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Racioethnic and migration status influence on job satisfaction: Evidence from Australia

Tettey, Kwasi O'Boorh (2015) Racioethnic and migration status influence on job satisfaction: Evidence from Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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The Australian labor market is characterized by a culturally diverse workforce. This in large part stems from the high representation of migrants in the workforce. In fact, the representation of migrants is reportedly higher than in most immigrant nations, including the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (US). Nonetheless, in some of these countries, in particular the US, it appears there is an ongoing interest to ascertain whether or not there are discrepancies in the job satisfaction of workers from various cultural backgrounds. As a result, literature comparing the satisfaction of minorities with Whites is readily available, albeit conflicting. However, in Australia, this information is limited. The present research was therefore designed to provide some knowledge in this area.

Specifically, the research was undertaken to primarily establish if, within the Australian workforce, there are differences in job satisfaction levels on the basis of racioethnicity and migration status. It was also designed to ascertain if there are disparities on these bases in relation to life satisfaction. Further, the research was designed to assess the importance that is placed on job satisfaction facets by members of different racioethnic groups and with varying migration status. It also tested the possibility that people from different racioethnic backgrounds and with varied personality characteristics experience job satisfaction differently. In addition, the research examined disparities in perceived discrimination and its influence on the job satisfaction of people from different races and ethnicities. Altogether, nine research questions were addressed.

As part of addressing these questions, three main theories underlying job satisfaction, namely the motivation-hygiene theory, the job characteristics model, and the internal dispositional theory were tested. Using a survey questionnaire and interviews, data was collected from 413 participants—consisting of 388 survey respondents and 25 interviewees—and then analyzed using SPSS and NVivo. Consistent with the conclusions from overseas studies, it was found that race and ethnicity tend to predict both job and life satisfaction differently.

In general, there were significant differences in job satisfaction levels between Whites and people from minority races. Some significant differences were also found between ethnic groups. However, no such differences were observed between people with different migration status, although those born in Australia reported slightly higher levels of satisfaction. Also, in general, there were discrepancies in the job facets from which Whites and people from minority races derive satisfaction; there were discrepancies in the context of migration status and ethnicity as well. However, members of most racial and ethnic groups agreed that interpersonal relationships, communication, and work-life balance were important in terms of job satisfaction. In contrast, pay and promotion were considered less relevant.

Perceived discrimination was found to be considerably higher among minorities than Whites. It reduced job satisfaction levels and seemed to affect the satisfaction of members of some groups more than others. With regard to personality traits, there was little evidence to suggest that they influenced the job satisfaction levels of people from various racioethnic groups differently. Similarly, there was little evidence to suggest that people from different races as well as those with different migration status significantly vary in life satisfaction levels. However, slightly higher levels of satisfaction were recorded for Whites and people born in Australia compared with minorities and people born overseas. In addition, a larger proportion of members of ‘underprivileged ethnicities’ reported higher than expected levels of satisfaction and were more likely than their ‘Western ethnicities’ counterparts to be satisfied with their life in Australia. People born overseas, it was observed, were also more likely to be satisfied with life than those born in Australia.

The findings are interpreted with the support of relevant theories and data from the interviews. Conclusions and policy implications of the findings are presented, along with suggestions for further research.

Publication Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Supervisor: Fozdar, Farida and Evers, Barbara
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