Purpose – To identify the problematic areas relating to the current managerial practices in motivating engineers and evaluating their relative contribution to the overall level of engineers’ satisfaction. Design/methodology/approach – Based on a conceptual model, an empirical study was conducted within 11 organizations operating in the food machinery industry in Italy. A survey was carried out on 376 development engineers staffed in these companies and a statistical analysis was conducted on the data collected in order to refine and operationalize the conceptual model proposed and to investigate the relative effects of the various factors considered. Findings – From the statistical analysis it emerged that job satisfaction can be split into three dimensions and that it is impacted by five factors related to managerial policies, perception of engineers’ status and job-related motivational mechanisms. Practical implications – The analysis clearly suggests that engineers in industry are generally dissatisfied and largely demotivated. It also emphasizes the importance of sound managerial practices that enables the organization to establish appropriate reward systems, to understand engineers’ expectations as technical professionals and to provide them with task-related motivational tools fostering challenge and flexibility. Originality/value – It addresses an explanation of engineers’ satisfaction based on a theoretical framework, striving to identify key motivational stimuli effective with engineers.
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