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What are the Concepts of Job Enrichment and Job Enlargement?

The concept of job enlargement was developed as a result of the investigations targeted on the improvement of group efficiency and motivation in the early 1960s. The major reason for the investigation was the need for companies to improve the productivity of their employees. The basic concept had to do with the fact that people who deal with boring and simple kinds of job are not motivated enough to perform their jobs well. The decision therefore was to increase the amount of operations the person performed in order to make the job more attractive to the employee.

The concept proved to be unsuccessful because it tried to simply replace a short boring job with a long boring job without trying to change the content of the job. The further development of this concept led to the second theory of job enrichment, which turned out to be quite successful and has been accepted by many organizations as the correct approach to increasing group productivity. This concept fits very well with the usual project environment and is therefore regarded by project managers as a useful approach to project team development.

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The job enrichment concept was developed based on the experiment carried out by the Swedish Volvo company in the 1960s. The management of Volvo decided to try discontinuing one of its assembly lines and instead putting all the people with needed skills in one room with all the tools and equipment needed to carry out the operations. The cost for the process and the length of the process as the result of this organizational change increased; however, the overall life cycle cost of the product, including all the needed repair work, guarantee work, clients’ dissatisfaction factors, etc., decreased significantly.

Based on the results of the experiment, it was decided that the increased opportunities for creative work increased the level of responsibility and ownership. The ability to see the final product made the members of the group more motivated and therefore increased their ability to perform good results and check for quality. It was decided that, in order to increase people’s productivity, it is critical to give them more opportunities for independent and creative work.

This approach is strongly reflected in modern project management methodology, where the systems of delegation and increased involvement of the team members in all phases of the project are considered to be critical for project success. It is also largely used in other modern management methodologies, such as total quality management. The basic idea is to decrease the cost for quality by decreasing the inspection time and increasing the self-sufficiency of the producers of the products.