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Improving employee outcomes in the public sector: The beneficial effects of social support at work and job control

John J. Rodwell (Deakin Business School, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)
Andrew J. Noblet (Deakin Business School, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)
Amanda F. Allisey (Deakin Business School, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Publication date: 12 April 2011



The purpose of this paper is to examine the efficacy of the demand‐control‐support model, augmented with employee perceptions of organisational justice and degree of met expectations.


Data were collected from 128 public sector employees working in a large state police force operating under many of the elements of new public management. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted using four indicators of occupational strain: employee wellbeing, job satisfaction, organisational commitment and intent to quit.


The results of this study suggest that the demand‐control‐support model has great utility in identifying those aspects of the work environment associated with employee strain. Job control and social support at work in particular were the most consistent predictors. In contrast, the expectation and justice variables failed to make significant contributions to the model in all but one analysis providing no support for the “injustice as stressor” perspective.

Research limitations/implications

Although a cross‐sectional design was utilized, these results highlight the value of applying the parsimonious demand‐control‐support model to a wider set of outcomes, especially in a public sector environment.

Practical implications

The results emphasize the importance of the relatively neglected “softer” work characteristics support and control. In order to combat the ill‐effects of organisational reforms and prompt a shift towards the public value approach, managers operating under elements of new public management should ensure that adequate social support at work is available and that employee control is commensurate with their demands.


This study examined an augmented demand‐control‐support model and identified that whilst perceptions of justice can influence employee attitudes and wellbeing, the demand, control, and support variables remain the most influential factors with regard to public sector employee attitudes and wellbeing.



Rodwell, J.J., Noblet, A.J. and Allisey, A.F. (2011), "Improving employee outcomes in the public sector: The beneficial effects of social support at work and job control", Personnel Review, Vol. 40 No. 3, pp. 383-397.



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