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Methodological and conceptual issues in studying effort-reward fit

Jonas Lang (UGent) , Sander Van Hoeck (UGent) and Malte Runge (UGent)
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Abstract
Purpose Research on effort-reward "imbalance" (ERI) has gained popularity in the occupational health literature, and authors typically use effort-reward ratios (ERRs) to study this phenomenon. This article provides a methodological and theoretical critique of this literature and suggestions on how future research can better study joint effects of efforts and reward. Design/methodology/approach The authors conducted a simulation study, analyzed panel data and surveyed the literature on the theoretical and methodological basis of the "imbalance" concept. Findings The simulation study indicates that under many conditions the ERR captures main effects of effort and reward and that effects also depend on the scaling of the variables. The panel data showed that when main effects and the interactions of effort and reward are entered simultaneously in a regression predicting mental and physical health, the significant effect of the ERRs disappears. The literature review reveals that psychological theories include more elaborate theoretical ideas on joint effects of effort and reward. Research limitations/implications The results suggest that moderated multiple regression analyses are better suited to detect a misfit between effort and reward than ERRs. The authors also suggest to use the term effort-reward fit in future research. Originality/value Methodologically and conceptually the authors showed that the ERR is not an appropriate approach because it confuses main effects with interaction effects. Furthermore, the concept of ERI is better substituted by a broader conceptualization of effort-reward fit that can be integrated with the existing literature on person-environment fit. Recommendations for future research are provided.
Keywords
Applied Psychology, Management Science and Operations Research, Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management, Social Psychology, Ratio variables, Person-environment fit, Occupational health, Burnout, SPURIOUS CORRELATION, HINDRANCE STRESSORS, WORK STRESS, JOB DEMANDS, IMBALANCE, CHALLENGE, PERFORMANCE, TURNOVER, BEHAVIOR, STRAIN

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Citation

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MLA
Lang, Jonas, et al. “Methodological and Conceptual Issues in Studying Effort-Reward Fit.” JOURNAL OF MANAGERIAL PSYCHOLOGY, vol. 37, no. 5, 2022, pp. 498–512, doi:10.1108/jmp-11-2019-0659.
APA
Lang, J., Van Hoeck, S., & Runge, M. (2022). Methodological and conceptual issues in studying effort-reward fit. JOURNAL OF MANAGERIAL PSYCHOLOGY, 37(5), 498–512. https://doi.org/10.1108/jmp-11-2019-0659
Chicago author-date
Lang, Jonas, Sander Van Hoeck, and Malte Runge. 2022. “Methodological and Conceptual Issues in Studying Effort-Reward Fit.” JOURNAL OF MANAGERIAL PSYCHOLOGY 37 (5): 498–512. https://doi.org/10.1108/jmp-11-2019-0659.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Lang, Jonas, Sander Van Hoeck, and Malte Runge. 2022. “Methodological and Conceptual Issues in Studying Effort-Reward Fit.” JOURNAL OF MANAGERIAL PSYCHOLOGY 37 (5): 498–512. doi:10.1108/jmp-11-2019-0659.
Vancouver
1.
Lang J, Van Hoeck S, Runge M. Methodological and conceptual issues in studying effort-reward fit. JOURNAL OF MANAGERIAL PSYCHOLOGY. 2022;37(5):498–512.
IEEE
[1]
J. Lang, S. Van Hoeck, and M. Runge, “Methodological and conceptual issues in studying effort-reward fit,” JOURNAL OF MANAGERIAL PSYCHOLOGY, vol. 37, no. 5, pp. 498–512, 2022.
@article{8689840,
  abstract     = {{Purpose Research on effort-reward "imbalance" (ERI) has gained popularity in the occupational health literature, and authors typically use effort-reward ratios (ERRs) to study this phenomenon. This article provides a methodological and theoretical critique of this literature and suggestions on how future research can better study joint effects of efforts and reward. Design/methodology/approach The authors conducted a simulation study, analyzed panel data and surveyed the literature on the theoretical and methodological basis of the "imbalance" concept. Findings The simulation study indicates that under many conditions the ERR captures main effects of effort and reward and that effects also depend on the scaling of the variables. The panel data showed that when main effects and the interactions of effort and reward are entered simultaneously in a regression predicting mental and physical health, the significant effect of the ERRs disappears. The literature review reveals that psychological theories include more elaborate theoretical ideas on joint effects of effort and reward. Research limitations/implications The results suggest that moderated multiple regression analyses are better suited to detect a misfit between effort and reward than ERRs. The authors also suggest to use the term effort-reward fit in future research. Originality/value Methodologically and conceptually the authors showed that the ERR is not an appropriate approach because it confuses main effects with interaction effects. Furthermore, the concept of ERI is better substituted by a broader conceptualization of effort-reward fit that can be integrated with the existing literature on person-environment fit. Recommendations for future research are provided.}},
  author       = {{Lang, Jonas and Van Hoeck, Sander and Runge, Malte}},
  issn         = {{0268-3946}},
  journal      = {{JOURNAL OF MANAGERIAL PSYCHOLOGY}},
  keywords     = {{Applied Psychology,Management Science and Operations Research,Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management,Social Psychology,Ratio variables,Person-environment fit,Occupational health,Burnout,SPURIOUS CORRELATION,HINDRANCE STRESSORS,WORK STRESS,JOB DEMANDS,IMBALANCE,CHALLENGE,PERFORMANCE,TURNOVER,BEHAVIOR,STRAIN}},
  language     = {{eng}},
  number       = {{5}},
  pages        = {{498--512}},
  title        = {{Methodological and conceptual issues in studying effort-reward fit}},
  url          = {{http://doi.org/10.1108/jmp-11-2019-0659}},
  volume       = {{37}},
  year         = {{2022}},
}

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