The bright and dark sides of job autonomy

Bettina Kubicek, Matea Paškvan, Johanna Bunner

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingsChapter

57 Citations (Scopus)


In recent decades, the regulation of work has been increasingly handed over to the individual worker, who is given greater autonomy in performing his/her job. Employees can decide not only how (methods autonomy) but also when (worktime autonomy) and where they perform their work (workplace autonomy). Although an array of theoretical and empirical accounts have praised the positive effects of job autonomy on employee well-being and motivation since the 1970s, a small body of empirical work indicates that too much job autonomy may be detrimental to employees. This chapter therefore sheds light on the bright and dark sides of job autonomy in today’s world of work. It discusses different forms of job autonomy as well as their meaning in highly regulated and more flexible forms of work and offers insights into when job autonomy has beneficial and deleterious effects. It proposes that worktime and workplace autonomy are more likely to have negative effects on employee well-being than methods autonomy and that the potential positive and negative effects of various forms of autonomy are contingent on characteristics of the individual worker as well as on constellations of job characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationJob demands in a changing world of work
Subtitle of host publicationImpact on Workers' Health and Performance and Implications for Research and Practice
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9783319546780
ISBN (Print)9783319546773
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Job autonomy
  • Job characteristics
  • Personal characteristics
  • Strain
  • Too-much-of-a-good-thing effect
  • Well-being
  • Workplace autonomy
  • Worktime autonomy


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