En(light)en me about good and bad work design: The lantern production simulation



On Monday the 21st of August, the PSYC 5515 class was turned into a paper lantern factory (for educational purposes of course!). The lantern simulation game was a perfect way for students to experience what it is like to work in organisations with good and bad work design. The class was split into two completing organisations: product focused versus process focused. Each student had a specific job role that contributed to the overarching purpose of their organisation, to produce lantern orders for clients (these were “played” by one of the CTWD post-docs, Florian Klonek, and the class unit instructor, Lisette Kanse).

The process focused organisation was designed to reflect a bureaucracy with simplified jobs (low autonomy, low task identity, low use of skills)- much like a production-line. The product focused organisation, on the other hand, had much more enriched jobs and the opportunity to regulate tasks within teams.


The orders came in via the CEO and trickled through each organisation to be eventually delivered to the client. As expected, the product focused organisation was more productive, delivering 3 out of 6 orders within the designated time frame.

At the end of the simulation, “employees” from both organisations met for a debriefing and to share their personal experiences within their respective organisation.

A short “employee perception survey” showed that the job characteristics between the two organisations differed widely.

Florian and Lisette used the results of the survey to discuss with the class how the systematic differences in job characteristics relate to the outcomes in job satisfaction and productivity.


Note: 1 = participants rated the particular job characteristic as very low in the “employee survey”; 5 = participants rated the particular job characteristic as very high in the “employee survey”

The small simulation helped to convey to participants the importance of good work design.

#OrganisationalPsychology #JobDesign

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