Dr. Patricia Smith visits with Dr. William Balzer.

Dr. Patricia Smith visits with Dr. William Balzer at a campus lunch in her honor last year.


BGSU job satisfaction measure going nationwide

BGSU is partnering with a Florida survey research organization to offer businesses an online tool that measures how satisfied their employees really are in comparison to others nationwide.

The Normative Express® tool was developed by Amplitude Research, which is collaborating with Bowling Green’s industrial/organizational psychology program to provide job attitude measures that can be administered, scored and interpreted for any organization. Amplitude offers the Job Descriptive Index (JDI) and Job in General Index (JIG) created in the mid-1960s by Dr. Patricia Smith, a BGSU professor emeritus of psychology. Both the JDI and JIG are measures of job satisfaction that are used throughout the world.

Assessment is focused on the five key areas that influence overall job satisfaction: the work itself, pay, co-workers, opportunities for advancement and supervision.

Dr. Jennifer Gillespie
Dr. Jennifer Gillespie
In addition to measuring current employee job satisfaction, the Normative Express® allows organizations to easily compare results from administration of the indexes over time, which can track trends in satisfaction and help leaders better understand the impact of intervention programs. It is exclusively offered by Amplitude Research in cooperation with the JDI Research Group at BGSU, which holds the copyright for the two indexes.

All reports are automatically generated and include scorecards of relative employee satisfaction and customizable reporting of absolute employee satisfaction. “By automatically tallying and analyzing the results, it saves small and large companies the expense of hiring a consultant or specialist to compile the results,” said Dr. William Balzer, associate vice president and dean of Continuing & Extended Education. Balzer is an industrial/organizational psychologist and former chair of the psychology department.

The JDI Research Group worked closely with Amplitude to make sure the program correctly scored the results and that the information is presented in easily understandable layman’s terms, Balzer said.

The collaboration is part of BGSU’s ongoing efforts to both commercialize its products and discoveries and to share the knowledge it generates with the public, he noted.

The project was begun several years ago when Amplitude founder and CEO Stephen Birnkrant approached the group about combining his online survey tools with the content of the JDI and JIG. “I thought it was very forward-thinking of Bill (Balzer) to work out this agreement for providing the JDI online,” said Dr. Jennifer Gillespie, coordinator of the JDI Research Group. “We may be approaching the day when people are reluctant to take a pen-and-paper test,” she said.

The relationship with Amplitude pays off not only in dollars, she added, but in the increased rate of dissemination of the index and the resulting data BGSU receives on those taking the test, which it then uses to update its normative data.

It is the normative data that makes the JDI so significant, Gillespie said, because it gives businesses a context in which to consider the results of their employees’ satisfaction ratings.

Even more important, she said, is “how carefully constructed, tested and constantly updated the indexes are. Every step is painstakingly constructed.” This careful attention to detail and field testing is one of the attributes for which Smith has become internationally recognized and that make the indexes so valuable, she added.

The JDI is also valued for the simplicity and clarity of its questions. It asks users to respond to short words or phrases (such as pleasant, bad and ideal) with an answer of yes, no or question mark, Gillespie said. “In comparison with some other measures I’ve taken into the field, people actually seem to enjoy answering these questions.”

The JDI Research Group was founded by Smith to develop and refine measures of employee job satisfaction. Balzer noted that the group is the longest-running research group in the field of industrial/organizational psychology—almost 50 years. “She deserves the kudos for all of this,” he said of its founder.

“Pat is a luminary,” Gillespie agreed. “Some of the most well-known people in the field were her students. I have truly been honored to know her and to be able to be a part of what she built and has sustained here at BGSU.”

Among Smith’s many other contributions to the field of industrial psychology are the creation of the Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales—a method of employee evaluation—and research into the effects of monotony and boredom in the workplace. In 1984, she received the Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, a division of the American Psychological Association.

When she joined the BGSU faculty, Smith explained industrial psychology as "the process of making work more satisfying to everybody from the top executives on down," and noted there was “an acute shortage” of industrial psychologists. She helped to alleviate that shortage through her efforts, along with those of Distinguished University Professor Emeritus Dr. Robert Guion, to develop the industrial/organizational psychology program at Bowling Green. Today the program ranks third nationally, according to the 2006 edition of "America's Best Graduate Schools," published by U.S. News & World Report.

Smith is still active in the JDI Research Group, whose other members include Gillespie and Dr. Michael Zickar, an associate professor of industrial/organizational psychology, and Balzer.

To learn more about the JDI, visit

To learn more about the industrial/organizational psychology program, visit
February 13, 2006