RESEARCH STREAMS - OVERVIEW
In the CTWD, our research focuses on “all things work design”.
By work design, we mean the nature and organisation of people’s tasks, responsibilities, relationships, and activities, such as whether people work in teams and how much decision-making responsibility people have.
From a practical perspective, we use the SMART work design model to capture the key aspects of work that research has shown profoundly affect outcomes like mental health and job performance.
Our research is organised into five research streams:
Change in technology, business, the economy, and society - such as cognitive computing, globalization, flexible work spaces, and an ageing population - all shape the ‘what/how’, ‘where/when, and ‘who’ of work. This research stream focuses on how work is changing, and in particular, addresses the question: ‘what is the role of work design in delivering the benefits (or mitigating against the detriments) of radical change occurring in work and society?'
Traditional work design research focuses on how well-designed jobs are motivating and healthy; an important perspective that we continue with here. But we also go further to assess how work design might facilitate adult growth. We investigate the potentially powerful role of work design in preventing cognitive decline, fostering moral reasoning, and promoting identity change.
Via a new national longitudinal study, we address two key questions: ‘what is the role of work design in accelerating individual learning and development, including enhancing brain plasticity and preventing cognitive decline? and ‘which work designs optimize psychological growth across the lifespan?’
Our economic success depends on teams delivering critical services, creating infrastructure, and making innovative products. Work design research has always considered the design of team tasks. But, like research at the individual level, team work design research has mostly concerned motivation.
Issues such as how teams should be structured to enhance knowledge-sharing, or how control can be maintained without sacrificing flexibility, have had short shrift. In this stream, we ask: “how can work design enable coordinated agility within and across teams - reconciling the tension between control and flexibility – to achieve teams that are both efficient and innovative?”.
It is a striking observation that - despite much evidence of negative effects for individuals, organisations, and society - there continues to be many low quality jobs, lacking in autonomy and other positive work characteristics.
In this stream, we seek to better understand why poor work design persists, and how this situation can be changed.
We ask: ‘which global, national, organisational, and individual processes shape, and are shaped by, work design options and choices?’ and ‘what knowledge, skills, and motivation do stakeholders need to actively design good work?’
This research stream is part of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Population Ageing.
Led by Sharon Parker, in conjunction with Professor Marian Baird, University of Sydney and Professor Kaarin Anstey, Australian National University, the aim of this research is to identify work designs and practices to attract and retain mature workers in organisations, thus enhancing their performance and well-being, and improving productivity within organisations and society more broadly.