Title: Job Autonomy in Owner-Managed Family Firms in Malta

Author: Ian Pisani

Description: Work psychology literature suggests, that when individuals have autonomy in their work, they are fulfilling their psychological need for self-determination. Research shows that job autonomy increases workers’ intrinsic motivation, job satisfaction and performance. However research that explores the factors that affect autonomy in organisations has remained somewhat neglected. This study focuses on exploring the antecedents that influence job autonomy in a particular domain; that of owner-managed family firms (OMFF) in Malta. Job autonomy in a family business context is worth pursuing because there is a strong relationship between job autonomy and the entrepreneurial orientation of firms, and this entrepreneurial philosophy is considered to be at the heart of family business development. Additionally, family firms represent the majority of firms in Malta and across Europe and they generally rely on a single individual and decision maker, the owner-manager. Qualitative analysis was undertaken in four Maltese OMFF. Thematic analysis, provided three highly interrelated themes leading to the understanding of factors that affect job autonomy. These are: ‘the nature of the firm’ including its type, composition and structure, the ‘managerial style’, and the process to ‘earning the right for autonomy’. Two main outcomes emerge from the results. The knowledge of the factors that affect job autonomy in OMFF, provide a better understanding of the construct. Suitable performance assessment systems, and appropriate corporate governance structures may optimize job autonomy in OMFF, to increase performance.

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