The relationship between the broader environment and the work system in a university setting: a systems approach

Recent work design theories propose that the work design configuration (i.e. ‘work system’) in an organization interacts with its broader social and economic environment.


Nevertheless, there are few studies of how the broader environment affects the work system. In the present study, the authors used a qualitative theory-elaboration approach to investigate the interplay between the broader environment and the work system in a university setting. They collected data with semi-structured interviews from a sample of 51 academic and administrative employees from a university department and a university faculty in Norway. The findings indicated that a broader environment characterized by a market-oriented model of governance was perceived to have both negative (stronger management, reduced job security and autonomy, increased demands, and exacerbated intergroup relations) and positive effects (enhanced intra-group interdependence, feedback, and support) on the work system. Taken together, the broader environment was experienced to diminish motivational and high-commitment work systems.

Studies in Higher Education, 2015, DOI:10.1080/03075079.2015.1034259

Published Sep. 14, 2015 7:00 AM - Last modified Aug. 30, 2016 12:49 PM