EFFECTS OF WORKPLACE ENVIRONMENT CHARACTERISTICS ON JOB ALIENATION: A RESEARCH ON INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY EMPLOYEES
The information technology sector is considered as the new driving force of an economy and is therefore defined as the "strategic sector". The most important asset of the sector which has such critical importance is the information technology employees who are educated and qualified human resources. On the other hand, as in many other sectors, employees in this sector may also face a psychosocial risk due to non-corporate practices. This traditional system can cause disappointment to employees and subsequently to alienate against their jobs. In this context, one of the most important issues ignored in the information technology sector is determining the reasons underlying the negative attitudes of the employees towards their works. The “Job Demands - Resources Model”, which was developed by Demerouti et al. (2001), which aims to explain the factors necessary for the productivity and well-being of the employees in the workplace environment, provides an explanatory perspective. Work alienation arises as a result of various job demands that the employee perceives as obstacles. According to the Job Demands - Resources model, this situation may lead to emotional exhaustion afterwards (Khan et al., 2019). In the light of this information, the antecedents of alienation to work can be explained within the framework of the variables in the Job Demands- Resources model. The purpose of this study is to examine the direct and indirect effects of job autonomy, role conflict and organizational justice variables on the IT employees' perception of work alienation.
2. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
In this study, hypotheses related to variables that directly and indirectly affect the perception of information technology (IT) employees' alienation to work were tested. A descriptive research design was conducted to examine the specific effects revealed in this context. The hypotheses included in the research model developed within the scope of the literature review are presented below:
H1: Job autonomy perceptions of IT employees positively affect their perceptions of procedural justice.
H2: Job autonomy perceptions of IT employees negatively affect their perception of role conflict.
H3a: Procedural justice perceptions of IT employees negatively affect their perception of powerlessness.
H3b: Procedural justice perceptions of IT employees negatively affect their perception of self-alienation.
H3c: Procedural justice perceptions of IT employees negatively affect their perception of meaninglessness.
H4a: Role conflict perceptions of IT employees positively affect their perception of powerlessness.
H4b: Role conflict perceptions of IT employees positively affect their perception of self- alienation.
H4c: Role conflict perceptions of IT employees positively affect their perception of meaninglessness.
Figure 1. Research Model
The sample was drawn from different organizations in the information technology sector in Istanbul, Turkey's largest metropolitan city, based on purposive sampling. The sample comprised IT employees working in different areas such as software, hardware, programmers, data analysis etc. Data were collected from 172 IT employees across seven medium- sized and small companies. Since it was necessary to obtain data from a wide sample to test the hypotheses included in the research model, a questionnaire was chosen as a data collection tool. Considering that it would be more convenient to reach IT employees who are experts in the use of technology with an online questionnaire and that the questionnaire would be answered more easily by the participants, the questionnaire was designed via the internet.
The designed questionnaire consists of two parts. In the first part, the scales related to the variables in the research model are presented, in the second part, there are questions about demographic characteristics. To measure work alienation, the scale developed by Mottaz (1981) and adapted and revised in Turkish by Sayü (2014) was used. Considering the previous studies in the literature on IT employees, it was decided in this study that only the procedural justice sub-dimension of the organizational justice was included in the research model. The scale developed by Colquitt et al. (2001) was used to measure procedural justice. Work autonomy scale was taken from Lim's (2008) study. The scale developed by Rizzo, House and Lirtzman (1970) was based on to measure the role conflict perceived by IT employees.
3. ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS
A process consisting of three stages was followed in order to test the research hypotheses by modeling structural equations. Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) was performed to evaluate the psychometric suitability of the measurements made in the first stage. Whether the scales used in this way are compatible with the dimensions used in the literature and previously used were examined statistically. In the second stage, the relationships between the structures were examined by making validity and reliability analyzes. In this context, internal consistency reliability (by examining Cronbach Alpha and CR = Composite Reliability values), convergent validity (factor loads and AVE = Average Variance Extracted values are examined) and discriminant validity was analyzed using the criteria proposed by Fornell and Larcker (1981) and the HTMT criterion proposed by Henseler et al. (2015).
In the structural equation model analysis, partial least squares path analysis (PLS-SEM) was used. The collected data were analyzed with the Smart PLS 3.2.8 program (Ringle et al. 2015). In the analysis process, PLS algorithm is used to calculate the linearity, regression, path coefficients and effect size (f2) between structures. Resampling (bootstrapping) and 5000 sub-samples were selected from the sample and t values were calculated, and the predictive power (Q2) was examined using Blindfolding analysis.
H1 and H2 hypotheses were accepted according to the findings of standard deviation, t value and significance related to direct effects in the model analyzed. H3a, H3b and H3c hypotheses of the model were accepted. The significance (p> 0.001) value of the model's H3a hypothesis was not supported because it was not appropriate, and the H3b and H3c hypotheses were supported. Among indirect effects, work autonomy does not indirectly affect perception of powerlessness, perception of self-alienation and meaninglessness through role conflict. H6a H6b and H6c hypotheses were not supported, in all three hypotheses since the significance (p> 0.001) values were not suitable. H5a, H5b and H5c hypotheses were supported according to the significance (p) values.
In this study; within the scope of the Job Demands - Resources Model, the relationships between the variables of job autonomy, role conflict, procedural justice, and work alienation were analyzed. For this purpose, the results of the research model tested using the structural equation model showed that the variables of job autonomy, role conflict and procedural justice have the power to predict employees' perception of alienation to work. The findings of the study showed that job autonomy indirectly affects perceptions of powerlessness, self-alienation and meaninglessness through procedural justice. Another finding obtained in the study is that role conflict positively affects alienation to work. Therefore, a conflict between the employees' self-expected roles and the role they believe should be in line with their qualifications and expertise can dismiss the employee from work. According to the Job Demand- Resource Model, role conflict in the demand category (Demerouti & Bakker, 2011) is an important source of alienation for both managers and employees (Arslan & Üngüren, 2017). Similarly, Michaels et al. (1996); Agarwal (1993, p. 732) and Korman et al. (1981) found that role conflict increases alienation to work.
The development and growth of the IT sector, which acts as a locomotive in the development of a country's economy, and the ability of the companies operating in this sector to pay for their investments are directly related to the motivation of the sector employees. In this context, it is critical to develop various support programs and incentives to demonstrate the career development and expertise of sector employees.
This study was conducted with a sample that can be considered small due to time and cost constraints. More detailed inferences can be made for the IT sector by using a larger sample and different variables related to the workplace environment in future studies. This study focuses more on the antecedents of alienation to work. However, there is also a need for studies that examine the consequences of work alienation, such as burnout and deviation.