Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Robert R Taylor

Committee Member

Peter Wright

Committee Member

Carol Danehower

Committee Member

Coy Jones


As trends in the labor market indicate growing worker shortages, the problem of incorporating workers with low literacy skills into the workplace becomes more important. There are significant numbers of low literate workers in the labor market who pose hard dollar costs on business and society due to literacy related mistakes.Organizations have been moving toward more participative work designs in efforts to attract and maintain satisfied and motivated workforces. There are significant skill sets required to become successful team members. Many of these skills are outlined in management literature, but one glaring oversight is dealing with the issue of low literate workers. Little or no theoretical foundation has been established that proposes how to best incorporate low literate workers into organizations.The purpose of this study was to investigate the design of the workplace to determine if a team oriented work design or a directive management design was more conducive to maintaining self-efficacy beliefs of low literate workers. The study also considered coping styles of low literate workers as a potential moderating influence on the work-design self-efficacy relationship.Research was conducted on 179 subjects identified through participation in Adult Basic Education courses throughout West Tennessee. Low literate workers could not be given traditional pen and paper surveys so subjects were shown videotaped scenarios that represented the different work designs.The research showed that low literate workers had higher self-efficacy beliefs in a directive work setting than a participative work setting. Low literate workers also expressed greater preference for the directive setting than the participative setting. Coping strategies were not found to have significant influences on the self-efficacy beliefs. Recommendations are made for methods of including low literate workers in the organization and for additional streams of research that need to be considered.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.