INTRINSIC AND EXTRINSIC SOURCES OF TRANSLATOR SATISFACTION: AN EMPIRICAL STUDY – Mónica Rodríguez-Castro, University of North Carolina at Charlotte (Estados Unidos)

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This paper discusses the main results from an online questionnaire on translator satisfaction—a theoretical construct that conceptualizes leading sources of task and job satisfaction in the language industry. The proposed construct distinguishes between intrinsic and extrinsic sources of satisfaction using Herzberg’s two-factor framework and enumerates the constituents of translator satisfaction. Statistical analysis allows this study to quantify these constituents and their correlations. Preliminary results reveal that crucial sources of task satisfaction include task pride, ability to perform a variety of tasks, and successful project completion. Major sources of job satisfaction include professional skills of team members, a continuous relationship with clients, and clients’ understanding of the translation process. Low income and requests for discounts are found to be some of the sources of dissatisfaction. The findings from this study can be used to investigate new approaches for retention and human resource management.
Este artículo presenta los principales resultados de una encuesta en línea que se enfoca en la satisfacción laboral del traductor en la actual industria de la lengua. La conceptualización teórica de la satisfacción laboral se divide en dos categorías fundamentales: satisfacción por tareas y satisfacción en el trabajo. El marco teórico establece una distinción entre fuentes intrínsecas y extrínsecas de satisfacción laboral adoptando como base los principios de la Teoría Bifactorial de Herzberg y enumera cada uno de los componentes de la satisfacción del traductor. Análisis estadísticos descriptivos permitirán cuantificar estos constituyentes y sus correlaciones. Los resultados preliminares indican que el orgullo tras realizar la traducción, capacidad de ofrecer múltiples servicios y la culminación del proyecto con éxito son fuentes cruciales de satisfacción al realizar tareas. Con respecto a la satisfacción en el trabajo, las fuentes predominantes son las destrezas profesionales del equipo, relación continuada con el cliente y la familiaridad del cliente con el mundo de la traducción. Por el contrario, los sueldos bajos y los descuentos de tarifas son los principales inhibidores de satisfacción. Los datos del estudio se integrarán en iniciativas de retención laboral y recursos humanos.

The main contribution of this study is the proposal of a new theoretical construct of intrinsic and extrinsic sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction in the current language industry. This comprehensive construct is able to detect most of the intrinsic sources of satisfaction in the facet of task satisfaction, whereas the facet of job satisfaction reveals many critical sources of dissatisfaction. The results of this study suggest that the most crucial sources of task satisfaction for translators in the current LI are derived from successful completion of projects, ability to perform a wide variety of tasks, and intrinsic pride in their work. Additionally, translators are satisfied with their understanding of task scope, clarity of task description, and tasks related to their specialization. Translation professionals are also somewhat satisfied with terminological complexity and with opportunities to work on challenging tasks. Translators feel that subject matter expertise has become important to meet deadlines, and deadlines are frequently too tight. Conversely, translators generally disagree with the need to work faster to accomplish tasks, and agree that clients often do not understand the localization process.
Interestingly, no significant sources of dissatisfaction have been found in the facet of task satisfaction. This might be attributed to the fact that translation professionals are highly qualified individuals who enjoy their tasks, perform their tasks promptly, and take a strong pride in their work. Thus, it is extremely important for LSPs or employers to enhance these intrinsic satisfiers at all stages of a translator’s career. LSPs can enhance these satisfiers by implementing policies that keep translators motivated, and improve their productivity. These policies will allow employers to retain and build their labor force, and avoid a high employee turnover. These policies can also significantly reduce the costs of recruiting and re-training new employees by reducing translator turnover.
Leading sources of job satisfaction found in this study include the professional skills of team members and a continuous and respectful relationship with clients. Translators feel satisfied with their contribution toward improving quality, and they feel somewhat satisfied with performance appraisals, the level of responsibility, and autonomy in decision making. Translators are generally satisfied with such characteristics of the job as working overtime, schedule flexibility, opportunities to telecommute, and their ability to find a balance between work and personal life. Translators show a preference for PMs that match skills to project requirements and execute well-planned projects. Most translators also indicate that they have not seen evidence of the PM influencing upper management or the end client. The data presented in this study highlights the need for clearly drafted procedures that are put in place by the PM, and the need for the PM to play an active role in mediating in the translator-upper management relationship, and among the translation team. The impact of the PM on translator satisfaction is observed in this study through sources such as clarity of task descriptions, workflow management, and systematization of the translation process. Interestingly, the PM may also contribute to translator satisfaction by avoiding requests for discounts and tight deadlines, which emerge as dissatisfiers among translation professionals in the facet of job satisfaction.
The concepts studied in this work have contributed to answering the initial research questions put forth in this article, and have helped in the assessment of the viability of the framework that has been proposed for an initial construct of translator satisfaction. In the future, the viability of the theoretical construct proposed in this study will be examined further by using linear regression analysis in order to attempt to develop a predictive model for task and job satisfaction. Furthermore, hypothesis testing will be used in the future to compare the responses of specific population groups such as full time and part time translation professionals, or experts and novices. Such an analysis may also be used to comprehend the reasons for high variability observed in some of the responses for the survey questionnaire used for this study.
The construct proposed in this study can also have direct implications for LSPs, employers, managers, trainers, and recruiters within the LI. The conceptual framework and concepts identified in this study can be used to further understand the state of translator satisfaction in the language industry and, particularly, help address some of the issues related to the outsourcing model. Comprehending sources of satisfaction is crucial for improving translator productivity and enhancing stakeholder satisfaction. Tackling the sources of dissatisfaction found in translator work settings may reduce labor force turnover. The construct proposed in this article may also point to ways by which LSPs can improve the translator-PM/end client relationship, pointing to best practices for projectized organizations vis-à-vis virtual collaborative environments, the role of the PM as well as new workflow and task requirements.
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