New publication: Comparing work tasks of 160 occupations across eight European countries

Tijdens, K.G., De Ruijter, E., De Ruijter, J

In Employee Relations, 36 (2), pp.110 – 127


Purpose – Do similar job titles refer to the same work activities, as assumed often, but hardly empirically tested? The purpose of this paper is to analyze the similarity of 160 occupations within and across eight European countries using interrater agreement statistics (rWG).

Design/methodology/approach – Using a multilingual web survey, experts and jobholders in the eight countries rated the frequency of ten tasks per occupation they had knowledge of (n=4,197 ratings). Three hypotheses are investigated: first, interrater agreements of occupations are similar regardless the country; second, interrater agreements of occupations are similar within countries; and third, experts and jobholders are similar in their ratings.

Findings – Half of the occupations reveal no agreement across ratings, one-third shows a weak/moderate agreement and one in ten shows a strong agreement. H1 is rejected for task frequency but not for task importance. Within-country similarity of occupations is larger than across-country similarity. H2 is supported for two countries and rejected for two other countries. H3 is not supported. Jobholders demonstrate higher agreement than experts.

Research limitations/implications – An empirical testing of occupation-specific tasks for a wide range of occupations across Europe seems a viable approach.

Practical implications – The paper contributes to the challenges related to labor market mobility across borders.

Originality/value – Work tasks for a wide range of occupations and countries, using job-specific work activities in combination with web surveys and the internet for recruitment of jobholders, have not been used before.

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