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The role of work orientation and gender on feelings toward pay

Heini Ikävalko (Center for Knowledge and Innovation Research, Aalto University School of Business, Espoo, Finland)
Roosa Kohvakka (PwC Finland, Helsinki, Finland)

Gender in Management

ISSN: 1754-2413

Article publication date: 31 December 2020

Issue publication date: 3 April 2021




This paper aims to examine the moderating effect of employees’ work orientation and gender on their feelings toward pay, that is, the relationship between perceived fairness of a pay system and pay level satisfaction. The perceived fairness of pay system is investigated with two pay system procedures, namely, job evaluation and performance evaluation, both determining the level of base pay.


Survey data were collected from three public sector organizations in Finland (N = 526). Linear regression analysis was used to investigate the relationship between pay satisfaction, pay system fairness, work orientation and gender.


The results show that employees’ work orientation significantly and negatively relates to pay satisfaction. The interaction analyses suggest significant gender differences in the relationship between work orientation and pay satisfaction, as work orientation is negatively associated with pay satisfaction for women. They also show that work orientation and job evaluation fairness have a positive, joint effect on pay satisfaction.

Practical implications

This study has implications for the implementation of fair pay practices in organizations. The role of work orientation in the relationship between job evaluation fairness and pay satisfaction highlights the importance of pay system fairness especially among work-oriented employees. Special attention should be paid on work-oriented women: With equal perception of pay system fairness, work-oriented women feel unsatisfied with their pay.


This paper is the first study to highlight the role of work orientation and gender in reactions related to pay.



Ikävalko, H. and Kohvakka, R. (2021), "The role of work orientation and gender on feelings toward pay", Gender in Management, Vol. 36 No. 3, pp. 349-367.



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