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Not All Autonomy is the Same. Different Dimensions of Job Autonomy and Their Relation to Work Engagement & Innovative Work Behavior

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Human Factors and Ergonomics in Manufacturing & Service Industries

Published online on


Job autonomy is a key enabling factor for employee engagement and innovative employee behavior. Although job autonomy used to be viewed as a multi‚Äźdimensional construct, there has been little recent discussion on the different dimensions of job autonomy and how they relate to employee outcomes. This study uses a sample of 927 employees from different sectors to research the relation between autonomy regarding the (1) work method, (2) work scheduling, (3) work time and (4) place of work and two main employee outcomes: work engagement (WE) and innovative work behavior (IWB). The results show that all studied dimensions of autonomy are bivariatly related to higher levels of WE and IWB. Yet, when simultaneously analyzing the dimensions of job autonomy using structural equations modelling, most of the effects become insignificant. For WE, only the effect of work method autonomy is statistically significant. For IWB, work method and locational autonomy play a positive role. This signals that the current managerial attention for, e.g., work time autonomy (flexitime) does only contribute to enhanced work engagement and IWB insofar as such a systems result in higher work method autonomy.