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A Dynamic Perspective on Job Knowledge Characteristics during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 August 2023

Jiping Li
Department of Management, Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, Frankfurt, Germany
Lida L. Zhang
Department of Management and Marketing, University of Macau, Macau, China
Kaixian Mao*
School of Labor and Human Resources, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China
Corresponding author: Kaixian Mao (


Job knowledge characteristics have long been regarded as relatively fixed. However, this may no longer be the case given the dynamic and complex situations faced by employees during the COVID-19 pandemic. On the basis of event system theory and the work design literature, we argue that the onset of COVID-19 created an immediate decrease in job knowledge characteristics, which gradually increased over time in the post-onset period because of employees’ coping with the pandemic. The rate of increase in job knowledge characteristics is higher for those with higher individual task adaptivity than for others. We further argue that changes in job knowledge characteristics produced changes in job stress, and that this effect is weakened by job security. We conducted a 6-month, 6-wave longitudinal survey to gather data from 235 employees in Macau, China covering the pre-onset, onset, and post-onset periods of the COVID-19 outbreak. The results, based on discontinuous growth modeling and latent change score modeling, support our arguments. Our study advances the dynamic view of work design by identifying how a macro event may shape job knowledge characteristics and the implications of a time-to-time change in job knowledge characteristics. Overall, we suggest that there are psychological costs when employees cope at work with the business interruptions caused by COVID-19.



长期以来,工作知识特征被认为是相对固定的。然而,鉴于员工在 COVID-19 疫情期间所面临的变动和复杂情况,工作知识特征可能不再固定。基于事件系统理论和工作设计文献,我们认 为 COVID-19 的爆发使得原有的工作知识特征即刻下降。而在发生后的一段时间内,员工需要应对COVID-19 疫情所带来的挑战,其工作知识特征逐渐增加。尤其是对于任务适应性较高的员工,其增加率要高于其他人。而且,工作知识特征的变化会带来工作压力的变化,但这种影响会被工作安全感削弱。我们在 2019–2020 年进行了为期 6 个月的纵向调查,收集了中国澳门 235 名员工的数据,涵盖了 COVID-19 疫情爆发前、爆发中、和爆发后的阶段。基于不连续增长模型和潜变计分模型的数据分析结果支持了我们的观点。本研究通过发现宏观事件如何影响工作知识特征以及工作知识特征的变化而产生的影响,发展了用动态视角看待工作设计的领域。本研究结果表明,员工为了应对 COVID-19 造成的组织正常业务的中断,需要调整其工作知识特征,而在此过程中会产生心理成本。

Copyright © The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of International Association for Chinese Management Research

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