Ability assessment and job structure measures in occupational mobility

  • John A. Sparrow

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Recent and potential changes in technology have resulted in the anticipation of increases in the frequency of job changes. This has led manpower policy makers to investigate the feasibility of incorporating the employment skills of job groups in the general prediction of future job learning and performance with a view to the establishment of "job families" within which transfer might be considered reciprocally high.
A structured job analysis instrument (the Position Analysis Questionnaire) is evaluated in terms of two distinct sets of scores; job dimensions and synthetically established attribute/trait profiles.
Studies demonstrate that estimates of a job's structure/dimensions and requisite human attributes can be reliably established. Three alternative techniques of statistically assembling profiles of the requisite human attributes for jobs are found to have differential levels of reliability and differential degrees of validity in their estimation of the "actual" ability requirements of jobs.
The utility of these two sets of job descriptors to serve as representations of the cognitive structure similarity of job groups is investigated in a study which simulates a job transfer situation. The central role of the index of similarity used to assess the relationship between "target" and "present" job is demonstrated. The relative extents to which job structure similarity and job attribute similariity are associated with positive transfer are investigated.
The studies demonstrate that the dimensions of jobs, and more fruitfully their requisite human attributes can serve as bases to predict job transfer learning and performance. The nature of the index of similarity used to optimally formulate predictions of transfer is such that networks of jobs might be establishable to which current job incumbents could be expected to transfer
positively. The derivation of "job families" with anticipated reciprocal transfer consequences is considered to be less appropriate.
Date of AwardAug 1984
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorP. Spurgeon (Supervisor) & J. Patrick (Supervisor)


  • transfer
  • ability
  • skill

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