Exploring cotton farm workers’ job satisfaction by adapting social cognitive career theory to the farm work context

PhD Thesis


Mcdonald, Nicole J.. 2017. Exploring cotton farm workers’ job satisfaction by adapting social cognitive career theory to the farm work context. PhD Thesis Doctor of Philosophy. University of Southern Queensland. https://doi.org/10.26192/5c05e1dad30d2
Title

Exploring cotton farm workers’ job satisfaction by adapting social cognitive career theory to the farm work context

TypePhD Thesis
Authors
AuthorMcdonald, Nicole J.
SupervisorMcIlveen, Peter
Perera, Harsha N.
Noble, Karen
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Philosophy
Number of Pages266
Year2017
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.26192/5c05e1dad30d2
Abstract

This thesis reports on research into the application of the Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) of job satisfaction in a sample of Australian farm workers. The SCCT job satisfaction model maps the relationships between five predictor variables: (a) personality and affective traits; (b) goal and efficacy-relevant environmental barriers, supports and resources; (c) self-efficacy; (d) expected and received work conditions and outcomes; and (e) goals and goal-directed activity, and their direct and indirect influence on fostering (or inhibiting) the individual’s experience of work satisfaction (Lent & Brown, 2006a). SCCT is a dominant theory in the Vocational Psychology discipline and has been tested for generalisability in a wide range of cultures and work contexts. As yet, it has not been extensively applied to understand the career motivations of the Australian agricultural workforce. The current research addresses this gap in the vocational psychology literature and attempts to counter the agentic assumptions of the SCCT by proposing the addition of work volition to the model.

The literature on career motivations for Australian agricultural workers is reviewed, informing consideration for the application of the SCCT in this context.
The proposed testing of the SCCT Model of Job Satisfaction in the Australian farming context draws on other existing theories and frameworks including, the Psychology of Working, self-efficacy theory, person-organisation fit theory, organisational support theory, and job demands-resources theory. In this way, the SCCT is used to synthesise multiple perspectives of contributing factors to job satisfaction and provide a comprehensive understanding of psychological factors that influence attraction and retention of workers to the Australian agricultural industry and more specifically to the Australian cotton industry.

A sequential mixed methods design is used to position the farm work context as central to testing the SCCT Model of Job Satisfaction. Firstly, semi-structured interviews conducted with Australian cotton farm workers and growers were used to collect data which described the SCCT constructs in the farming context. Following thematic analysis of these data, the face validity of measures that operationalised the SCCT constructs was discussed. Furthermore, a new measure to capture farm worker self-efficacy was developed. Respondents’ descriptions of work volition were used to inform the integration of this construct into the newly proposed SCCT Model of Farm Worker Job Satisfaction. The second study surveyed farm workers and used Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) to test two conceptual models; (a) the SCCT Model of Farm Worker Job Satisfaction and (b) the SCCT Model of Farm Worker Job Satisfaction including work volition.

The results found sufficient evidence to support the generalisability of the SCCT Model of Job Satisfaction to the Australian agricultural context and the cotton
farm context. Although, it would appear that the relationships between self-efficacy and the SCCT antecedent and outcome constructs are more complex than the direct relationships hypothesised. While the addition of work volition to the SCCT Model of Farm Worker Job Satisfaction added little to the prediction of reported levels of job satisfaction, this did contribute to the explanation of the relationships between the SCCT predictor variables. The theoretical and practical implications of the results are discussed and recommendations for application of the findings and future research are made.

KeywordsSocial Cognitive Career Theory, mixed methods, agriculture, cotton, farm workers, job satisfaction
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020350710. Organisational behaviour
520104. Industrial and organisational psychology (incl. human factors)
Byline AffiliationsInstitute for Resilient Regions
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