Research Seminar

International Perspectives on Managing Digitalization and Job Satisfaction – Daniel Horgos

05 Dec 2023

24105 Kiel
Kiel Institut für Weltwirtschaft, Kiellinie 66


Daniel Horgos (BSP Business & Law School, Hamburg)


Job Satisfaction has long been considered an important aspect in the productivity of a firm’s work force. International research provides empirical evidence that what matters for job satisfaction is not just pecuniary characteristics of the work place but also non-pecuniary factors of the work and the workplace itself. Data shows that these dimensions become increasingly important the higher the living standard of an economy as measured by income is. They are thus of particular relevance for firms in advanced economies. Narratives about work at IT firms like Google and others suggest that a comfortable work environment that also acknowledges the human factor in labor gains importance in the digital economy and thus becomes an asset in the competition for scarce human resources. The speeding up of technological advances in the field of ICT (including AI) and the permeation of nearly all activities of firms thereby adds momentum to the managerial issues involved.

Thus far, the evidence on how information technologies and the digitization of the economy affect job satisfaction seems to be inconclusive though. Taking a closer look at the issues, some emphasize that work even becomes more stressful with the possibility to control an individual’s work and with the job insecurity increasing as the potential of automating processes broadens. Others point to the option of getting rid of repetitive and monotonous work and thus to the enabling properties of the digitization, augmenting labor and effectively upskilling the labor force.

The vast majority of contributions to the field explore managerial challenges of the digitization as to human resources either from a purely micro-perspective focusing on the firm or from a purely macro-perspective focusing on the various sectors and labor market segments of the economy. Both have in common though to approach the changes by asking how the digitization affects work and how to “adapt” to the changes -- as if the “disruptions” associated with the transition to a digital firm (or economy for that matter) were exogenous. Notwithstanding the relevance of both approaches, they might underrate the “leadership aspects” in the managerial tasks posed by the digitization, that is management in the true sense of the word.

We show that the marrying of both, the micro- and the macro-perspective, is important for identifying crucial parameters for management and for the managerial task of augmenting (rather than automating) labor with digitization. We do so by illuminating the components of job satisfaction by means of an international multi-level approach. In our empirical analysis, we thus draw on job satisfaction from the International Social Survey Program (ISSP), which provides ordinal information about perceptions at work at the individual level and on digitization data from the World Bank’s Digital Adoption Index (DAI), which measures digital adoption for more than 180 economies at the country level, distinguishing between three dimensions: people, government and business. In order to assess the relationship between job satisfaction and digitization, we combine these measures with a range of macro-control variables taken from the Penn World Tables (PWT) and the World Development Indicators (WDI). Accordingly, the question why firms in some countries are seemingly more successful in delivering on job satisfaction with digitization than in others is key to identifying what it takes for leadership at the firm level and for the management of the complexities involved in the digitization. Bringing in the international dimension of competition in managing the digital transformation is all the more important given (i) the imminent rearrangement of supply chains and (ii) the “friendshoring” towards countries which are economically and politically more alike. Both of these developments are expected to tighten competition in the field of digitization management.


Lecture Hall (A-032)