This section reviews the existing literature in the study area. The section reviews theoretical and empirical literature on employee satisfaction and dissatisfaction with the aim of determining gaps in knowledge, controversial area and research questions for the study. The section covers general literature on employee satisfaction, employee satisfaction in museums and related entities and employee satisfaction in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The focus of the literature review is scholarly peer reviewed journal articles sourced from electronic databases.
Relevance of Previous Studies
Job satisfaction, employee morale and other aspects that affect employee output has been subject of research in efforts aimed at facilitating the improvement of employee input and performance (Roelen, Koopmans and Groothoff 433-434). Most studies adopt a psychological perspective in analyzing the factors that influence employee motivation and satisfaction. Job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are always analyzed from multiple perspectives due to the multiplicity of factors that influence employees input or output in the workplace. Job satisfaction is negatively correlated to employee turnover (Hwang, Lou, Han, Cao, Kim and Li 314). Industries that are characterized by low employee job satisfaction such as the hospitality industry also report high employee turnover as workers are always in search of greener pastures (Corneliben 368).
Job satisfaction is defined as the degree to which an individual is content with his or her job (Roelen, Koopmans and Groothoff 435). Conversely, job dissatisfaction is the degree to which an individual is discontent with his or her job. Job satisfaction and dissatisfaction are thus related measures of the degree of satisfaction among the employees in a workplace. Satisfaction is the derivation of pleasure or positive emotional cues from the jobs (Roelen, Koopmans and Groothoff 435). Job satisfaction has an affective and cognitive dimension with the former concerned with overall pleasure generated from a job whereas the latter covers satisfaction with specific aspects of a job such as pension, working environment and bonuses (Caers, Du Bois, Jegers, De Gieter, De Cooman and Pepermans 522). Since employees are social beings that interact with other employees and people in their spheres, job satisfaction is best looked at using a holistic approach that factors in multiple facets of the human life. Factors such as working conditions, home or family issues, stress at home, stress at work and general wellbeing of the employees have all been shown to have significant influence on the levels of job satisfaction reported by employees (Pan, Huang, Lee and Chang 52).
The affect theory by Locke is arguably one of the most commonly used theories in studies focusing on employee job satisfaction. The theory posits that satisfaction is influenced by difference between what an employee wants from his job and what one gets from the job (Rogelberg, Allen, Shanock, Scott and Shuffler 150). This theory asserts that employees’ expectations from their jobs directly affect their overall job satisfaction. This in effect implies that managers should try to understand employees job expectations and design the jobs and processes to maximize the alignment between employees’ expectation and what the job offers. In addition, the importance that an employee attaches a specific face of the job for instance the salary or power associated with a job is influential on the degree of satisfaction attain when their expectation are met (Singh and Loncar 472). Employees have diverse expectation from their job which is manifested in differences in job facets that individual employees consider important. The differences are a result of personality, personal and professional goals, familial obligations, and social status which differ across the workforce (Edwards, Bell, Arthur and Decuir 442).
The dispositional theory is another common theory of job satisfaction that has been applied and investigated in different job settings. The theory asserts that humans have innate dispositions that influence their levels of job satisfaction irrespective of the job or working condition (Klassen, Usher and Bong 466). This theory is controversial to some degree since it in essence implies that some employees are naturally likely to have low or high job satisfaction irrespective of the job characteristics (Singh and Loncar 471). The theory is supported by empirical findings showing that job satisfaction tends to be rather stable over time and across professional area (Klassen, Usher and Bong 465). Managers should endeavor to develop a better understanding of their employees to determine their basic levels of job satisfaction. Employees with natural (basic) low level of job satisfaction are at greater risk of reporting lower levels of job satisfaction and should therefore be the focus of internal efforts aimed at improving employee satisfaction (Roelen, Koopmans and Groothoff 435).
Whereas some careers such as nursing and low level jobs in the hospitality industry are characterized by low employee satisfaction or high employee dissatisfaction, empirical studies show that internal work condition and job characteristics are highly influential on the levels of employee job satisfaction (Roelen, Koopmans and Groothoff 435-436). This in essence implies that individual organizations or firms are better placed to address issues relating to employee satisfaction rather than industry level strategies.
Agreement (Convergence Areas)
High stress careers such as hotel attendants, nurses in nursing home and emergency room attendants are characterized by high levels of employee dissatisfaction or low-level employee satisfaction. Qualitative and quantitative studies in these settings show that the high demands associated with the jobs, the pay including bonuses and allowances, the job characteristics (especially for hotel and bar attendants) and interaction between professional and personal lives are the most influential factors on the reported low levels of employee satisfaction in this industry (Shallal 116). Museums are a relatively high stress area considering the number of visitors or clients that have to be served in a day. However, few studies have sought to determine if the job satisfaction trends reported in other high stress working environments converge with the trends in museums.
The national economic performance is another factor that is equally influential on the levels of job satisfaction. Country level analysis show that the overall levels of employees’ satisfaction is generally linked with the quality of life in a nation (Singh and Loncar 472). First world nations associated with high standards of living such as Switzerland also report high overall employee satisfaction (Singh and Loncar 472). The application of the disposition theory and national culture to the country level analysis of employee job satisfaction leads to the conclusion that such differences should be expected. The personal expectations of a hotel worker in a third world nation are expected to be lower than the expectation of an employee in a first world nation in facets such as salary. The implication is that employee satisfaction or dissatisfaction studies provide results that can only be generalized within the country and the setting of the studies.
Controversy and Literature Gap
Most studies on employee satisfaction in the UAE use self-developed instruments (mainly questionnaires) and lack in randomization (Abdulla, Djebarni and Mellahi 127). The use of self-developed instruments rather than standardized instruments like the job satisfaction survey raises question on the internal validity of the findings. Failure to randomize the sample when using statistical techniques raises questions on the use of these techniques. Future studies on the area of employee satisfaction in the UAE should address these methodological issues. The lack of studies focusing on employee satisfaction or dissatisfaction in museums in general and specifically UAE museums is a gap that may negatively affect performance in this industry. This is because findings from industries such as the hospitality and nursing industry are unique to the industries and cannot be assumed reflective of the condition of job satisfaction or dissatisfaction in the museums segment.
Analysis (own thoughts)
Job satisfaction is an area of immense interest to managers and organizations in general. Understanding the overall trends in employees’ satisfaction within an industry and an organization is important to organizations as it helps determine their ability to retain employees and carry out successful organizational learning initiatives. Even though museums in the UAE have witnessed increase in visitors and therefore demands on employees, researchers have failed to consider and research the potential effect of this increase on their levels of job satisfaction. It is expected that the levels of employee satisfaction in the museums will follow the same trends as job satisfaction in other highly demanding industries. This in essence implies that employees that directly interact with the clients (visitors) will have lower levels of employee job satisfaction that employees involved in backroom processes and managers. Investigating the levels of job satisfaction of museum employees in the UAE will help in ensuring that corrective measures are implemented should the job satisfaction be found to be low. In addition, such efforts will help further investigation and research into other factors that may be influential on the levels of employee job satisfaction in this segment.
The main aim of the study is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the levels of job satisfaction of museum employees in the UAE. The study will focus on specific stressors or factors that influence the levels of job satisfaction in highly demanding jobs. The following research questions will aid the attainment of this goal:
- What is the level of employee job satisfaction in UAE museums?
- Does the level of employee job satisfaction in the UAE museums vary with the job position or description?
- What factors are significantly influential on the levels of employee job satisfaction in UAE museums?
- Are there significant differences in the influence of the identified factors on the levels of employee job satisfaction in UAE museums?