This article aims at explaining work autonomy using contingency theory and agency theory. While prior research relies on individual level data (sometimes across nations), the present analysis specifically aims at understanding work autonomy as a management decision at the organizational level. Data were collected among 670 private companies in the Netherlands using a survey. The companies represent a cross section of the Dutch economy. The data are analyzed using regression analysis. The factors derived from contingency theory and agency theory turn out to predict the use of work autonomy. More generally, they can be understood as internal and external fit factors and the agency problems associated with them. These contingency factors include task characteristics, organizational size, organizational governance, and external developments. Whereas work autonomy is often viewed as a matter of organizational design, much of the empirical work relied on individual level data. As a result, little is known about organizational factors related to the provision of autonomy of workers. For actors involved in organizational practices (e.g. managers and consultancy), the article offers a number of suggestions for managing autonomy. This article specifically focuses on the organizational level by examining data collected among companies.

Bureaucracy, Organizational Theory, Organization Design & Development, Survey Research, Work Autonomy
Dynamic Relationships Management Journal

Koster, F. (2021). Organizing for autonomy. Dynamic Relationships Management Journal. Retrieved from