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Perceived need satisfactions of workers in isolated environments Cram, John Murray

Abstract

A review of the literature on work environments suggests that workers in specific settings will have specific and unique job satisfactions. Porter and Lawler, however, suggest that these unique environmental perceptions may all be described in terms of their theoretical model linking job attitudes and performance. The present study examines the job satisfactions, personal histories and performance ratings of workers in the specific environment of isolated work settings in the Canadian Arctic, and tests a number of hypotheses based on the Porter-Lawler model. Job satisfactions are measured by an eighteen item adaptation of the Porter managerial questionnaire. Numerical measures are obtained of the fulfillment, dissatisfaction and importance perceived to exist for specific job factors related to the Physiological, Security, Social, Esteem, Autonomy and Self-Actualization needs described by Maslow. Personal history information is contained in a coded data sheet similar to that used in the Antarctic studies of Gunderson. Performance ratings of each worker are taken from the results of a rating scale and a rank order process carried out by each worker's manager and supervisor. The sample consisted of 228 workers interviewed by the writer in five small, isolated mining camps in the Yukon and Northwest Territories of Canada in the early winter of 1968. Results from each camp are analysed separately so as to provide answers to the following three problems: 1. The determination of overall differences between the fulfillment, dissatisfaction and importance of Maslow needs categories across all workers. 2. The determination of differences between the need perceptions of successful and unsuccessful workers. 3. The determination of differences between the personal and occupational histories of successful and unsuccessful workers. Analyses regarding problem 1 showed, that, in general, Esteem and Autonomy needs are the least fulfilled, that Esteem and Self-Actualization needs provide the most dissatisfaction and that Autonomy needs are considered to be the least important. Analyses regarding problem 2 showed that, in the two camps where valid performance ratings were obtained, the differences between the overall fulfillment and dissatisfaction scores of successful and unsuccessful workers were significant and in the predicted direction. Analyses regarding problem 3 showed there to be no significant differences between the personal histories of successful and unsuccessful workers. Conclusions are drawn as to the usefulness of the Porter-Lawler model and the Maslow theory for Manpower counsellors and for management. Comparisons are made between the present results and those obtained, in the Porter and Lawler management studies. Suggestions for future needed research include replications in other specific isolated and non-isolated job settings, and a field experiment in an isolated setting where rewards in the form of need fulfillment can be controlled and the resulting satisfactions monitored over time.

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