When Job Dissatisfaction Leads to Creativity

Subject: Employee Management
Pages: 5
Words: 2915
Reading time:
11 min
Study level: PhD

The Research Question

The purpose of the study was to determine the conditions that can lead to creativity in the work environment when employees are dissatisfied. The article revolved around one main research question, which is, under what conditions can job dissatisfaction lead to creativity. In other words, what are the specific conditions that would lead to job dissatisfaction and can be channeled to creative performance?

This is justified when dissatisfied employees provide influential motion for change in organization improvements through their creative ideas assuming that the response for job dissatisfaction is not quitting. More so, it is hard to find employees who are always satisfied or dissatisfied with the job as it happens from one time to another depending on the lives of different workers. Leaders in the organization should take this as an opportunity for development. The study thus addresses the useful co-workers’ feedback that is supportive and helpful as well as high support by the perceived organization for creativity (Zhou & George, 2001). This study follows a positivist paradigm using a quantitative research method that included a survey.

Identifying the Gaps

Previous studies about job dissatisfaction discussed the fact that when employees are dissatisfied they tend to leave their organizations. This approach, when employees aren’t satisfied then they turnover, was explored in studies such as (Hom & Kinicki, 2001) and (Lee, 1988). Thus, several authors have suggested that job dissatisfaction may have a positive impact on organizational effectiveness. Therefore, the gap that the authors are trying to address in this article is that dissatisfied employees may provide a powerful push for change in organizations through their creative ideas for improvements, but this is likely to occur under certain circumstances such as, continuance commitment, support from their co-works, useful feedback, and perceived organizational support.

Addressing the Research Question and Theories Used

The authors addressed the research questions using the theories of (Farrell, 1983; Hirschman, 1970; Rusbult, Farrell, Rogers, &Mainous, 1988; Withey& Cooper, 1989), which suggest that there are four alternative responses to job dissatisfaction: exit, loyalty, neglect, and voice.

The theories help verify the validity of the collected data and in the formation of the necessary assumptions in the achievements of such. They also form a base of research and are useful in the development of a questionnaire. The types of theories adapted assist the researcher to develop the research design that is appropriate to achieve the target.

The theories referred to exit as, when dissatisfied employees decide to leave the organization. Additionally, Loyalty was defined as, employees that react to dissatisfaction by remaining in the organization accepting the current situation of the organization without making any effort or suggestions for improvements. Moving on, the theory defined neglect as; when employees are dissatisfied and choose to exhibit careless behavior towards the organization. Therefore, the theory referred to voice as, when dissatisfied employees take the challenge and stay in the organizations trying to make positive changes in the organization and trying to make the condition better. Therefore, the theory that is used in this journal is suitable for the suggested approaches by the authors as there are many theories and studies that looked at job satisfaction such as, (Ssesanga & Garrett, 2005; Wharton, Rotolo, & Sharon, 2000). On the other hand, few studies looked at job dissatisfaction, as there are not many theories have been done on that. The authors were able to test the relations between with the theory the used and the concepts they chose for the study.

(Exit, loyalty, neglect, andvoice,) are four actions that can be divided into two categories passive and active actions. Active action consists of two actions one is destructive and the other is constructive. Therefore, if the employees responded to dissatisfaction by choosing loyalty or neglect the response would be passive; whereas if they responded by choosing to express voice, then their action will be active-constructive; and finally, if they choose to exit then this is considered as an active-destructive action.

As illustrated in Figure 1, when an employee feels dissatisfaction, there are two alternatives, either to exit as defined in the earlier paragraph, or to stay. However, when the cost of exit is considered high, the employee would choose to stay, and this act is referred to as “Continuous Commitment”. After having to stay within the organization, the employee would choose to act in one of three ways as demonstrated in Figure 1: Neglect, Loyalty, or Voice. However, this paper concentrates on the “Voice” action that can be taken by the employee that may lead to Creativity. Hence, the expression of Voice needs at least one of the three moderating variables that are Useful Feedback; Co-worker help and support; and Perceived Organizational Support.

“Continuous Commitment”

Research Model and Variables Relationship

As mentioned earlier, the dissatisfaction theory is in line with the study of this paper that states that employees would respond to dissatisfaction by choosing to act in one of four ways: Exit, Loyalty, Neglect, or Voice; hence, Voice is the concentration of this study. Voice is referred to as employees who intend to change the current situation of the organization positively and creatively. This study is important because it brings a new perspective to dissatisfaction that can be good for any organization and that can actually lead to creativity.

The authors have followed a deductive approach as they started their research with a theory and hypotheses and then examined them by conducting an empirical study. The paperdeductedthree hypotheses, as listed below:

Hypotheses Variables
Hypothesis 1. Job dissatisfaction, continuancecommitment, and useful feedback from coworkersinteract to affect creativity in such away that job dissatisfaction will have the strongest,positive relationship with creativity whencontinuance commitment is high and coworkers provide useful feedback. (Zhou & George, 2001).
  1. Job dissatisfaction
  2. Continuance commitment
  3. Useful feedback
  4. Creativity
Hypothesis 2. Job dissatisfaction, continuance, commitment, and coworker helping and support interact to affect creativity in such a way that job dissatisfaction will have the strongest, positive relationship with creativity when continuance commitment, coworker helping, and support are both high (Zhou & George, 2001).
  1. Job dissatisfaction
  2. Continuance commitment
  3. Help and support
  4. Creativity
Hypothesis 3: Job dissatisfaction, continuancecommitment, and perceived organizationalsupport for creativity interact to affect creativityin such a way that job dissatisfaction willhave the strongest, positive relationship withcreativity when continuance commitment andperceived organizationalsupport for creativityare both high.(Zhou & George, 2001).
  1. Job dissatisfaction
  2. Continuance commitment
  3. Perceived organizationalsupport
  4. Creativity
Figure No. 2

The proposed constructs / variables by the authors exhibited a positive relationship as playing a moderators role between job dissatisfaction and creativity. The illustration below shows the key conceptual/operational relationships.

In this study, those constructs / variables were defined and introduced as follows:

  • Job dissatisfaction was defined as when employees are less satisfied with the current situation at work or in other words when the employees came to a point in which they are unhappy and do not like their job anymore.
  • Coworker Help & Support: this is possible when coworkers are welling and keen to exchange their knowledge and expertise as well as helping each other.
  • Perceived Organizational Support: this happens when the organization was more innovative and supportive to its employees by recognizing them and providing rewarding systems.
  • Continuance Commitment: it happens whenever the employees were forced to stay in a way or another because the cost of leaving the organization was high.
  • Useful Feedback: the feedback is provided when employees give each other comments and feedback that reflect positively on their job performance.
  • Creativity: when suggesting new innovative and smart ways of achieving goals and objectives. In addition, it referred as when employees had a new ways of approaching problems resolutions and when suggesting new ways of performing work tasks.

Constructs / variables were define and introduce

Consequently creativity is high if there is high support and help from co-worker, continues commitment and perceived support by the organization. If there was high-perceived support from the organization and low help and support from co-workers then creativity may not be attained. However, the perceived organization should be ready to risk in investing ideas and ensuring that workers are satisfied in the implementation.

The research model in the study is to identify whether there is a relationshipexists a between the creativity of a worker and the job dissatisfaction. It studies worker under four perspective being loyalty, exit, voice and neglect (Shalley, 1991). The variables mentioned above, have a strong, positive relationship to job dissatisfaction and creativity among the workers (VanZelst, & Kerr, 1953).

In this study, there is one Independent variable, which is job dissatisfaction, one depended variable, which is creativity and three moderators’ variables, which are co-workers help and support, perceived organizational support, and continues commitment. They are useful in influencing the outcome of a survey.

The authors also introduced various constructs and variables in the study. Some of the constructs were job dissatisfaction, creativity, voice, loyalty, neglect, exit, continence commitment, organizational behavior, job satisfaction, job performance, organizational effectiveness, creative performance, etc.

Research Design

Type of Research Design

The research was deductive in nature, under a positivist paradigm. A survey research method was used for data collection. Perceptual reports from 149-office employeesfrom a company that manufactures petroleum drillingequipment.

All variables that were discussed in the study were clear in terms of how they moved from the conceptual level to the operational level. For instance, Job dissatisfaction was measuredwith a three-item scale adapted from theMichigan Organizational Assessment Questionnaire (Seashore, Lawler, Mirvis, &Cammann, 1982). For the continuance commitment, which was used as a moderator variable, they averaged sixitems from the continuance commitment scale, which was developed by Allen and Meyer (1996). Useful feedback from coworkers (Moderator variable), in this study was adapted from Podsakoff, Ahearne, and MacKenzie (1997). For Perceived, organizational support four items were adapted from Scott and Bruce (1994). Finally, creativity (depended variable) was by 13-item scale to measurecreativity. Three items in the scale wereadopted from Scott and Bruce (1994), and the remaining10 items were developed for the presentstudy.

This study may not be appropriate to be generalized for all fields since it is tested in a very specific industry. Furthermore, there are other possible control variables, not included in this paper that may change the outcome of the study. For example, if we considered the last situation between the employee and his supervisor before conducting the survey the outcome can be affected; additionally, the organization culture can also play a significant role in whether the organization encourages innovation or practices traditional style organization. Consequently, if this study was experimented in a different industry the study might not stand, as the sample taken for this study was taken from one industry from one company only. Therefore, it might not be generalized in all industries.

Although the paper did not discuss the error variance, I can assume that the authors managed to minimize the error variance, since most of the measurement items we used from existing literature.

Key Advantages / Disadvantages of the Chosen Research Design

The design is tremendous in proving the three hypotheses. Through the results, the hypotheses can be well adapted since there is series of experiments that are qualitative. It can be termed as standard by looking at different scientific disciplines and fields that commonly uses it. In addition, the design assists in reducing interviewer biasness making the results real hence suitable for discussion and publishing.

In spite of that, survey has some weaknesses: it is costly in terms of time and resources, it is hard to capture the emotions and intentions of the respondents and it assumes that the respondent is aware of the subject matter and that can freely answer all questions correctly (Scott & Bruce1994).

Research Validity

  • Construct validity: The relationship between the proposed variables in this study is valid. The construct validity is high since the findings of the study were generalized from the study and not any other survey. The scale used in the study correlates positively with other measures in the same construct hence bringing about convergent validity. Through the study findings, the study found out that relationships exist between the variables after the hypothesis was tested.
  • Internal validity: There is a high level of internal validity in this study. This was achieved by ensuring that respondents without any influence and bias from the interviewer filled the questionnaire. In addition, the filled questionnaire was mailed to avoid any interfering. Although that the authors measurement were valid because they have used existing questionnaires. The level of internal validity could be increased through an increase in the sample of the study and the data collected suing similar method (Questionnaire).
  • External validity: The study has a low external validity. It is likely that the conducting of the survey in other different regions could produce different results. The hypotheses in the study were tested and confirmed that job dissatisfaction led to creativity in a worker given the presence of the moderators. The study was carried out in one industry and one company only. The generalization is not right since one organization differs from the other. Maybe the respondents in other companies would have given a different view. The validity can be made stronger if there is random selection of respondents, having a longitudinal design. Other factors that lead to creativity apart from the job dissatisfaction may exist. If the authors wanted to increase the level of the external validity, they can use the same questionnaire to disturb it to other companies and different industries.


Every study uses different measures to measure the variables used in the study. The variables used in the study are measured using both interval and ratio scale. Variables such as job satisfaction, commitment and continuance are measured using ratio scale. Moreover, the ration scale is used to measure the results of the regression for the study. The interval scale is used to plot the results on a graph. In summary, continuous variables are used in the study.

Addressing limitations

The creativity is related to the jobs dissatisfaction assuming that a worker does not quit and seeks satisfaction in the same platform. The worker is meant to come up with new ideas, which are innovative to reduce the problem of dissatisfaction either with the use of new technology or change of the factors of production. The feedbacks from helpful and helpful co-workers assist in promoting and supporting the idea into innovation. This can be seen through if the perceived organization is a risk taker and that it encourages innovation through rewards. Thus, for innovation to take place there should be a full coordination in all the parties involved. One cannot achieve the objective and satisfaction without the assistance from the other (Farrell, 1983)

It should use high reliability measure to reduce the occurrence of errors. The workers are to be divided into departments each serving as a block making it possible to locate the error variance, which can be easily identified. Moreover, the instruments used should have a high reliability coefficient.


In this study, questionnaire were filled by respondents and then sent to the researcher. Although the results were consistent, we cannot be certain whether there was influence from the employer or co-workers. This can be addressed by direct examination where questionnaire are designed to be interviewer administer. This will actively bring the value of measurement in the interviewing process. A baseline survey to investigate systems and practices in perceived organizations that leads to the support of the creativity of workers (Zhou & George, 2001)

The study assumed that job dissatisfaction could lead to creativity in the event of favorable conditions, useful feedback, helpful and supportive co-workers and the support of creativity by perceived organization. In the normal circumstance an individual can be dissatisfied by the job due to many other factors including salary, time, working condition and social responsibilities (Oldham & Cummings, 1996).The research should identify the relationship between job dissatisfaction and other factors that are socially, politically and economically.

The validity of the variance in the research design will be determined by time. If there were to be a longitudinal design following this one then, this can be expected to be accurate. There must be a comparison of the average age, average company and job tenure, gender and the place of origin of the respondents. This would make the outcome more convincing (Zhou & George, 2001). Hence, it will be able to test the hypothesis over a given period and come up with appropriate conclusion from the findings (Hom, Walker, Prussia &Griffeth, 1992).


In conclusion, the study can be useful when the managing leaders of an organization take job dissatisfaction as an opportunity for innovation. They should not dissatisfy their employees in the attempt to increase creativity. Workers in the perceived organization should be committed and should not quit in the event of dissatisfaction (Shalley, 1995). Thus, a friendly relationship should exist to instigate creativity in job dissatisfaction; the co-workers should be helping and supporting, they should give useful feedbacks and that the perceived organization should support creativity through rewarding and recognition. Hence, job dissatisfaction, which is positively correlated to low commitment, is characterised by absenteeism, transfer requesting, high turnover and lateness (Farrell, 1983, Woodman, Sawyer, & Griffin, 1993). Overall, the power of the study needs to be increased by obtaining a larger sample size as the authors focused on one industry and they picked only one company of one industry so this company is not enough to be a representable for the whole industry. The authors, on the other hand, where able to apply the most suitable theories for the study that had strong relationship with the constructs/variables they proposed.


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