extrinsic work value
orientations and found the latter having detrimental effects on work outcomes
(Lin et al., 2013; Vansteenkiste et al., 2007), the present study take into account the
environmental factors (job demands vs resources) in clarifying the role of intrinsic work
value orientation as a personal resource in the overarching theoretical framework
of the JD-R model. Our findings support the “matching hypothesis”(De Jonge and
low autonomy high autonomy
low intrinsic work value orientation
high intrinsic work value orientation
effects of intrinsic
orientation on the
autonomy and job
Dormann, 2006), that argues the buffer effects of resources should only occur when
similar types of demands (e.g. emotional demands) match with similar types of
resources (e.g. emotional support). Not all resources can offset the detrimental effects of
job demands, and some resources may even worsen the impact of stressors. Previous
research has demonstrated that certain job resources such as social support could
buffer the negative impact of job demands (Xanthopoulou et al., 2007). We however,
found that intrinsic work value orientation as a personal resource, made employees
vulnerable when facing a work condition of high structural constraints. It is
conceivable that since people with high intrinsic work value orientation strive for goal
achievement, growth and self-actualization at work, they would be frustrated by
environmental constraints such as lack of sufficient equipments and materials to
complete the tasks. In effect, work constraints block their paths to success and
thwarted personal accomplishment, thus eliciting more intense negative reactions. In a
previous study of Taiwanese employees, such negative reactions were also manifested
as anxiety when those with intrinsic work value orientation were deprived of
work autonomy (Lu, 1999). However, employees with high intrinsic work value
orientation benefitted more from gaining job resources (autonomy) which facilitate task
completion. The positive side of having an intrinsic work value orientation was not
revealed in Lu’s (1999) earlier study.
Taken together, the exacerbating effect of intrinsic work value orientation on the
work constrains-job satisfaction relationship and the amplifying effect of intrinsic work
value orientation on the work autonomy-job satisfaction relationship seem to suggest
a role of “double-edged sword”for this largely overlooked work-related value. In a
recent study with Taiwanese employees, a similar role of “double-edged sword”was
identified for self-efficacy, a well-researched personal characteristic in the work stress
context (Lu et al., 2011). Specifically, these researchers found that self-efficacy
exacerbated the negative impact of lack of control (a stressor) on job satisfaction,
but buffered the negative impact of this stressor on job performance. These patterns
involving self-efficacy and those of our results pertaining to intrinsic work value
orientation are inconsistent with existing western findings. It is also worth noting that
the differential effects of intrinsic work value orientation found in the current study do
not vary for different jobs. Although it is true that managers had more autonomy and
non-managers were working under greater constraints, the moderation effects hold
after “job position”was accounted for in the regression equations. Thus, we need to
take an emic Chinese cultural perspective to understand the mechanisms underlying
such an intriguing differential effects of the intrinsic work value orientation.
In accordance with the Confucian tradition, most Chinese organizations institute a
well-structured and rigid authorization system. From the perspective of individuals
striving for personal fulfillment and growth (i.e. high intrinsic work value orientation
and/or high self-efficacy), the issue of “control”is a contagious one. Lack of the desired
level of control, whether caused by structural constraints or authoritative supervision,
may damage their job satisfaction to a greater degree, compared to those who are more
in tune with the dominant cultural value of obedience (Lu, 2006). In other words, those
individuals with higher self-expectations may be more prone to distress when
perceived control over their jobs/tasks is lower. However, the potential of such
individuals may be liberated and realized when they are granted control over their jobs/
tasks. As the role of personal resources is relatively understudied in research of the
JD-R model, we need to be cautious about the generalizability of the “double-edged
sword”thesis (cf. Lu et al., 2011) regarding intrinsic work value orientation.
Readers should also keep in mind that the present study has limitations. First, the
survey design was cross-sectional, thus no causal conclusions are legitimate. Second,
our survey was conducted using a self-report method. Self-assessed scales mainly tap
individual subjective experiences, which reflect the reality an individual observes
rather than the reality it actually exists (Podsakoff et al., 2003). Therefore, we conducted
the Harman’s single-factor test to determine whether there was a general factor beyond
the research variables that accounted for the majority of covariance among the
measures (Podsakoff et al., 2003). All items were entered into an exploratory factor
analysis with an unrotated principal axis factoring procedure, and six factors emerged
with eigenvaluesW1. The six factors together accounted for 69.91 percent of the
variance, and the first factor accounted for only 23.20 percent of the total variance.
Thus, common method variance was not a great concern, and it was unlikely to be
significantly confounding the interpretation of results in the present study.
In sum, the current study explored the moderating effects of intrinsic work value
orientation on relationships between job demands, job resources, and work outcomes in
non-western societies. Although there has been previous work on the impact of job
demands and job resources, our perspective is distinct in focussing on the moderating roles
of personal resources in the JD-R model, embedded in a Chinese work context. As we have
demonstrated in this study, work constraints would depress job satisfaction while
autonomy would enhance job satisfaction. Intrinsic work value orientation performed a
two-way moderating role in the relationships between work constraints, autonomy and job
satisfaction: exacerbating the damaging effects of job demands while enhancing the
beneficial effects of job resources. Thus, we suggest that organizations and managers can
take a dual-approach in re-designing jobs: to enhance autonomy and to remove constraints.
Furthermore, educating employees to be more aware of the pros and cons of their own
work-related values may help them better adjust to work situations, as work environment
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About the authors
Luo Lu, DPhil, University of Oxford, UK, is currently a Distinguished Professor in the
Department of Business Administration, National Taiwan University, Taiwan. Her major
research interests are: culture and self, stress and well-being, and organizational behaviors. She
has published more than 150 papers in referred journals. Professor Luo Lu is the corresponding
author and can be contacted at: email@example.com
Dr Hui Yen Lin, PhD, is at the National Taiwan University. The research fields of Lin include
work stress and human recourses. She has published several papers in referred journals.
Dr Chang-Qin Lu, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Politics and Sociology, at the Lingnan
University, Hong Kong. Her research focusses on work stress and leadership, with interests in the
joint roles of self-efficacy and workplace social support among stress process, spillover, and
cross-over effects of work-family conflict/balance, and issues in cross-cultural stress research.
Oi-Ling Siu, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Psychology, Peking University. Her
research focusses on work stress and coping, work-family conflict/balance, and issues in cross-
cultural stress research.
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