Burnout in Various Professions

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					      Chapter II

Review of Researches

                         Review of Researches


T      hough situational and organizational factors are regarded as chiefly responsible
       for burnout (Maslach, Schaufeli & Leiter, 2003), these factors fail to explain
       why only some individuals experience burnout in the face of stressors even as
there seem to be others who are able to successfully cope with those very stressors
under the same working conditions (Buhler & Land, 2003). The implication is that
such idiosyncratic ways of reacting and responding to stress can only arise from
individual factors. Individual factors not only influence one’s choice of occupation
but also determine one’s vulnerability to stress in that occupation and the ability to
cope with them. Failure to cope with chronic stress leads to burnout, and the
individual differences arise from the differences in demographic characteristics,
personality traits and personal expectations. These factors determine who experiences
Demographic Factors
The demographic variables that have been found to have some influence on burnout
are age, gender, marital status and the level of education.
Age and Experience
Younger employees tend to experience more burnout than the older employees.
Though most studies agree that the younger individuals experience more emotional
exhaustion, there is no consensus on the effect of age on the other two dimensions of
burnout (cf. Cordes & Dougherty, 1992). The same review also indicates that there is
a general consensus that experience has no relation with any of the components of
burnout. But Maslach et al. (2001) warn that there might be what they call a ‘survival
bias’ in these findings. The survival bias arises from the fact that those who burnout
quit their jobs when young and the more resilient survivors who are left with the
organization would naturally be less susceptible to burnout.
There have been no consistent results as to the relation between gender and burnout
with some studies reporting more burnout in men, others in women, and still others
finding no influence of gender at all. But the consensus is that females score higher on
the exhaustion dimension, and males score higher on the dimension of cynicism (cf.
Cordes & Dougherty, 1992; Maslach, Schaufeli & Leiter, 2001). But as Maslach et al.
warn again, this could be because of confounding of sex with occupation. One study
of interest to managers was done among a sample of 433 telecommunication
employees. The results indicated that males experience more emotional exhaustion
and depersonalization if they are in managerial positions, whereas females experience
more emotional exhaustion and depersonalization if they are in non-managerial
positions (Pretty, McCarthy & Catano, 1992).

Review of Researches                                                                2.2
Marital Status
Married employees report less burnout than the unmarried employees. Within the
married group, childless employees are more susceptible to burnout, and within the
unmarried group, single employees are more prone to burnout than the divorced
employees (Maslach & Jackson, 1985; Maslach, Schaufeli & Leiter, 2001). This
difference in the levels of burnout between the married and unmarried is due to the
‘hidden contract’ that exists between the married employee and his wife, whereby the
wife takes on a supporting role and provides a ‘safe haven’ for her husband to
rejuvenate (Cooper & Marshall, 1978). Even within the married group, the quality of
relationships would determine whether the influence on burnout is positive or
negative with ‘spillover’ between the work-context and family-context possible in
both the directions (Cherniss, 1980).
Level of Education
The level of burnout is greater among the employees having a higher level of
education and the possible reasons for this could be that they are saddled with greater
responsibilities and hence experience greater stress. The other possible reason could
be that the better educated come in with greater expectations which when not realized
leads to burnout (Maslach, Schaufeli & Leiter, 2001).
Personality Characteristics
The personality traits of an individual remain stable over time and indicate the
vulnerability of a person to burnout. Personality variables are the most extensively
studied of all individual factors in burnout, and the foundation was laid by Kahn et
al.’s (1964) pioneering study of managers to delineate the personality variables
making them susceptible to occupational stress. The study showed that the ‘rigid’
types were stressed by rush jobs imposed from above, whereas the flexible types,
since they were open to others, would become overloaded and hence stress-prone. The
‘security seekers’ were found to be less independent and less involved in their jobs
than the ‘achievement seekers’, and hence, more susceptible to stress. In the early
studies, coronary heart disease was used as the marker of severe occupational stress.
Subsequent studies have shown that the personality features that particularly influence
the process of burnout are neuroticism, hardiness, locus of control; Type A behavior
pattern, psychological type, self-efficacy and self-esteem.
The first studies using the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) and
the 16 PF (Cattell’s 16 Personality Factors Scale) indicated that people with coronary
heart disease, an indicator of severe stress, differ from the healthy population in that
their scores indicate ‘neuroticism’, emotional instability and introversion, the scores
being much higher for those cases which ended in fatality (cited in Cooper &
Marshall, 1978). Neuroticism is a constellation of traits and dispositions – excessive
and conflicting motivation as the strong craving for success is in conflict with the
intense fear of competition and desire for approval, with attendant guilt and self-
punishing behavior; emotionality which hinders objective judgment of the situation
and makes one severely anxiety-prone in a conflicting or stressful situation;
inadequate coping capacity and the propensity to act impulsively; and low self-esteem
and an excessive concern with the opinion of others (Cherniss, 1980). People with
neurotic tendencies show neurotic behavior mainly when they are under stress, and

Review of Researches                                                                2.3
otherwise behave normally. In a study examining the differential effects of the Big
Five personality factors on the three components of burnout; only neuroticism was
found to be predictive of the experience of exhaustion in burnout (Zellars, Perrewe
and Hochwaiter, 2000). In a later study, Zellars et al. (2004) found that neuroticism
significantly predicted both the exhaustion and depersonalization dimensions, and that
this is mediated through negative moods. Similar results showing the relation between
high scores on neuroticism and burnout have been obtained by other researchers as
well (Piedmont, 1993; Buhler & Land, 2003). But it has also been indicated that
people high on neuroticism tend to report higher levels of burnout though this may not
be actually the case (Watson & Clark, 1984). This happens because their neurotic
disposition makes them misinterpret the situation and they experience stress as
disproportionately pronounced. The resultant greater subjective stress and the
inadequate coping styles make them more vulnerable to burnout (Buhler & Land,
Kobasa (1979) found in a study of 700 executives at AT&T Corporation that it is
psychological hardiness rather than age, education or job level that differentiates
between those who stay healthy and those who breakdown under stress. Psychological
hardiness is a constellation of three components – commitment, control and challenge.
A hardy person has the belief that what he is doing is important, and hence, is more
committed to work, family and other things in life. He has the adaptability and
confidence to see unexpected changes as challenges that he can face and control by
influencing the outcomes. That people with low level of hardiness are more
susceptible to job stress and illness was confirmed subsequently in such studies as a
prospective study of executives (Kobasa, Maddi & Kahn, 1982) and in a study among
public sector employees (Rush, Schoel & Barnard, 1995). It has also been found that
higher levels of hardiness results in lower burnout (Duquette et al., 1995). Hardiness
has also been found to have a strong negative correlation with neuroticism leading to
suggestions that it might be the opposite of neuroticism (Stroebe & Stroebe, 1994).
Knowing how the trait of hardiness develops in an individual through further research
could help in designing socialization and training strategies that could help an
individual learn this coping strategy to avoid burnout (Toscano & Ponterdolph, 1998).
Locus of Control
Locus of control refers to a person’s belief in his own ability to control his own
destiny (Rotter, 1966). This is a fairly stable personality trait and is distinct from
autonomy, which is a situational or organizational property (Kahn & Byosiere, 1992).
People with an internal locus of control attribute the successes as well as the failures
to their own selves, and they tend to have a better mental health (cf. Glass &
McKnight, 1996; Kahn & Byosiere, 1992) and are less susceptible to work related
stress (Cohen & Edwards, 1989). In an Indian study conducted among 200 Indian
male senior bank employees using Pareek’s Organizational Role Stress Scale and
Rotter’s Internal-External Scale to find out the relation between locus of control and
role stress, those with an external locus of control scored significantly on role
expectation conflict, role overload and role ambiguity. This study offered partial
confirmation to the belief that less stress is experienced by those with an internal
locus of control as compared to those with an external locus of control (Malik &
Sabharwal, 1999). Though there is evidence from longitudinal studies that a high
internal locus of control results in positive mental health, there is no such conclusive

Review of Researches                                                                2.4
evidence as yet about its buffering effect on the negative consequences of work stress
(Daniels & Guppy, 1994; Newton & Keenan, 1990). Those with an external locus of
control attribute the causes of the events in their life and the outcome of their work to
outside influences and fate, rather than to their own efforts. The presence of this trait
is prognostic of burnout and it has a positive correlation with the exhaustion and
depersonalization dimensions (Buhler & Land, 2003). A study of personnel officers in
public and private organizations in Los Angeles showed that the burnouts have an
external locus of control as opposed to the non-burnouts, who have an internal locus
of control (Glogow, 1986), and the negative correlation between the strength of the
internality of the locus of control and burnout was confirmed in a study among the
Israeli military career officers (Etzion & Westman, 1994). But it has also been
suggested that greater stress can be experienced by those with an internal locus of
control when they believe themselves to be responsible for negative outcomes
(Heider, 1958; Folkman, 1984).
Type A Behaviour Pattern
The idea of Type A as a personality characteristic originated from the work of
Friedman and Rosenman (1974) that coronary heart disease is found in people having
a distinct behaviour pattern, which they termed as ‘coronary-prone behavior pattern
Type A’ as opposed to the low risk Type B pattern. The features that characterize this
personality type make the individual experience and react to stress in a way that puts
him at a greater risk of burnout. The typical features of Type A pattern are excessive
competitiveness and achievement orientation, preoccupation with work and deadlines,
a chronic sense of time urgency which is even manifested in their hurried overt
behavior, and control-orientation and impatience which gets expressed as aggressive
and hostile behavior. Even when faced with an impossible task, the Type A person
would drive himself hard to maintain the same level of achievement, and this inability
to set realistic standards makes him particularly susceptible to frustrations and
negative emotions.
Though the greater job involvement and superior performance of Type A persons
makes them valuable as managers as was found in a study of 132 bank managers in
India (Kunnatt, 2003), their behaviour pattern can also have serious dysfunctional
consequences for the organization. The Type A individual can be a cause of serious
stress for his colleagues and subordinates because of his need to control, inability to
delegate work, and his propensity to demand too much from others (Sutherland and
Cooper, 2000); moreover, the Type A behavior may itself ultimately lead to
helplessness, hopelessness and despair, i.e. burnout (Hallsten, 1993).
Type A persons experience greater job stress when they feel that their level of control
is low (Rhodewalt et al., 1991), and even in an insoluble situation, they indulge in
self-blame for the failure when their attempts at control fail (Vingerhoets & Flohr,
1984). A study across 13 different companies found that Type A trait forces the
individual to take more responsibility for others leading to role overload, and this
results in strong psychological strains (Winnubst et al., 1996). An examination of the
two components of Type A behavior pattern – ‘achievement striving’ and
‘impatience/irritability’ – in 106 employees working in a large Canadian organization
showed that these components moderated the relationship between job stressors such
as overload, ambiguity, intra-role conflict and lack of job control, and psychosocial
outcomes of job satisfaction, perceived stress and life satisfaction (Day & Jreige,
2002). Akinnusi’s (1995) study of a sample of 72 senior and intermediate managers

Review of Researches                                                                 2.5
working in a bank in Nigeria showed higher levels of behavioural stress and less of
Type A personality among women as compared to men.
In a study conducted on a group of 332 German managers to investigate the effects of
Type A behavior pattern and locus of control on the level of job satisfaction and
occupational health, it was seen that those with Type A personality and an external
locus of control showed more perceived level of stress and poorer physical and mental
health than those with Type B personality and an internal locus of control. Lower
levels of work satisfaction were seen in those with an external locus of control, and
more so when this was coupled with Type A personality traits; in fact, so much so that
the authors caution against the superficial attractiveness of this type of personality and
its reported suitability for the role of a manager (Kirkcaldy, Shephard & Furnham,
2002). But a similar study done on a set of 255 German and British managers had
failed to find the existence of a significant relationship between personality, work
satisfaction and general health among German managers. However, in the British
sample, greater levels of job satisfaction along with better physical and mental health
was reported by the Type A internals. Also, while both Type A internals and externals
were found to exhibit greater mental illness, it was the Type B externals who reported
the existence of higher number of physical symptoms (Kirkcaldy, Cooper and
Furnham, 1999). Type A behavior has been particularly linked to the exhaustion
component of burnout (Schaufeli & Enzmann, 1998; Maslach, Schaufeli & Leiter,
Psychological Type
An extremely interesting study by Garden (1989) that compared the dimensions of
burnout in a human services sample of 81 nurses and a non-human services sample of
194 mid-career managers using the MBI to assess the level of burnout and the Myers
Briggs Type Inventory to classify the respondents as ‘thinking types’ and the ‘feeling
types’ threw up unexpected and interesting results about the significance of
personality in the genesis of burnout. This study questioned the earlier findings
limited to human services samples that regarded and generalized emotional demands
as the sole causative factor in burnout, and showed the significance of mental
demands in the development of burnout. More people working in the human services
are the ‘feeling’ personality types, whereas the managerial cadre is dominated by the
‘thinking’ personality types. The study found that the pattern of burnout is different
for the two psychological types within the occupation but similar for the same
psychological type across the two occupations (i.e. human service or non-human
service), indicating that the effect of psychological type is more important than the
occupation in the development of burnout. Also, just as emotional demands cause
exhaustion among the feeling types; it is mental demands that cause exhaustion
among the thinking types. The unusual finding was the fact that the ‘feeling’ type
person facing mental demands in the job (e.g. a feeling type person in a managerial
position) would not be as exhausted by these mental demands as by emotional
demands. Similarly, a thinking type person is susceptible to burnout due to mental
demands rather than emotional demands. Though higher burnout occurs only when
the type of demand matches the psychological type, a mismatch of the type of demand
and the psychological type leads to higher experienced stress (Garden, 1985a). It has
been found in later studies that the ‘feeling type’ persons may be more vulnerable to
the cynicism component of burnout than the ‘thinking type’ individuals (Maslach,
Schaufeli & Leiter, 2001)

Review of Researches                                                                  2.6
Self-efficacy, Competence and Self-esteem
The concept of self-efficacy has been borrowed from social learning theory (Bandura,
1977), and in the occupational context, it refers to the employee’s judgement of his
own capability to perform his job (Riggs & Knight, 1994). Unlike locus of control,
which is a stable personality trait and more global, self-efficacy is more domain
specific (Bunk et al., 1998). Work stress has been shown to have more deleterious
effects on people with low self-efficacy than in those with high self-efficacy (Jex &
Bliese, 1999; VanYperen, 1998). Professional self-efficacy has even been considered
central in the process of burnout because one cannot adapt without having a sense of
mastery, and no amount of other interventions can prevent the likelihood of burnout in
the absence of perceived self-efficacy (Cherniss, 1993). For example, greater personal
control has been suggested to buffer work stress, but it has been found that the
potential benefits of this opportunity can only be reaped by people who have high
self-efficacy (Jimmieson, 2000). Self-efficacy also determines the coping style of the
individual, those low in efficacy tending to adopt a passive and defensive or avoidant
coping style, whereas, those high in self-efficacy adopt a more confrontative coping
style. The coping style that a person adopts has a major influence on the process of
burnout (Maslach, Schaufeli & Leiter, 2001). The domain specificity of self-efficacy
and its link to burnout has been further corroborated in a study of burnout among
information technology workers in which two levels of self-efficacy were considered
– generalized self-efficacy and a specific self-efficacy (computer self-efficacy in this
study). The results showed that the greater and more specific the self-efficacy, the
greater is its moderator role and lesser the likelihood of burnout (Salanova, Peiró, &
Schaufeli, 2002). The universality of the negative association of general self-efficacy
with burnout has been confirmed in a study conducted across nine countries (Perrewé
et al., 2001). A closely related concept, optimism, has been shown to be a strong
predictor of job burnout, and its influence is independent of the stress (Chang, Rand &
Strunk, 2000). Since the concept of self-efficacy refers to the subjective evaluation of
competence and it plays a significant role in the process of burnout, even objective
competence should be a key issue in the development of burnout but this is one area
where no research studies exist (Bunk et al., 1998).
Self-esteem has been defined as a global self-evaluation that expresses an attitude of
approval or disapproval and it has two elements – a belief in one’s own ability
(similar to self-efficacy), and also a belief in one’s worth (Janssen, 1999). Since self-
efficacy is subsumed under self-esteem, people with low sense of self-efficacy tend to
have low self-esteem (Tang et al., 2001). Self-esteem influences the appraisal of the
stressful situation by an individual and the meaning he ascribes to it, and this in turn
dictates the coping strategy he adopts, which could be either functional or
dysfunctional, in the latter case it could lead to burnout (Kahn & Byosiere, 1992).
Since people with poor self-esteem are ineffective in their interpersonal relationships,
they are more likely to use depersonalization, and they are also more vulnerable to
exhaustion in emotionally demanding situations (Janssen, 1999). Rosse et al. (1991)
found that poor self-esteem can be both a cause and a consequence of burnout. In their
study of two samples of police officers and hospital employees, they found a negative
relation of self-esteem with both the dimensions and the phase measures of burnout,
and indicated that self-esteem is an important variable in predicting the likelihood of
burnout in an individual.

Review of Researches                                                                 2.7
Personal Expectations from the Job
The choice of occupation is rooted in one’s own life experiences and every individual
brings in a set of expectations to the job when he joins an organization – achievement
expectations about what to accomplish in performing his job, which in the case of
professionals would be mainly inculcated while training for a professional
qualification (Gold, 1995), and organizational expectations about his job and
profession as a member of that employing organization which would essentially be
shaped by the organization itself during the time of recruitment (Wanous, 1973). Both
unmet expectations and shifts in expectations influence the levels of burnout. The
former would be particularly true of the new recruit as was found with graduates
entering a managerial career (Hall, 1976), and the greater the discrepancy between the
initial expectations and the reality, the more debilitating will be the nature of stress
experienced due to unmet expectations and this may lead to burnout (Wanous, 1973,
1976; Cordes & Dougherty, 1992). The risks of having very high and unreasonable
expectations and the accompanying enthusiasm have been described as ‘first inflamed
the outburned’ (Schwanold et al. cited in Buhler & Land, 2003). In older employees,
negative shifts in expectations occur and with experience they lower the expectations
to reasonable levels. This explains why older employees tend to experience less
burnout than the younger ones. Moreover, in the human services context, the new
employees judge the extent of fulfillment of their expectations based on the progress
made by the client, whereas, the experienced employees will have shifted from these
client-centred expectations to the position where they judge the fulfillment of their
expectations on the basis of their own competencies (Cordes & Dougherty, 1992).
Pines (1993) brings in the existential perspective to explain the genesis of burnout
from unmet high expectations. The professional who joins an occupation with very
high expectations and idealism does so because it is through his work that he wishes
to infuse his life with purpose and meaning. When he fails in that quest, it manifests
itself as burnout.

The following set of factors that precipitate job burnout come into play owing to the
membership of the individual in the organization by the virtue of his/her being an
Work Characteristics
Physical Work Environment
The physical work environment comprising factors such as noise, lighting, vibration,
temperature and ventilation, hygiene and physical hazards can be source of stress, and
it is the subjective reactivity to these factors that is more important than the objective
measures leading some to comment that ‘stress is in the eye of the beholder’
(Sutherland & Cooper, 2000). Every occupation has its own set of physical work
environment stressors that heighten arousal, and the main psychosocial impact of
these factors is that the accumulated physical frustration and tension lead to poor
interpersonal relationships (Keenan & Kerr, 1951), affect motivation levels, and
ultimately increase the susceptibility of the employees to other stressors (Smith et al.,

Review of Researches                                                                  2.8
Noise can be a potent source of stress not only in factory situations where it can even
lead to occupational deafness, but also in office settings. In a study of noise in
landscaped offices, the noise of conversation, its content more than its loudness, was
reported as being extremely annoying by 46 percent of the employees (Nemeck &
Granjean, 1973). In a more recent study conducted on a sample of 128 office workers
to understand the negative impact of occupational noise on employee health, no direct
effect of ambient noise on the three explored outcomes- of job satisfaction, well being
or organizational commitment was found, however, it was observed that the negative
impact of psychosocial job stress on the three outcomes was mitigated by lower levels
of ambient noise (Leather, Beale and Sullivan, 2003). The harmful influences are
mediated by the personality characteristics and cause higher levels of anxiety,
irritability, hostility and aggression leading to negative behavioral outcomes, and even
cause non-auditory diseases such as cardiovascular disorders. Similarly, vibrations
due to machines in factories, ventilation systems, and even in the living quarters as in
offshore rigs, can be a source of psychological imbalance even if the employees assert
that they get used to it (Sutherland & Cooper, 2000). The prevalence of this stressor is
evident from the 1996 survey report of the European Foundation for the Improvement
of Living and Working Conditions that 11 percent of workers are permanently
exposed to vibration and 24 percent a quarter of time on their jobs.
Another physical factor that has drawn attention is poor lighting, the flicker of
fluorescent lights, and the glare of bright lights which could lead to visual fatigue,
tension and frustration. Even attempts by architects to solve this problem by creating
windowless environment with artificial illumination has led to 90 percent employees
expressing dissatisfaction with the absence of windows (Sutherland & Cooper, 2000).
Other potential sources of stressors are uncomfortable temperatures and humidity, and
unclean and disorderly workplaces and restrooms. Even physical hazards and
psychological trauma due to the dangers inherent in the job, and aggressive and
violent clients in customer services can be sources of stress and fatigue that need to be
addressed (Sutherland & Cooper, 2000).
There is an optimal level of workload that brings out the best in an employee, and
both under load and overload, be they quantitative or qualitative, when out of the
control of the employee, can be stressful. Both work under-load and overload can
result in negative emotions depending upon the discrepancy between the workload
and the abilities and aspirations of the employee (Buunk et al., 1998). While
qualitative under-load and qualitative overload both result in job dissatisfaction, the
former is also associated with depression, irritation and psychosomatic symptoms and
the latter with tension and low self-esteem (ILO, 1986).
Too little work or under-load can lead to apathy, boredom and low morale, or what
has been termed ‘rust out’, and it is a significant predictor of dissatisfaction, anxiety
and depression (Cooper & Kelly, 1984). Although Maslach (1993) regards the view
that under load and monotonous work can lead to burnout to be erroneous as she
believes emotional exhaustion presupposes overload and high arousal, using the
existential perspective (Pines, 1993) would lead one to expect even under load to
cause burnout when a person enters the job with high expectations as is particularly
true of new recruits. In fact, Keenan and Newton (1985) reported that engineers in
their study regarded the feeling of one’s efforts having gone wasted as the most
stressful, and qualitative under load as the third-most stressful condition.

Review of Researches                                                                 2.9
Work overload can be intermittent or seasonal as happens with air traffic controllers
or accountants, or it can be continuous such as when there is a restructuring or
rightsizing of an organization due to reallocation of work to the few employees left.
Qualitative workload is a stressor particularly faced by managers (Cooper & Marshall,
1978). The review of burnout literature shows that emotional exhaustion dimension of
burnout is strongly related to workload (Schaufeli and Enzmann, 1998) and this was
further supported by a study of two samples of 245 bank employees and 362 teachers
which showed that emotional exhaustion is primarily predicted by workload (Houkes
et al., 2001). The effects of drastic seasonal increase in workloads were studied on a
sample of public accountants. The accountants worked for 49 hours per week in the
pre-busy season which increased to 63 hours in the busy season and this drastic
increase in workload resulted in greater burnout (Sweeny & Scott, 2002). In a study
conducted on hospital and nursing home employees, it was found that high workload
is significantly responsible for burnout when there is low decision latitude
(Landsbergis, 1988). The attempt to replicate the findings of research from service
settings in an industrial setting with self-managed work teams reported that so long as
there is also adequate time to complete the task, increased workload does not lead to
burnout; instead, increased workload has a negative relationship with emotional
exhaustion and depersonalization resulting in diminished burnout. This difference in
findings could be because the work in industrial settings is impersonal and the
positive factors associated with healthy teams may have modified the impact of
increased workload by making it challenging and invigorating (Elloy, Terpening &
Kohls, 2001).
Work Hours and Time pressure
Though qualitative overload results from the employee’s feeling that he does not have
the ability to perform the assigned task and quantitative overload arises from the
feeling that the task cannot be completed in the allotted time (Cordes & Dougherty,
1993), managers, especially those with certain personality traits as detailed in the
earlier section, may react to any overload by working longer hours (Cooper &
Marshall, 1978). Though organizational changes have increased the objective
workload of managers, peer pressure and the need to visibly demonstrate commitment
due to insecurity also force managers to work longer hours and result in the
dysfunctional outcome of presenteeism, i.e. working such hours that one becomes
ineffective (Cooper & Sutherland, 2000). A study of managers in the hospital industry
showed that managers who worked for more than 70 hours per week reported greater
emotional exhaustion and were less useful to the organization than those working
under 60 hours. The respondents did not experience a sense of achievement in
working longer hours challenging the prevailing view that managers take a perverse
pleasure in doing so (Krone, Tabacchi & Farber, 1989).
A meta-analytic review of the effect of hours of work on health found a significant
positive correlation between the number of hours at work and psycho-physiological
symptoms, the important factors mediating this relation being the type of job (mental
work being more taxing), working environment, age (the older being more
vulnerable), and most important of all, choice or the freedom to choose particular
hours of work. The study also pointed out that among Japanese, who work for 200-
300 hours more annually than their Western counterparts, karoshi or death from
overwork has become a major social problem (Sparks et al.,1997). Schaufeli and
Enzmann (1998) report the findings of several studies that indicate deadlines and time
pressures to be major factors leading to burnout. Research suggests that the optimal

Review of Researches                                                              2.10
working time for executives is between 35 and 45 hours per week (Cooper &
Sutherland, 1992). The psychological problems are further exacerbated in employees
engaged in shift work.
Role Efficacy and Other Role Factors
Pareek (1987) defines a role as ‘the position one occupies in a social system, as
defined by the functions he/she performs in response to the expectations of the
significant members of the social system, and his/her own expectations from that
office or position’, and role efficacy as ‘the potential effectiveness of an individual
occupying a particular role in an organization’. The instrument developed to assess
role efficacy measures an individual’s response to ten aspects of a role: centrality
(perception of importance or significance of one’s role in the organization),
integration (integration of one’s role and self), proactivity (initiative orientation),
creativity (perception of doing something new as part of one’s role), inter-role linkage
(perception of interaction and interdependence with other roles), helping relationship
(perception of giving and receiving help), super-ordination (perception of one’s
contribution to a larger entity which is more than the organization), influence (ability
to exercise influence in a certain role), personal growth (perceiving the role as
facilitating growth, learning and development) and confrontation (attempt at
confronting problems and solving them). Greater the presence of these ten dimensions
in a role, higher would be the perception of efficacy and lower would be the stress
experienced. These ten aspects are scored on three composite dimensions of Role
Making Behavior which involves the self-role integration as experienced by the
individual along with proactivity and creativity, Role Centering which includes
centrality, influence and personal growth, and Role Linking which includes inter-role
linkages, helping relationships and super ordination (Pareek, 1987).
In a study exploring the relation between role efficacy and burnout in a sample of 50
professors from IIT-Bombay and another 50 professors from the University of
Bombay, higher burnout and lower role efficacy was found in the sample from
University of Bombay while the opposite was true for the professors from IIT-
Bombay, who showed higher role efficacy, lower level of burnout and more social
support (Kumar, Illa and Kotwal, 2000). Similarly, a study of 50 airhostesses (mean
age 28.5 years) using Pareek’s Role Efficacy Scale and Maslach Burnout Inventory
found no significant relation between job burnout and changes in age, experience and
other personal attributes. However, a significant negative relation was found between
role efficacy and burnout as in the earlier studies. Furthermore, a positive relation
emerged between role efficacy and personal accomplishment and a negative relation
between role efficacy and emotional exhaustion and depersonalization (Kumar and
Mandrekar, 2000).
Sharma (2002) in an attempt to ascertain the determinants of executive burnout used
Pareek’s O.R.S. and Maslach’s Burnout Inventory to collect data from 72 middle
level executives working in public, private and government organizations. The
relation between the ten role related stresses of inter-role distance, role stagnation,
role expectation, role erosion, role overload, role isolation, personal inadequacy, self-
role distance, role ambiguity and resource inadequacy, and the three dimensions of
burnout of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal
accomplishment was studied. From the analysis, only two factors, role overload and
self-role distance, emerged as critical determinants of burnout in Indian executives.

Review of Researches                                                                2.11
Two factors have been considered instrumental in preventing an employee from
fulfilling the demands of a role effectively and causing severe stress – role conflict
and role ambiguity. Role conflict is faced by the employee when he is expected to
meet conflicting demands, and role ambiguity refers to lack of information regarding
the goals to be accomplished and tasks to be performed, and both these factors have a
moderate to high correlation with the different dimensions of job burnout (cf Cordes
& Dougherty, 1993; Maslach, Schaufeli & Leiter, 2001).
Role Conflict
Role conflict arises when one is expected to work for incompatible goals, which in the
management setting could be in the form of demands to achieve very high production
targets, and yet maintaining product quality without compromising safety standards.
The basic types of role conflict are intra sender conflict when there are different
incompatible demands from the same superior, inter sender conflict when there are
different incompatible demands from the different people leaving scope only for
pleasing one at the cost of the other, inter role conflict when the demands of different
roles of the same person cannot be reconciled, and person-role conflict when
expectations of the person do not match with that of the organization (Buunk et al.,
1998). Role conflict has been found to cause absenteeism, job dissatisfaction,
hypertension and even burnout. The adverse effects of role conflict are pronounced in
people who have the personality trait of rigidity.
High role conflict is prevalent in roles that exist at the boundary between departments
of the organization or between the organization and the external world. Therefore,
managers who often perform boundary-spanning functions, such as putting into action
the policy demands of the senior management even while knowing the possible
negative effect on the subordinates, are particularly prone to role conflict and its
consequences (Sutherland & Cooper, 2000). People in market-oriented boundary-
spanning positions such as those in sales and customer service are highly vulnerable
to burnout as they face role conflict due to the often incompatible demands of the
organization and the customers (Singh & Goolsby, 1994). This has also been found to
be true of even experienced product managers who have to communicate across
organizational and environmental boundaries (Lysonski, Singer & Wilemon, 1988)
and employees torn between the competing demands of different work groups
including management, coworkers and customers (Harris & Lee, 2004), all of whom
end up suffering burnout as a result of role conflict.
Role Ambiguity
Role ambiguity refers to the absence of clarity about one’s role. The ambiguity arises
because of lack of information about the scope of one’s responsibilities, i.e. what
exactly one is supposed to do and achieve in that position, about how one is supposed
go about fulfilling the responsibilities of the role, and absence of clarity about the
behaviors that would be rewarded or punished. An employee can face role ambiguity
when first inducted into a position or when changes are introduced in the
organizational structure and processes (Ivancevich & Matteson, 1980). The stress
arising due to role ambiguity leads to job dissatisfaction, low self confidence and self-
esteem, depression and hypertension (Sutherland & Cooper, 2000). Kahn (1973)
delineated two temporal elements of role ambiguity that could assist in addressing the
issues of resultant stress and burnout – ‘present ambiguity’ and ‘future prospects of
ambiguity’. Role ambiguity has been dealt with here refers to ‘present ambiguity’,

Review of Researches                                                                2.12
whereas ‘future prospects of ambiguity’ is subsumed under career development stress
(Cooper & Marshall, 1978).
Both role conflict and role ambiguity have been implicated in the etiology of job
dissatisfaction across occupations (Sell, Brief & Schuler, 1981) and psychological
illness in public sector employees (Terry, Neilson & Perchard, 1993). Studies have
also shown that both these role problems can lead to emotional exhaustion and
burnout (Burke & Greenglass, 1995; Lee & Ashforth, 1993; Manlove, 1994). Though
the study by Brookings et al. (1985) among female human service professionals
suggests that both role conflict and role ambiguity have statistically significant
relationships with all the dimensions of burnout, later studies have shown differential
effects of the two factors. A study of a sample of teachers reported that role conflict
has a significant relation with emotional exhaustion but not with depersonalization or
personal accomplishment, whereas role ambiguity has a significant relationship with
personal accomplishment (Jackson, Schwab & Schuler, 1986). Later it was reported
by a team led by the same researcher that role conflict was significantly related to
both emotional exhaustion and depersonalization in a study conducted on a sample of
public service lawyers (Jackson, Turner & Brief, 1987). More recently, Piero et al.
(2001) explored whether role stress predicted burnout over time in a sample of 145
health care professionals (mean age 36 years) in Spain. The results showed that while
all the three role stress variables - role conflict, role ambiguity and role overload -
successfully predict the occurrence of emotional exhaustion over time, in the case of
depersonalization, it is role conflict and role overload that have predictive value.
Furthermore, it was observed that role ambiguity predicts personal accomplishment
over time.
Several studies suggest that it is especially role ambiguity that leads to burnout
(Schaufeli & Buunk, 1996). This possibility is also borne out by the findings that role
conflict is mainly related to irritation but role ambiguity is mainly related to anxiety
(Dijkhuizen, 1980), and that role ambiguity, rather than role conflict, is a better
predictor of job dissatisfaction and anxiety (Keenan & Newton, 1984). The latter
finding is implied in the findings of a study that attempted to explore the relationship
of the role ambiguity and role conflict stresses to job performance. The results
revealed the existence of a negative relation between role ambiguity and job
performance though this was moderated by job type and rating source, but no
significant relation could be found between role conflict and job performance (Tubre
& Collins, 1985).
Career Development Stress
The stressors involved in developing and maintaining a career are found to be those
related to job insecurity and status incongruity. Job insecurity does not refer only to
the danger of actual unemployment in the immediate future but also includes the fear
of becoming obsolete and redundant, which has a strong influence on the employee’s
self-esteem. Status incongruity results when there is no career progression along
expected lines and the employee has reached his career ceiling. (Cooper & Marshall,
1978). Though career progression occurs rapidly during the early phase, career
plateauing becomes prevalent at middle management levels where the life-stage
aspects of middle-age also come into picture to create added stress. The feeling of
stagnation and the accompanying negative perceptions in mid-career leads to feelings
of resentment and depression (Buunk et al, 1998). An employee may be
organizationally plateaued in spite of being talented because of lack of further

Review of Researches                                                               2.13
avenues for promotion within the organization or because the senior management is
not sure of his skills; an employee is personally plateaued when he does not wish to
be promoted or when he is side-tracked because he is organizationally naïve
(Appelbaum, 1994).
A study of navy personnel found that the lack of ‘status congruence’ or the matching
of one’s abilities with the position and responsibilities in an organization is strongly
related to the incidence of psychiatric disorders (Erikson, Edwards & Gunderson,
1973). Even over-promotion can be a source of psychological problems as it leads to
‘executive neurosis’. The over-promoted executive ends up overworking to hide his
insecurity (McMurray, 1973) and this makes him susceptible to burnout. The
problems of career progression faced by technical people, many of whom become
managers eventually, has also been studied. People in technical or engineering
positions have only two options midway through their career – either they could
continue in the technical field of their expertise where avenues for further promotion
are negligible, or they could get into managerial positions. For engineers, the mid-
career option of management adds to prestige but also brings in its own set of stresses.
The underutilization and further erosion of their technical skills in moving away from
technical to management positions, and the inherent uncertainties involved in
managing people (unlike managing machines) can be a major source of stress for
technical people promoted to managerial cadre and it may lead to burnout (Hoyt &
Gerloff, 1999).
Organizational Structure, Culture and Climate
The very fact of ‘being in the organization’ implies that the employee would have to
adapt to and adopt the norms, goals and operating rules of the organization. The
values implicit in the organizational structures and processes shape the emotional and
cognitive relationship of employees with their work and workplace (Maslach,
Schaufeli & Leiter, 2001). Any major mismatch between the objectives and values of
the individual and the organization would lead to a sense of not belonging and is a
source of stress and burnout. In a study conducted across eight organizations (Schmitt,
Colligan & Fitzerald, 1980) to study the causative factors in the mass occurrence of
stress symptoms showed the relatively much greater significance and consistency of
the relationship between organizational factors and symptoms. This connection
between organizational phenomena and organization-wide individual stress validates
the concept of a ‘sick organization’, and highlights the significance of organizational
structure, culture and climate. Just as an organization can impact its employees
because of its unique structure, culture and climate, even within a single organization,
the different subunits responsible for different functions can have different structures
and subcultures due to which the employees in different departments of the same
organization experience and react to stress differently. This differential impact of
organizational subsystems and subculture on the type and magnitude of reported
stressors was found to be true in a study of the production, production-supportive,
maintenance, adaptive, and managerial subsystems of a medium-sized food-
processing firm (Parasuraman & Alutto, 1981).
Stress can arise both in the initials stages when the employee is a new recruit and is in
the process of being socialized into the organizational culture, and also when there are
organizational changes which inevitably affect the culture and climate.
Organizational culture is a cluster of meanings related to norms, roles, plans, ideals,
and ideas that are created within the organization and are used by members to make a

Review of Researches                                                                2.14
coherent sense of their organizational experiences (Feldman, 1988). The
organizational culture determines the attitudes of the employee towards his
organization, work and coworkers. Though the culture of an organization is
influenced by the social and national culture within which it is embedded, its
immediate determinant is the organizational structure. Organizational structure refers
to the formal properties of the organization that determine such things as departmental
and individual hierarchy, role structure and power structure. The design of the
organizational structure is defined by the nature of the original objectives of the
organization. Unlike the concept of organizational culture which is too broad, the term
work climate has a sense of immediacy and proximity in its connotation and is
described by the perceptions of employees on the dimensions of control, latitude,
structuring, rewards, consideration and support (Victor & Cullen, 1988). Thus,
organizational structure influences organizational culture, which in turn determines
the work climate, and this decides what is experienced as stress by the employee and
how he copes with it.
The same type of stressors can have different outcomes, and whether or not they lead
to burnout would depend on the organizational structure (Winnubst, 1993). The effect
of the structure on burnout comes out clearly if two ideal types of organizational
structures proposed by Mintzberg (1979), the machine bureaucracy and the
professional bureaucracy, are considered. The features characterizing one of these
ideal types would be dominant in any typical organization. A manufacturing unit like
an automobile would be an example of machine bureaucracy, whereas professional
bureaucracy would be found in an accounting firm. The machine bureaucracy has a
technostructure characterized by extreme formalization and standardization of work
processes with limited scope for horizontal decentralization. Such extreme form of
control with no latitude creates a culture of conformism which stifles innovations.
While there is always the risk of work under load and apathy, it is the draining nature
of the monotonous work that leads to burnout. A professional bureaucracy has an
operating core of performers who are expected to possess a standardized set of skills.
But there is little formalization or standardization of work processes, and there is both
horizontal and vertical decentralization. But this very structure that promotes a culture
of autonomy conducive to creativity may cause burnout through overload and
interpersonal conflict due to the ambiguity inherent in not having standardized labour
processes or well-defined role boundaries. The repetitive and hierarchical aspects of
the machine bureaucracy promote obsessive-compulsive tendencies which might
provoke burnout, whereas, the ill-defined open structure of a professional bureaucracy
promotes neurotic tendencies which might lead to burnout (Winnubst, 1993).
Winnubst (1993) uses the above typology to highlight the difference between the
burnout in blue collar workers and white collar workers. Though the symptoms of
burnout are the same for both the groups, the causative factors are different. Burnout
among blue collar occupations, which are more likely to have a machine bureaucracy,
is a consequence of emotional estrangement caused by impersonal work low on
control and high on monotony in combination with limited personal contacts and
social support. The professional bureaucracy typical of white collar managerial work
leads to burnout because of stresses arising from the boundary spanning functions and
resultant role problems and interpersonal conflicts.
A research conducted to study the influence of corporate culture and the underlying
organizational structure on burnout using the Maslach Burnout Inventory and Rensis
Likert’s Profile of Organizational Characteristics (POC) showed the strong relation

Review of Researches                                                                2.15
between autocratic management styles and employee burnout. The POC includes
items on leadership, communication, interaction and influence, decision making, goal
setting, and control, and the composite score indicates the type of the organization in
question, i.e. whether it is exploitative-authoritative, benevolent-authoritative,
consultative or participative. The results of the study reported the correlation of high
emotional exhaustion and depersonalization with low POC scores (highly autocratic
organizations), and high personal accomplishment scores with high POC scores
(highly participative organizations). Hence, less burnout is seen in organizations with
supportive managerial relationships, group decision making and organization-wide
goals (Vallen, 1993). Kahn & Byosiere (1992) report of a Belgian longitudinal study
conducted over a period of 10 years to compare the incidence of coronary heart
disease among male clerks working in private and semipublic banks found a 50 per
cent higher incidence in the private sector. Though this study is taken as signifying
the importance of organizational factors, self-selection in terms of who joins the
public sector and who joins the private sector is also postulated as a significant factor.
Studies conducted to look at the role of organizational size in generating stress have
not come up with conclusive and consistent evidence of the link between the two,
though the assumption has been that greater formalization and bureaucratization in
larger organizations would lead to greater stress (Kahn & Byosiere, 1992). Sutton and
D’Aunno (1989) suggest that it is the reduction in organizational size that is perceived
as a source of threat and generates anxiety.
Autonomy and Control
The power that an employee has to influence his own work activities, either in terms
of timing or in terms of methods or both, so as to fulfill the super-ordinate objectives
of the organization is referred to as control at work (Frese, 1989; Jackson et al., 1993).
Lack of control of one’s situation is both a causative and aggravating factor in
burnout. The causal role of control was shown in an experimental study where it was
found that the same level of noise caused more stress when there was no option of
switching it off than when there was a choice to do so, even if that choice was not
made use of and the noise not turned down (Glass, Reim & Singer, 1971). Several
studies have established the association between lack of control or autonomy and
cardiovascular diseases, anxiety, depression and emotional exhaustion (Ellis & Miller,
1993; Ganster & Fusilier, 1989; Schaufeli & Buunk, 1996).
Several studies have explored the relation between job control and burnout and have
found an association between the two, but these findings show some variations which
are of practical significance. Rafferty et al. (2001) point out in their review of these
studies that though there is a consensus that job demands or workload is a stronger
predictor of burnout than control is, and that the effect of job demands on burnout
cannot be moderated through higher control, the findings about the association
between control and the dimensions of burnout differ according to the way control has
been defined. There have been varied conceptualizations of control – it has been seen
as decision authority referring to the power the employees have to make decisions
about their work, or as skill discretion referring to the ability and freedom of the
worker to use a range of skills to perform his task, or as decision latitude which
includes both decision authority and skill discretion. When control is defined as
decision latitude, higher control is significantly associated with emotional exhaustion
and lower control is associated with depersonalization and reduced accomplishment
dimensions of burnout. The findings were inconsistent when control referred to just

Review of Researches                                                                 2.16
decision authority or skill discretion. The study (Rafferty, Friend & Landsbergis,
2001) that recognized the presence of these different aspects of control reported that
skill discretion is more strongly related to burnout than is decision authority. There is
greater emotional exhaustion and depersonalization among employees with lower
skill discretion but not in those with lower decision authority, whereas reduced
personal accomplishment is reported with both low skill discretion and low decision
authority. In an Indian study (Tewari, 1995) undertaken to investigate the relation
between the control dimension of organizational climate and the three components of
burnout on a sample of 200 respondents, half of them working in nationalized banks
and the other half in scheduled banks, no significant relation was found between total
amount of control and burnout. However, significantly higher levels of emotional
exhaustion and lower feeling of personal accomplishment was observed in the
employees of scheduled banks as compared to the nationalized bank employees, while
higher scores on depersonalization were seen in the latter.
Appraisal and Reward Systems
Burnout is also associated with the extent to which performance and
rewards/punishments are linked in an organization; there is a higher possibility of
burnout when contingent rewards are absent and non-contingent punishment is
present (Cordes & Dougherty, 1993). The relative importance of performance and
extraneous factors is implied in the formal appraisal and reward systems instituted
within an organization and how they are perceived by the employees. Performance
appraisals are also instruments of employee control as they are used to determine
individual merit and to reward or punish, thus providing direction to workplace
activities. The appraisal and reward system is a key determinant of the employee’s
attitude towards his organization and his work. The systems should be seen as
incorporating procedural justice (appraisal systems should be transparent and fair) and
distributive justice (appropriate, adequate and fair differentials in rewards). Gabris &
Ihrke (2001) found in their study of professional county government employees that if
employees feel that there is lack of procedural and distributive justice in the appraisal
and reward systems, there is a higher level of burnout. This negative correlation
between procedural and distributive justice perceived in the appraisal and reward
systems and emotional exhaustion was confirmed in a study conducted in an
Australian public sector research organization (Michelle & Johnson, 2003).
Organizational Change
Organizational change is stressful because of the upheaval and uncertainty it creates at
all levels and in all aspects of organizational life. All the factors that have been
regarded as sources of stress and burnout become particularly active during the period
of change. Organizational changes such as privatization, restructuring, rationalization,
downsizing and mergers that are introduced to improve efficiency and productivity
invariably lead to perception of a change in the psychological contract between the
employee and the organization. The psychological contract refers to an employee's
beliefs regarding the mutual obligations between the employee and the employer
(Rousseau, 1989; Rousseau & Tijoriwala, 1998). The perception of violation of the
assumed psychological contract leads to an erosion of the implied reciprocity and
leads to burnout (Maslach, Schaufeli & Leiter, 2001). Attempts to rationalize and cut
down the workforce can lead to anxiety and stress not only in those who feel their
jobs are insecure; even those who survive downsizing face stress due to a change in
the nature of their original job, increased workload, role confusion in the time of

Review of Researches                                                                2.17
organizational flux, the narrowing down of avenues for promotion and consequent
career plateauing. Even attempts to introduce a participative work climate through
empowerment of the employees are resisted because they are used to a dependency
culture. Though high control has been shown to be a stressor for employees, even
such well-meaning attempts as handing over control to them can become a greater
source of stress if done too fast without addressing the issues of learned helplessness,
lack of self-efficacy, low-confidence, and poor self-esteem that are characteristic of
the dependency culture in which the employees have been socialized (Sutherland &
Cooper, 2000). In the context of the present socio-political environment,
organizational change in the public sector also implies changes in the overarching
goals, from a welfare and security oriented approach to a managerial approach driven
by profits and efficiency, and this adds a new dimension to the stress experienced by
the employees (McHugh & Brennan, 1994).
Social Support
The significance of social networks in an individual’s life cannot be disregarded given
the basic fact that man is essentially a social animal. Most often, we define our life in
the context of our relations with other people, and even our work life is not bereft of
these very essential relations – it is these relations that form the core of social support.
Social support has been defined as the information that leads individuals to believe
that they are cared for and loved, esteemed and valued by others, and that they
participate in a network of communication and mutual obligation (Cobb, 1996), or
more succinctly as ‘the resources provided by other persons’ (Cohen & Syme, 1985).
Pines and Aronson (1988) in their research work over many years have documented
the preventive role that social support plays in relation to burnout across all domains.
They list the following roles/ functions of a social support system:
•   Listening: To provide adequate, nonjudgmental space through the process of
    active listening to facilitate venting out of feelings and letting off steam.
•   Technical Appreciation: This role is ably played by a competent and trustworthy
    supervisor, who by providing honest appreciation and affirmation along with
    feedback to the employee acknowledges the contribution made by the employee,
    thus, fulfilling his need to be recognized and appreciated for his efforts.
•   Technical Challenge: It is important that one does work which is not only
    stimulating but is also full of new possibilities and challenges whereby one learns
    and grows. The lack of new challenges over a period of time can breed stagnation,
    which in the long run often leads to burnout. This role of encouragement to make
    optimum utilization of one’s resources, of pushing one to attain greater heights
    can be fulfilled by a critical yet trustworthy and competent colleague.
•   Emotional Support: It is good to have friends, family or colleagues one can fall
    back on when embroiled in a difficult situation. This need not mean that the
    emotional supporter agrees with or espouses what the person is doing at that point
    in time, but that he would be there to provide emotional support to the person
    whatever his own views maybe.
•   Emotional Challenge: When one is caught up in a stressful situation often the
    logical solution eludes us. Therefore, it is suggested that at this point of time, a
    friend or a colleague can act as an ‘emotional challenger’ who can not only
    provide a rational assessment and a better perspective of the stressful situation, but

Review of Researches                                                                   2.18
    also point out the shortcomings in the individual’s own efforts and encourage him
    to try harder.
•   Social Reality Testing and Sharing: Social Reality is a human construct in which
    another individual can provide the comfort and space for the existence of one’s
    values and beliefs through validation and reaffirmation of an individual’s
    worldview, perceptions, and beliefs. Often, this person who shares one’s
    perceptions is in a good position to give sound advice to help resolve the
Looking at social support in an occupational context, Cherniss (1980) posits that
supervisors often play a critical role by providing the subordinate with technical
assistance, information, and feedback, and also by serving as a buffer and advocate
along with being responsive to the subordinate’s emotional needs. Extending this role
of providing support to the colleagues, Cherniss suggests that colleagues can fulfill a
multitude of functions ranging from providing space for a cathartic experience to
providing technical information, practical advice, feedback and a frame of reference,
to forming a shared ‘united front’ at times of conflict. There can be many factors
which may interfere with the possibility of one getting adequate social support at
work. These barriers can be differences in personal ideology and value systems, and
inequity and ambiguity in distribution of resources, status and power. All this results
in the development of unhealthy competition, mistrust and conflict, and can lead to
From the foregoing discussion, it follows that different elements of social support can
be delineated to understand its role in burnout. First, it can be conceptualized
differently, both as perceived available social support, which has a preventive
function, and as actually received social support, which has a curative function
(Buunk et al., 1998). Perceivable available support refers to the individual’s belief in
the existence of sources of support which he can rely on when faced with a stress, and
this belief in potential support itself is enough to mitigate the effects of stress. The
influence of actually received support would come into play when an individual is
actually facing a stressful situation or is in the throes of burning out. Further, social
support can vary according to its content. It can be instrumental social support in the
form of direct help provided by supervisors and colleagues, informational social
support provided in the form of suggestions, directions and feedback, and emotional
social support provided to manage negative feelings and reduce anxiety (Buunk et al.
1998). The form of social support available in an organization is determined by its
organizational structure and climate. Social support in a machine bureaucracy would
be essentially instrumental in nature, whereas in a professional bureaucracy it would
be more of informational and emotional social support (Winnubst, 1993).
The effects of social support on burnout can be at two levels – the direct effects on
experienced stress and burnout, and the buffering effects between the stressor and the
resultant pathology and burnout. There is substantial support for both these effects
and these differential effects can be used in devising appropriate support strategies. In
a longitudinal study conducted on 90 male blue collared workers in a metal industry
in Germany by Frese (1999), social support was found to exert a strong moderator
effect in the relation between stressors and psychological dysfunctions such as
psychosomatic complaints, depression and social anxiety. In another three-wave
longitudinal study (Dormann & Dieter, 1999), the moderating effect of social support
(supervisors and colleagues) between social stressors at work and depression was

Review of Researches                                                                2.19
tested in a sample of 543 (16-63 years) individuals taken from former East Germany.
While colleague support was not found to have a significant moderating effect,
supervisory support did have a strong moderating effect but only if the time-lag was 8
months, neither more nor less. This positive effect of social support on depression was
reported in a Japanese study of 663 intermediate managers working in a
manufacturing company. The effect of both social support and individual coping
styles on depression was explored in this study. While a direct effect of social support
was found on depression, an indirect effect of coping styles was found on an
individual’s perception of social support as well as job demand and control. The
coping style that the person used also had a strong effect on depression - emotion-
oriented coping style had a negative effect whereas task-oriented and avoidance-
oriented coping styles had a positive effect. On the whole, the kind of coping style an
individual had, had more of an impact on his well being than social support (Kitaoka-
Higashiguchi et al., 2003). This highlights the role played by individual differences in
moderating the relation between stress and social support.
The direct effects of social support on burnout were studied extensively by Leiter
(1988, 1990, 1991). The results indicated that whereas social support from family
reduces emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, it is support within the
organization that reduces depersonalization and the feeling of diminished personal
accomplishment. Further, it was found that co-worker social support reduces
depersonalization and enhances personal accomplishment, but supervisor support was
not significantly associated with any of the dimensions of burnout. As opposed to the
latter finding, Golembiewski et al. (1986) had proposed in their model of burnout that
social support provided by supervisors would be related to burnout in the
subordinates. This is implied in the finding that employees in a task group having the
same supervisor tend to report the similar levels of burnout (Rountree, 1984), and it
has been validated in studies that found that the greater the consideration shown by
the supervisor, the lesser is the burnout reported by subordinates (Duxbury et al.,
1984) and lower is the depersonalization (Herman, 1983). Recent studies underline
the importance of all kinds of social support and it has been found that the presence of
social support both within and outside the organization leads to lower levels of
burnout particularly in employees performing boundary spanning functions (Sand &
Miyazaki, 2000). A study of 245 bank employees and 362 teachers found that lack of
social support is a significant and primary predictor of the emotional exhaustion
dimension of burnout across both the samples confirming the assertion that this
relationship between social support and burnout is same across all occupational
domains (Houkes et al., 2001).
One of the findings of Leiter’s studies was that professional support has both
beneficial and detrimental effects – it can both alleviate and aggravate burnout (1988).
An experiment was conducted in a simulated work environment to test whether stress
acted as an intervening variable between work overload and performance, and
whether social support was a mediator in this relation between workload and stress,
the expectation being that in the presence of high social support, workload would lead
to lower stress. The results were consistent with expectations as far as the first
hypothesis was concerned, but as for the second hypothesis, a reverse buffering effect
emerged. It was found that higher the support, greater was the stress experienced in
the early stages, though in the later stages the buffering effect of social support did
emerge (Glaser et al., 1999). The presence of the reverse buffering effect of
supervisory support was supported in a study carried out on 213 employees engaged

Review of Researches                                                               2.20
in managerial and professional/technical positions. Kickul & Posig (2001), while
investigating the interaction effect of supervisory emotional support, role conflict and
time pressure on the emotional exhaustion of the employees, found that employees
experienced higher emotional exhaustion when they perceived high supervisory
support in the face of additional role conflict. A study of employees in the nursing
profession showed that high level of social support is associated with greater job
dissatisfaction and burnout, and it is at moderate levels of social support that the
burnout is at its minimum (Jonge & Schaufeli, 1998). This counteractive effect of
social support arises only in the case of support for work-stress, but not for stress
related to personal matters, as it threatens the employee’s self-esteem. As a result, an
employee who is in the process of burning-out would withdraw from all supportive
interactions even if he feels the strong need for affiliation (Buunk & Schaufeli, 1993).
Social support can also aggravate stress when all the members of the group hold
negative views of the situation as it would reinforce the negative appraisal of the
stressful condition (Buunk et al., 1998).
Ray and Miller (1994) investigated the role played by both intra-organizational and
extra-organizational sources of support like family, colleagues and supervisor in
buffering stress and burnout in female nursing staff. They tested the direct as well as
the buffer effects of different sources of support on burnout. One of their findings was
that significantly higher levels of stress were seen those who were living with a
significant other as compared to their single, married or divorced counterparts.
Secondly, it was observed that higher levels of family support were found to lead to
higher levels of burnout. Also, contrary to expectation, they found a positive relation
between coworker support and burnout, evident in the higher levels of emotional
exhaustion. This was explained on the basis of the ‘reverse buffering effect’ as well as
the depletion of resources and possible stress experienced in maintaining and
nourishing these relations. The support from either family or coworkers could be
ineffective as they are not in a position to actually change the work scenario that is
causing stress. However, the sources of support such as supervisors and
administrators, who have the requisite position to implement change, have a direct
impact, thereby reducing burnout in the employees. However, a more recent study
conducted on 211 traffic enforcement agents (92 men, 119 women), found that high
amounts of family support was associated with lower levels of burnout. The
researchers also found that supervisory support had a closer relation with increased
job satisfaction and productivity but not with burnout (Baruch-Feldman et al., 2002).
The possible reason for this difference in the two findings could have been gender
There are gender differences in the influence of social support as a moderator between
sources of occupational stress and their outcomes. An Australian study carried out on
204 managers (55% female) showed that though energy levels, job satisfaction,
organizational security and organizational commitment were some of the outcomes of
stress moderated by social support, there were differences across males and females.
In males, social support interacted with different stressors to have a significant
interaction effect on organizational commitment, while for females; this interaction
effect was reportedly on their state of mind. Additionally, the study suggested that
while designing interventions it has to be kept in mind that social support will not
mitigate the effect of stress on all outcomes (Bellman et al., 2003). Such gender
differences have been reported in the development of burnout as well. In a Dutch
study conducted among 403 female and 664 male academic staff, it was found that

Review of Researches                                                               2.21
support from the supervisor and colleagues reduced emotional exhaustion and
dissatisfaction in both males and females. But a supportive departmental climate and
practical assistance in the department reduced dissatisfaction and emotional
exhaustion more in females than in males. It was also found that socio-emotional
support and practical assistance of the husband does not help reduce either
dissatisfaction or burnout among females, a finding which seems counter-intuitive
(Emmerik, 2002). These studies confirm Roxburgh’s (1999) finding that for women
non-work social support is more beneficial, whereas for men work-related social
support is more important.
To conclude, while some studies do reveal the ‘reverse buffering effect’ of social
support on an individual’s stress levels, there are other studies which show conclusive
evidence testifying to the beneficial effects of social support, whether from the
supervisors, coworkers or the family members, in reducing the incidence of stress
related psychological dysfunctions and burnout. The ideal organizational climate
should have the right blend of openness and supportiveness that would inspire trust,
faith and confidence among employees so that in the face of unmanageable demands
at work, an employee need not feel overwhelmed and stressed out. One should be able
to share his burden and find a solution to his problems, thereby preventing the
downhill slide to burnout.

Stress has been found to have debilitating consequences on both the psyche and the
soma, and burnout is often seen as a failure of a person’s ability to effectively adjust
to the environment. As stress persists over time and the person is unable to cope with
it, there is deterioration of cognitive capacities along with susceptibility to psychiatric
disorders and physical afflictions such as hypertension and cardiovascular disorders
(Carruthers, 1980) which can be even fatal, giving credence to the saying ‘working
oneself to death’. While the symptoms of burnout can manifest in a wide-ranging, all-
pervasive manner in the form of lowered self-esteem, poor teamwork, nastiness,
dependency behavior and eventual breakdown, the course of burnout would to a large
extent depend on the individual’s ability to cope. At the organizational level,
dysfunctional behavior patterns resulting from burnout include absenteeism, sabotage,
malpractice, noncompliance, falling short of deadlines, over sensitiveness,
interpersonal and group conflicts, hopelessness, secretiveness, backstabbing, lowered
productivity, confusion about goals, and lack of team work (Sharma, 2002).
Personal Consequences
This section covers some of the studies conducted over the last few years to highlight
the physical and mental consequences of stress. While some studies show the linkage
between psychiatric morbidity and job stress/burnout, others show the patho-
physiological changes that take place due to stress and burnout.
Psychological Disorders
    Though there is no separate DSM IV category of a burnout disorder at present, it
    does include clinical disorders like acute stress disorder, post-traumatic disorder,
    adjustment disorders and anxiety disorders are affected to a large extent by stress
    induced due to psychosocial and environmental problems. In fact, Reich (2002)
    postulates the possibility of the existence of a stress-induced personality disorder

Review of Researches                                                                  2.22
    on the basis of his research studies. He stresses the need to have a re-look at the
    existing standards of diagnostic categorization which do not allow for the
    existence of a stress-induced personality disorder, when in fact, this is possibly a
    clinically relevant subgroup.
    Several studies have investigated the relationship between stress in the work place
    and psychological disorders. Tennant (2001) suggests that specific acute work
    related stressful experiences contribute to the occurrence of depression and while
    the enduring structural occupational factors contribute to the occurrence of other
    psychological disorders. This has significant implications not just for the
    employees and their families, but also for the employers and the community at
    large. Pflanz’s (1999) research in the military settings has also highlighted the
    issue of emotional distress faced by individuals due to occupational stress. Grassi
    & Magnani (2000) conducted a study on 182 primary care and 146 hospital
    physicians in Italy using the Maslach Burnout Inventory and the General Health
    Questionnaire in order to investigate the relationship between burnout and
    psychiatric morbidity. More than one-fifth of the sample showed a global
    prevalence of psychiatric morbidity, with more than one-fourth reporting signs of
    emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, while one-tenth showed low personal
    accomplishment. In another study conducted in a sample of 160 primary and
    secondary school teachers (Cropley & Joekes, 1999), the relationship between job
    strain and psychiatric morbidity was assessed in terms of the prevalence of
    neurotic disorder in high job strain and low job strain. The results showed a
    greater psychiatric morbidity along with higher prevalence of severe anxiety,
    worry and fatigue symptoms in high job strain as compared to low job strain
    Depression, in its multidimensionality, is closely related to burnout, but many
    empirical researches suggest that burnout and depression are separate entities even
    though some of the qualitative characteristics might overlap in the more severe
    cases of burnout (Iacovides et al. 2003). In order to get a closer look at the
    debatable issue of the difference between depression and burnout, Brenninkmeyer,
    Yperen & Buunk (2001) undertook a study in Netherlands to explore the
    possibility of the symptomatology of depression and the components of burnout
    being differentially related to a third variable, the feelings of superiority. As per
    the expectation, it was seen that depressive symptoms would be experienced by
    those individuals who reported higher burnout and lower feelings of superiority.
    While a significant relation emerged between depression and superiority, this was
    not the case between the emotional exhaustion dimension of burnout and
    superiority. The authors concluded by affirming the close relation between the two
    themes of depression and burnout, though at the same time negating the
    possibility of seeing them as identical.
A study investigated the relation between depression and burnout viewing the latter as
a clinical entity marked by certain pathological stress reaction features, which in turn
are related to the individual’s inability to find pleasure from work. The authors used
the Maslach Burnout Scale, the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire and the Zung Self-
Rating Depression Scale to assess burnout, personality traits and depression
symptomatology in a sample from a general hospital in Greece. The authors were able
to find a weak but close relation between depression and burnout. Their findings
suggested the presence of two types of burnout syndromes, the first seen in the
majority of the nurses seemed to have little or no relation with burnout, while the

Review of Researches                                                                2.23
second type, much more severe in its symptomatology, seemed to share the etiological
mechanisms as well as had phenotypic similarity with depression. This was found in
those individuals who had a strong predisposition to develop burnout (Iacovides et al.,
In yet another study conducted in Greece, Tselebis, Moulou & Ilias (2001) explored
the relationship between burnout, depression and sense of coherence (SOC) using the
Maslach Burnout Inventory, Beck’s Depression Inventory and Sense of Coherence
questionnaire in 79 Greek nurses. Though a correlation was found to exist between
SOC, burnout and depression, a lower degree of correlation was reported between
depression and burnout. This relation between burnout and depression is contingent
upon the relation between SOC and depression implying that a person’s vulnerability
to depression and burnout would be largely determined by the degree of his SOC
Physiological Disorders
    Research studies have also been conducted to study the biological impact of stress
    and burnout. Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) was studied in relation to job stress
    in 292 working women with CHD and another 292 healthy working women who
    were part of the Stockholm Female Coronary Risk Study. The results showed a
    fourfold high age-adjusted risk for CHD for the lowest occupational class of
    semi/unskilled workers as compared to the highest class of
    executives/professionals. This heightened risk for CHD could be attributed to the
    multiple sources of work and non-work stress which the former face, which in
    turn involves mediation from behavioral and biological factors (Wamala et al.,
In a study exploring the relation between chronic burnout and somatic and
physiological hyper arousal in 111 non-shift blue-collar workers who were free of
cardiovascular disease, symptoms of chronic burnout were found in 37 workers while
52 showed no burnout symptoms and another 22 exhibited non-chronic burnout
symptoms. In comparison to the other two groups, the workers with chronic burnout
showed heightened somatic arousal and elevated salivary cortisol levels, increased
tension at work, post-work irritability, greater sleep disturbance and complaints of
waking up exhausted (Melamed et al., 1999).
Findings from the Helsinki Heart Study (Kalimo et al., 2000) conducted on 3079
middle-aged daytime workers and shift-workers testified to the existence of a direct
relation between job stressors and sleep disorders, and this relation was found to be
independent of the working hours and the lifestyle of the individuals. Highly
significant main effects of job demands and job control were documented on
insomnia, sleep deprivation and daytime fatigue in both the groups, the stressor-sleep
disorder relation being stronger among the daytime workers in comparison to the shift
Professional and Organizational Consequences
Gillespie et al. (2001) reported several negative professional consequences of
occupational stress that ultimately impact the performance of the organization. The
respondents in their study reported that high levels of stress affected their job
performance drastically. This reduced efficacy led to lower self-esteem, which started
a vicious cycle of further deterioration of job performance. The pressure of working

Review of Researches                                                              2.24
under stress affected the relationships at work both due to reduced availability of time
to interact and heightened interpersonal conflicts in the rush to perform. A related
consequence was withdrawal from work, which at first would be a psychological
withdrawal, later manifesting itself in the form of absenteeism, turnover intentions
(when the employee starts looking for a new job) and finally actual turnover
behaviour. Similar consequences have been reported in the case of burnout (Cordes &
Dougherty, 1993).
Reduced Job Performance
Research studies conducted across different occupations have shown that stress and
burnout has a negative impact on job performance. Among the three dimensions of
burnout, it is emotional exhaustion that results in the deterioration of performance,
whereas depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment have been found to
have no relation with performance (Parker & Kulik, 1995; Wright & Copranzano,
1999). Further, it has been found that there is a difference in the relations between
burnout and performance depending on how performance has been assessed – burnout
has a negative relation with subjective assessments of performance, but it has no
significant relation with objective assessments of performance (Shirom, 2003). But
Bakker, Demerouti & Verbeke (2004) have pointed out that such an absence of
relationship with objective performance is due to the use of global performance
ratings that do not distinguish between in-role and extra-role performances. In-role
performance refers to those actions of the employee that the organization expects him
to perform as a part of his job, whereas extra-role performance refers to the
discretionary actions of the employee, such as helping colleagues, which improve the
performance of the organization even if it does not increase his own productivity.
Bakker et al. make use of the findings that depersonalization and reduced
accomplishment have a significant negative relation with extra-role performance even
though the emotional exhaustion does not (Klein & Verbeke, 1999), and that burnout
makes an employee lose concern for others and the organization (Schaufeli &
Enzmann, 1998) to propose that employees cannot really change their in-role
performance even when they are facing burnout because of the organizational
sanctions but they withhold their extra-role performance which is within their control.
This explains the differences found when using objective and subjective assessments
of performance to study their link with burnout.
Fogarty et al. (2000) suggest in their study of burnout among accountants that burnout
leaves employees with little energy or motivation to perform, and further decline
occurs due to their inability to approach others for help. Unlike most studies which
propose a ‘direct effect’ of stressors on job outcomes, this study puts forth the idea
that it is burnout that is the key mediator between the stressors and job performance.
This idea emerged from their finding that role stressors have no significant relation
with job performance when burnout is not included. But when burnout is included, the
role stressors influence the process of burnout, which in turn has a significant
influence on job performance. This ‘beyond the role stress’ model implies that
managements ought to pay more attention to the emergence of burnout tendencies
within their organizations and evolve better coping strategies for their employees,
unlike the ‘direct effects’ models which required managers to focus on role stressors.

Review of Researches                                                               2.25
Reduced Organizational Commitment
The organizational commitment or the bond that an employee has with the
organization has three components – affective commitment arising from his emotional
attachment and identification with the organization, normative commitment due to his
acceptance of formal relationships and related obligations, and continuous
commitment arising from his awareness of the costs to the organization if he quits
(Allen & Meyer, 1990). Mathew & Zajac (1990) report in their meta-analysis that
high stress at work leads to lower organizational commitment. Leiter & Maslach
(1988) reported after conducting a study of nurses in a general hospital that high
burnout is related to diminished organizational commitment. Since burnout results in
the withdrawal of the employee from all contacts, it inevitably leads to reduced
commitment with the organization. This study found that though all the dimensions of
burnout are significant predictors of organizational commitment, the
depersonalization dimension does not directly influence the level of commitment as
the other two dimensions of exhaustion and depersonalization would. Similar findings
were reported in a study of public service lawyers (Jackson et al. 1987). Reduced
organizational commitment can also act as a mediating variable between burnout and
consequent job withdrawal and turnover (Jamal, 1984; Leiter & Maslach, 1988).
Absenteeism and Turnover
Though meta-analytic studies have confirmed that stress has a positive relation with
absence behaviour (Farrel & Stamm, 1988; Martocchio, Harrison & Berkson, 2000)
and turnover (Griffeth, Hom & Gaertner, 2000), there is more consistent evidence for
the relationship between stress and turnover than there is for absenteeism (Sonnentag
& Frese, 2003). In a study conducted by Firth and Britton (1989) to explore how
absenteeism and turnover are related to burnout, it was found that higher levels of
exhaustion were significantly related only to long periods of absence. They further
reported that though there was a moderate relation between the depersonalization
dimension of burnout and actual turnover, there was no such significant association
with the other two dimensions of burnout. Earlier studies conducted among the
employees of a government service agency (Maslach & Jackson, 1985) and teachers
(Jackson et al. 1986) had reported that all the components of burnout are associated
with the intent of quitting. The latter study also found a significant relation between
the emotional exhaustion and actual turnover among teachers. A more recent study
(Schaufeli & Bakker, 2004) conducted on employees working in four different
settings - an insurance company, a pension fund company, an occupational health and
safety service, and a home-care institution - confirmed the positive relation between
burnout and turnover intentions, and Goodman and Boss (2002) showed that the
burnout scores of employees who quit are significantly higher than those who do not.
A study (Huang, Chuang & Lin, 2003) was conducted on the civil servants working in
the Ministry of Finance of Taiwan to test the hypothesis that burnout mediates the
association between the perception of organizational politics and turnover intentions.
The results indicated that though both emotional exhaustion and cynicism
(depersonalization) lead to the intent to quit, it is exhaustion that is a much stronger
predictor of turnover. The explanation offered by the researchers for this difference is
that the employees in government service would not quit even if they became cynical
and indifferent towards their job because of job security; but since exhaustion is a
burnout dimension much stronger in its associated affect, an exhausted employee

Review of Researches                                                               2.26
might find his situation so unbearable that he would seriously consider the option of
quitting the job.
Organizational Burnout
Shirom (2003) in his review of job burnout has drawn attention to the fact that most
research on burnout has been done at the level of individual only. Even when the
organizational variables have been considered, research studies have restricted
themselves to their role only insofar as they impinge upon the individual. Similarly,
the consequences of burnout have been dealt with at the individual level of analysis.
Since it is individuals who make up the organization and group processes are always
at work, it is plausible to assume that processes paralleling those in individual burnout
occur even at the organizational level. The phenomenon of burnout contagion process
and the high incidence of burnout among the members within a task group or an
organizational subunit support such speculation. Shirom suggests that organizational
decline and downsizing may be regarded as being analogous to the chronic fatigue
stage of burnout. Just as inappropriate coping strategies adopted by an individual in
the face of excessive demands leads to his burnout, maladaptive strategies adopted by
an organization can have similar debilitating consequences which would be a threat to
its very survival. Such a systems approach that recognizes the dynamic
interconnectedness of the system and its elements has been used in exploring the
threat-rigidity effects in organizations (Staw, Sandelands & Dutton, 1981). This study
found parallels having practical implications in the responses to threats at the
individual, group and the organizational levels. A similar multilevel analysis of
individual burnout and organizational burnout could come up with findings that
would be of much greater managerial implications.

Over the last four decades studies documented on burnout have largely focused on
professions involving personal contact like nurses, teachers, doctors and police. All of
these stressful jobs are people professions, involving steady and regular interaction
with other people, often making heavy emotional demands which over time can be
very tiring and can induce different levels of stress and may lead to burnout.
Burnout has long been considered an inevitable nemesis awaiting those involved in
the human service or health care professions. Providing compassionate care to the
patients and those in need is the cornerstone of the caring professions, but
unfortunately, this primary purpose gets defeated when the professionals get caught in
the stress inducing atmosphere and go downhill ending up burnt out. In the process,
the attitude and commitment to work goes through different stages, starting from
compassion for the plight of others fuelled by the passion towards their work to utter
callousness and total exhaustion. Bombarded with ever increasing responsibilities and
demands with little time in which to complete them, the resultant pressure can lead to
a severe depletion of the individual’s resources, enthusiasm and idealism, and a
concomitant negative attitude of increased cynicism, anger, irritation, apathy and
overall diminished capacity for empathizing with the clients takes the place of earlier
Occupational stress is created by the work conditions in the work place. In this
chapter, a few studies specific to each profession are reviewed. Here an attempt is

Review of Researches                                                                2.27
made to bring together a wide array of researches undertaken across the world for
different professionals into the nature of stress and burnout to highlight the ubiquity
of the phenomenon.
Stress and Burnout in Managers
A number of studies on non service professions have been largely on stress; these
international studies have been reviewed for managers. Pines and Aronson (1988)
found in their many workshops with managers that almost for all the managers, the
most stressful aspects of their work corresponded very closely with their initial hopes
and expectations regarding their role, status, autonomy and the available resources
that had been frustrated. Going further, in their exploration of what drives the
managers in their work, they found that it is the desire to find the meaning of their life
in their work that motivates them. When their aspirations to attain a certain goal or to
simply get some work accomplished are thwarted due to political, administrative,
economic or any other reasons, and when this happens time and again, frustration
builds up and finally the manager succumbs to burnout. In a supportive environment
with such positive features as adequate resources, autonomy to make decisions and
recognition for accomplished work, the performance of managers peaks which further
fuels their motivation. While some of the studies, that follow, simply explore the
nature of stress experienced by managers, some are comparative studies across
countries, and still others examine the differences in the nature and causes of stress
experienced by managers in different sectors.
International Studies
Cooper and Worall (1995) reported the results of the West Midlands Business Survey
of the views, attitudes, impressions and expectations of 1040 respondents about the
nature and extent of stress of the most senior level of management in the company.
While 46.3 percent of the respondents belonged to the manufacturing sector, less than
10 percent were from the service industry (9.3 percent). The results of this survey
undertaken by Price Waterhouse and the Universities of Wolverhampton and
Warwick revealed that more than one-fourth (29 percent) felt that the work of their
senior managers was extremely stressful and 60 percent thought they were moderately
successful. Furthermore, 17 percent reported stress-related causes as the reason for the
senior executives taking time off from work. Competitive pressures, volume of work
and meeting performance targets together accounted for 81 percent of executive
stress, followed by other sources of stress such as relationships with colleagues,
domestic issues and other reasons for stress. An interesting finding of the survey was
that while in organizations employing between 200 and 999 employees, the problem
and intensity of stress was more severe, this pattern declined in firms employing more
than 1000 employees. Additionally, extreme stress was found to afflict the
proprietors/partners and the directors of an organization, and higher incidence of
extreme stress could be seen in organizations with a significant decline in their
In an Australian study (Sharpley and Gardner, 2001) exploring stress and its effects
among senior managers from large, successful organizations through semi structured
interviews, the managers unanimously testified to the damaging effects of stress on
employee health (100 percent). They looked at stress in terms of loss of control in
physical, emotional or behavioral domains (94 percent) and felt it led to reduced
productivity (89 percent). Stress was seen as a source of great concern to the

Review of Researches                                                                 2.28
organization and it was agreed that work related factors were responsible for half the
stress (80 percent), it being a reaction to events rather than the events themselves (55
percent). Despite this awareness of the detrimental effects of stress, most managers
did not attend stress intervention workshops for the fear of appearing weak or failing
to others within their own organization.
Lu, Tseng and Cooper (1999) investigated the sources of stress, level of job
satisfaction, health and the moderating effects of personality and the coping strategies
that were used in a sample of Taiwanese managers. The results revealed that
managers experienced high amounts of stress which could be a detrimental factor to
their mental and physical health. Additionally, though internal control was linked with
more job satisfaction, it left a negative impact on a person’s psychological well being
when it interacted with job stress. Furthermore, a link was also drawn between poor
physical health and Type A behavior.
Widerszal –Bazyl et al. (2000) conducted a study on stress on 269 managers working
in different organizations from the state, private and intermediate sectors in Poland.
The results yielded better psychological wellbeing in the managers of the private
sector organizations and this was related to their having greater economic
effectiveness. It was also found that economic sector can be used to predict certain
types of stresses since low organizational support and excessive workload along with
job satisfaction are associated with the sector the organization belongs to.
In a comparative study done on managers in the U.K and Taiwan by Lu, Kao, Cooper
and Spector (2000), the relationship between work pressure and strain, and the
moderating effects of coping and locus of control were investigated with the help of
Cooper’s Occupational Stress Indicator-2 (1988) and Spector’s Work Locus of
Control Scale (1988). It was seen that while for the Chinese managers, recognition
and managerial role could be seen as significant predictors of strain, for the U.K.
managers, however, it was relationships, organizational climate and personal
responsibility that were significant. Also, the mediating effects of internal locus of
control could be seen for Taiwanese managers. In another comparative study
(Spector, Cooper and Aguilar-Vafaie, 2002) between 207 Iranian and 120 U.S.
managers, sources of job pressure (constraints, managerial role/tasks, home/work, non
work support) and job strain (job dissatisfaction, mental strain, physical strain,
intention of quitting the job, absences) were assessed using the Occupational Stress
Indicator and the Work Locus of Control Scale. The Iranian managers were found to
have more of an external orientation and scored more on pressure and all the sources
of job strain. While higher inter correlations for strain, except for absence, could be
seen in the American managers, in the case of the Iranian managers they showed
higher correlations among sources of job pressure. Another disparity found was a
strong relation between marital status and job stressors and strains in the Iranian
managers, which was not the case for the American managers. Both sets of managers
were found to show a similar pattern of relation between pressure and job strains
along with a strong association between internal locus of control and low strain.
In a cross-cultural study on the interplay between gender, culture and work stress as
experienced by 822 managers from South Africa, U.K., U.S. and Taiwan, Miller et al.
(2000) could find little evidence for gender differences in work stress, and only
limited support could be garnered as for the interaction between gender and country
on work stress was concerned. But both similarities as well as differences across
genders could be found in an Australian study (Lindorff, 2000) that investigated the

Review of Researches                                                               2.29
relations between strain and perceived and received social support, and the effect of
gender on the effectiveness of support among managers. While for both the genders
lowered strain was associated with perceived support and receiving information, and
tangible assistance was not associated with strain, in the case of men receiving
emotional support was considered to cause more strain whereas it caused no such
strain among women managers. Also, received emotional support and received
tangible assistance was found to have a strong buffering effect on perceived support
for the male managers. In yet another study exploring gender differences in the nature
and experience of stress among Swedish managers, Lundberg (1999) reported a more
favorable picture for men. Although both men and women felt their work to be
sufficiently challenging and stimulating, higher norepinephrine levels were found in
women both during and after work, the levels being particularly high in women at
home if they had children. In women, greater stress was due to the added
responsibilities of home and their feeling that they had more unpaid workload than
their male counterparts.
Indian Studies
Pestonjee (1992) attempted to study the nature of the stress phenomenon. He posits
that stress originates primarily from three major spheres of one’s life, Firstly,
variables which are related to the job and the work environment like task related
factors, relations with colleagues etc. Secondly, factors relating to the social sphere of
the individual including one’s religion, caste, language and thirdly the intra psychic
variables inherent in the person like his value system, his abilities and health.
Pestonjee suggests that if the stress faced by an individual crosses the threshold level
of his Stress Tolerance Limit (STL), then the negative effect of stress is borne by the
individual with further increases in stress, in turn culminating into a disintegration of
Tripathy (2002) undertook a study to explore the Burnout Stress Syndrome in 118
Managers in the manufacturing industry. Various variables were studied in relation to
burnout such as the managerial level, age, gender, educational qualifications, marital
status, working hours per week, work experience, number of times leave taken for
outing, and optimism/pessimism. The original 22-item version of Maslach’s Burnout
Inventory was used to measure burnout. The results revealed that middle level
managers experienced the highest level of emotional exhaustion and
depersonalization aspects of burnout, while the frontline managers experienced the
highest level of burnout on the personal accomplishment dimension. The production
department managers were found to be the most burnt out on all the three burnout
dimensions. Employees between the ages of 41-50 years showed the highest
emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, while the most burnout as per their
personal accomplishment scores were those below 30 years of age, and the
individuals with a work experience of 21-30 years were found to show the maximum
burnout. On all the three subscales, the males showed higher scores than the females,
and the married more than their unmarried counterparts. Individuals who worked for
more than 72 hours a week showed the least burnout while those who worked
between 41-50 hours a week showed the highest incidence of burnout. Finally, those
characterized as optimists showed the least burnout while pessimists showed more
Pant and Bhardwaj (1992) conducted a study on executive stress male public sector
managers across the three - top, middle and first - managerial levels. They used the

Review of Researches                                                                 2.30
Episodic Work Related Stress Evaluation Questionnaire and the Chronic Work
Related Stress Evaluation Questionnaire by Adams (1980), Organizational
Commitment Questionnaire by Porter and Smith (1970), and the Work holism
Questionnaire and Coping Checklist by McLean (1979). Stress was found to exist at
all levels of management though varying in degrees. The top level managers were
found to have the highest levels of stress and were workaholics. But they were
equipped with inadequate coping mechanisms in relation to the perceived stress and
they showed the least amount of organizational commitment. As for the first level
managers, though they experience more stress as compared to their middle level
counterparts, they also had better coping mechanisms and were not workaholic. The
middle level managers experienced less stress, but due to poor coping abilities were
found to be more prone to mental ill health and had a strong inclination towards
workaholism. Though on the whole the managers did not show very high levels of
workaholism, the middle and top level managers were found to be mildly workaholic.
The study found a negative relation between organizational commitment and stress
across the three levels. Here, it should be noted that the middle level manager who
shows high organizational commitment also has the requisite coping skills and
therefore, would experience low chronic work related stress, while the top level
manager who is high on organizational commitment would show less episodic work
related stress. In the case of the first level managers, it was seen that a highly
committed manager shows low chronic work stress but high amounts of episodic
work stress. A positive correlation was found between workaholism and
organizational commitment for all three managerial levels though highly significant
values were found only for the first level managers.
Mohan & Chauhan (1999) carried out a study to ascertain the level of burnout, the
relation between burnout and performance in terms of the role efficacy, and the effect
of locus of control on burnout in middle level managers across government, public
and private sectors. The instrument used to measure burnout was Warley’s Burnout
Inventory (1992) in which burnout is understood as alienation and is measured in
terms of the three factors - perception of the job content, immediate supervisor and
organization. Pareek’s (1982) Locus of control inventory and Pareek’s (1980) Role
Efficacy questionnaires were also used for the study. The results revealed an absence
of burnout in all the three sectors. In fact, they showed job satisfaction and
fulfillment. Furthermore, there were no inter sectoral differences in the overall
burnout or in terms of the sub dimensions, which the authors attributed to the
similarity of the level of managerial functioning. As for the locus of control, there
were again no intersectoral differences in terms of the orientation. All the employees
from the three sectors showed an internal orientation, though higher internal
orientation was found in the managers from the private and government sectors as
compared to the managers from the public sector. A similar pattern of lack of
significant variation in scores across the three sectors could be seen in role efficacy,
and a negative correlation was found between burnout and role efficacy. Further
analysis showed the existence of a negative relation between burnout and internal
locus of control. It has to be kept in mind that individuals who show an internal locus
of control are less prone to stress since they feel more capable of influencing their job
related outcomes.
A study on 250 junior and middle level executives from seven private and three public
sector organizations was conducted by Singh (1989) to examine the nature of the
stress experienced by them. It was seen that various forms of stress were experienced

Review of Researches                                                                2.31
in varying degrees and intensities by the executives depending on the inadequacy of
role authority, experience of inequity, job difficulty, role ambiguity, lack of leadership
support, lack of group cohesiveness, constraints of change, role overload, mismatch
between job requirement and capability to role conflict. A similar qualitative picture
emerged as far as the overall stress experience was concerned among sectors as well
as across different managerial levels.
Burnout among Teachers
Studies over the years bear testimony to the fact that teachers in the education system
are vulnerable to stress. Heavy workloads, low autonomy, high pupil-teacher ratio,
poor working conditions, relations with colleagues, poor salaries, role overload and
challenging student behaviors force many teachers to shift to an alternative
profession, and several of those who persist succumb to burnout. Whitehead & Ken
O’Driscoll (2000) undertook a study on job burnout among teachers and principals at
47 primary schools in New Zealand. Besides confirming the construct validity of
MBI, the major finding of this study was that these teachers showed significantly
higher scores on emotional exhaustion when compared with the normative sample of
the teachers from the U.S.A. In another study conducted among female teachers in
Israel using the Pines Burnout Measure (Weisberg & Sagie, 1999), the impact of
burnout on teachers’ intention to quit their current job was investigated. The results
showed that while on one hand, both emotional exhaustion and teacher’s age were not
significant factors to impact the intention to leave, on the other hand, physical
exhaustion and mental exhaustion both showed positive and significant impact. A
significant negative correlation was found between tenure and burnout, and also
between tenure and intention to leave.
In a study (Van Horn, Schaufeli & Enzmann, 1999) of burnout among 249 Dutch
elementary and secondary school teachers in Netherlands, burnout was seen in terms
of the exchange of investments and outcomes at two levels - the interpersonal
(teacher-student) and the organizational (teacher-school). The results showed that
higher levels of emotional exhaustion could be seen in teachers when they invested
much more than what they got back from the school. Also, higher burnout levels were
associated with lower outcomes from the students at the interpersonal level, while at
the organizational level, higher burnout levels in the teachers were associated with
low investments.
Abel & Sewell (1999) conducted a study on 51 rural and 46 urban secondary school
teachers in Georgia and North Carolina to look into the sources of their stress and the
symptoms of burnout. The results showed that while for both urban and rural teachers,
pupil misbehavior and time pressures were more stressful than poor working
conditions and poor staff relations, for urban teachers, poor working conditions and
poor staff relations were significantly more stressful. For the rural teachers, poor
working conditions and time pressures could be used to predict burnout, on the other
hand, in the case of urban school teachers, pupil misbehavior coupled with poor
working conditions predicted burnout.
In a study in the Slovak Republic (Daniel & Schuller, 2000) on 445 basic (46%),
special (19%) and high school (35%) teachers, an attempt was made to study the
relation between the personality of the individual and the state of health including
burnout, age, years of practice, anxiety and other social variables. Contrary to
expectations, the results did not show the expected high burnout levels in the teachers

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though significantly high scores were found among the older teachers for classic
phobias and exhaustion. Additionally, both, the teachers just beginning to teach and
those with many years of teaching practice, showed high scores on social anxiety. A
strong positive correlation was found between the dimension of emotional exhaustion
and other variables like classic phobias, social anxiety, stage fright, depersonalization,
neuroticism, and gastrointestinal and cardiovascular problems.
Griffith, Steptoe and Cropley (1999) undertook a study, which explored the relation
between teacher stress, coping strategies and social support along with the plaintive
set caused by the negative affectivity in 780 primary and secondary school teachers in
the U.K. One of the major findings of this study was that both social support and the
coping strategies of behavior disengagement and suppression of competing activities
could predict the existence of job stress independent of other factors like age, gender,
the class size, occupational grade and negative affectivity. These two coping
responses are maladaptive and detrimental to the teaching environment since they
might further lead to higher job stress. Social support and the two coping responses
were also found to impact an individual’s appraisal of the environmental demands as
stressful or not.
Neumann et al. (1991) explored the relation between support variables (work
significance, collegial support, chairperson’s support) and two indicators of faculty
burnout (emotional exhaustion and personal accomplishment), along with the
relationship between faculty burnout and its potential consequences on organizational
commitment and recent research performance in faculty members across the
departments of Physics, Sociology, Electrical Engineering and Education in U.S.
research universities. The results showed that the support indicators were strong
determinants of emotional exhaustion and personal accomplishment in Physics, while
they exhibited a weak link with emotional exhaustion and personal accomplishment in
Education and with emotional exhaustion in Sociology. Additionally, a strong relation
between emotional exhaustion and commitment and recent published articles existed
in the hard sciences which was not the case in the soft sciences. As for personal
accomplishment and commitment, a strong relation existed within all fields, and there
was a stronger relation of personal accomplishment with recent published articles in
the hard sciences.
The teachers in the field of special education are believed to experience extremely
high levels of stress and burnout. After extensive review of international literature,
Antoniou et al. (2000) reported that teaching in the Special Education Needs area is
one of the most stressful occupations due to many reasons such as very high
workload, limited progress of the students and low salaries. Above all, these jobs
involve a lot of emotional investment along with the additional pressures created in
meeting the needs of the students who have either a sensory-motor, physical or mental
impairment. This prolonged exposure to excessive demands on the teachers’
emotional resources brings about very high levels of stress and burnout in them. A
study was undertaken by Antoniou, Polychroni and Walters (2000) with a sample of
110 teachers of special education needs (61% males) in Greece to find out the various
sources of job stress and professional burnout and the coping mechanisms used. The
results revealed that moderate to high levels of stress were experienced by these
teachers, the three main categories of stressors for them being handling the difficult
children, work overload/lack of time, and lack of support from government. The
researchers suggest that often unable to have a positive tangible impact on the
behavior of the children with special needs, the teachers feel extremely frustrated,

Review of Researches                                                                 2.33
develop low self-esteem and gradually give in to burnout. As for burnout, this set of
teachers showed moderate to high levels of emotional exhaustion, moderate levels of
depersonalization along with low levels of personal accomplishment. The results
suggest that the teachers still retained their sense of self-efficacy, competence and
achievement even in the face of the high levels of stress experienced by them.
Such studies on people working in the field of education have been conducted in India
as well. In a comparative study, Upadhyay & Singh (1999) explored the occupational
stress experienced by 20 college teachers and 20 executives in Bhopal. Both the
groups differed significantly on the experience of stress as seen on the Occupational
Stress Index. These differences were on factors such as role overload, intrinsic
impoverishment and status. An attempt was made to investigate the relation between
life stress and burnout (Sahu & Misra, 1995) in 120 female degree college teachers in
India. The results revealed that a significant positive relation exists between life stress
and two dimensions of MBI - emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, while this
is not the case with personal accomplishment. Additionally, similar relations could be
seen between family related stress and the MBI dimensions, i.e. a significant positive
relation existed between family related stress and emotional exhaustion and
depersonalization while there was a negative relation with personal accomplishment.
Furthermore, society related stress was found to relate with only depersonalization.
Burnout among Nurses, Doctors and Other Health Professionals
After an extensive review of literature, Goelman and Guo (1998) identified factors
like poor wages and working conditions, unclear job descriptions, little social support
or communication at the work place, personality, employment history, educational
background and the worker’s perception of child care work as having a substantial
impact on burnout among child care workers. In a study (Thornburg, Townley &
Crompton, 1998) on 226 adult family childcare providers, an attempt was made to
investigate the relation between competence and burnout. It was observed that
variables like age, educational level, use of lesson plans, perceived adequacy of space,
satisfaction with material and equipment had a significant impact on an individual’s
level of competence and burnout. Furthermore, the older and less satisfied (with the
material and equipment) providers were more prone to burnout, while the more
educated and more satisfied (with the material and equipment) were found to be more
A group of 55 psychiatrists in Russia (Lozinskaia, 2002) were rated on emotional
exhaustion, depersonalization, professional growth and tedium on the basis of some
interviews and the MBI. While the majority of psychiatrists showed unsatisfactory
ratings in relation to professional growth, less than half showed unsatisfactory ratings
vis-à-vis emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and tedium. A positive relation was
found between emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and tedium, and some factors
such as inadequate administration and patient behavior, lack of satisfaction in the
patients and their relatives due to their unrealistic expectations of the outcome of
therapy, impossibility of establishing an informal relation with the clients and lack of
social support emerged as contributing to the development of burnout.
In a group of 84 forensic doctors in the Netherlands (Ploeg, Dorresteijn & Kleber,
2003), the relation between acute and chronic stressors and self-reported health
measures such as post traumatic responses, fatigue and burnout were investigated.
The results showed that the greater the experiences of traumatic events, the greater are

Review of Researches                                                                  2.34
the problems faced in dealing and coping with these traumatic events. Also, a relation
was found between chronic job stressors and posttraumatic responses of intrusions
and avoidances along with burnout and fatigue.
Baird & Jenkins (2003) made an attempt to explore vicarious trauma, or what is
known as compassion fatigue, in a set of 101 trauma counselors by investigating the
relation between factors such as client exposure, workload, and the fact of being paid
as a staff member vs. being a volunteer, and the burnout subscales. The results
revealed that while on one hand less vicarious trauma was reported by the more
educated counselors and also by those who saw more clients, on the other hand,
higher levels of emotional exhaustion were seen in the younger counselors and in
those with more trauma counseling experience.
In yet another research study (Collins & Long, 2003), the effects of doing therapeutic
work with seriously traumatized people were studied in a team of trauma and
recovery workers set up in the wake of the Omagh bombing which took place in 1998.
The Compassion Satisfaction/Fatigue test, the Life Status Review Questionnaire and
open-ended questionnaires were administered to these workers four times during the
period from 1998 to 2001. The findings of this study revealed an increase in the levels
of compassion fatigue and burnout over the first year, and a decrease in the levels of
compassion satisfaction and levels of satisfaction with one’s life and life status. The
most positive aspects of the work were linked to the satisfaction in seeing the clients
recover, team spirit and camaraderie. Furthermore, the authors concluded on the basis
of their results that the likelihood of increase in both compassion fatigue and burnout
decreased with an increase in compassion satisfaction, compassion satisfaction being
a possible protective shield against compassion fatigue and burnout.
In a study in Northern Ireland on nurses working in a large hospital, it was seen that
job stress and outcome health variables were unrelated to gender differences and
higher levels of stress are found in older nurses. Additionally, the results showed that
while the nurses’ physical health was significantly determined by Type A behavior
pattern, it was (internal) locus of control which showed a strong relation with
occupational stress (lower), job satisfaction and the overall mental health of the
individual (Kirkcaldy & Martin, 2000). In order to investigate the effect of locus of
control and work related stress on burnout in hospital nurses, a sample of 361 staff
nurses in Germany were administered the Maslach Burnout Inventory, Locus of
Control Questionnaire and a Work related Stress Inventory. The results showed that
poor locus of control in the nurses was related to more work related stress and
burnout, and that the perceived degree of control plays a crucial role in helping nurses
cope with stress and burnout (Schmitz, Neumann & Opermann, 2000).
Gueritault-Chalvin et al. (2000) conducted a study to investigate the coping skills
used in dealing with burnout in nurses working in the HIV/AIDS area. The results
showed significant impact of the external and internal coping styles used by the
nurses on their burnout levels and this was over and above the role of other factors
like age, perceived workload and locus of control. Further analysis showed the
mediating role played by an individual’s external coping style vis-à-vis the effect of
locus of control on burnout. However, this mediation was not found in the case of
those with an internal coping mechanism. Thus, it was concluded that an individual’s
cognitive and behavioral coping style play an important role in dealing with burnout
in nurses dealing with HIV/AIDS patients.

Review of Researches                                                               2.35
Sekhar (1996) carried out a study on 120 nurses, 40 each from corporate, university
and government hospitals, to investigate the nature of stress and burnout experienced
by nurses working in hospitals differing in the ownership pattern. It was hypothesized
that the nature of the stress and burnout experienced by these nurses would differ on
the basis of the type of hospital they belonged to, and secondly, that their stress and
burnout levels would differ according to the number of patients they cared for. The
MBI was used to assess the nurses on the three dimensions of burnout, Parker’s
(1983) and Decottis’ (1983) scales were used to measure time stress and work-related
anxiety, while helplessness was measured using the Ashforth’s scale (1989). Both the
hypotheses were supported by the results. It was seen that compared to the other two
sets of nurses, the corporate nurses showed higher time stress and overall job stress
while being moderate on helplessness, while the government hospital nurses scored
the highest on helplessness. The highest scores on burnout were reported by the
government hospital nurses. However, there were no significant differences with
regard to depersonalization amongst the nurses, which attests to the commonality of
this experience of depersonalization in this profession. While the corporate nurses
showed high scores on emotional exhaustion, it was the university nurses who showed
the lowest scores on both the stress and burnout dimensions. With regard to the
second hypothesis, the results showed a strong impact of the number of patients on
the depersonalization and the personal accomplishment dimensions of burnout.
Another study which looked into the different levels of burnout on the basis
differences in the practice setting was the one undertaken by Vredenburgh, Carlozzi
and Stein (1999) on 521 counselling psychologists. It was seen that while the lowest
level of burnout was seen in the psychologists in private practice, it was the
psychologists working in hospitals who showed the highest levels of burnout, with
males in both the settings showing more depersonalization than females. The results
showed the existence of an inverse relation between age and burnout, and a positive
relation between an individual’s sense of personal accomplishment and the number of
hours of client contact per week.
The study by Proctor & Steadman (2003) looked into the differences in the job
satisfaction, burnout and the perceived effectiveness levels between an in-house group
of school psychologists, i.e. those who served a single school, and the traditional
group which comprised of those school psychologists who served several schools
concurrently. The in-house group fared much better on all the dimensions than the
traditional group, the levels of satisfaction and perceived effectiveness being higher
and the levels of burnout being lower in the in-house group.
In a comparative study in Switzerland (Cocco et al., 2003), the stress and burnout
levels were investigated in caregivers from nursing homes and acute geriatric wards
of general hospitals. The results obtained from the socio-demographic data, General
Health Questionnaire, the MBI and the Stressful Events Questionnaire showed that
the general hospital care givers had higher scores on depersonalization and emotional
exhaustion and lower scores on personal accomplishment. On further analysis, it was
seen that high emotional exhaustion scores were caused by the general hospital work-
setting, professional role, gender (female) and the patient-caregiver ratio, while high
depersonalization scores were more associated with general work setting and
Robinson (2003) undertook a review of articles published in the preceding 15 years
focusing on the nature and consequences of stressors faced by women physicians. It

Review of Researches                                                              2.36
was seen that women physicians showed much higher rates of successful suicides and
divorces. There were a number of stressors such as slow promotions, lower salaries,
much lesser resources at disposal, lack of mentors for guidance, and a range of other
micro-inequities. There were additional pressures arising from conflicts in fulfilling
the roles of a mother, wife and career woman. Surprisingly, even in the wake of these
stressors and pressures, which can cause many impediments and obstructions in their
life, stress reactions and psychological problems, the women physicians seem
satisfied with their careers.
In a study on 200 female nurses in Thailand, it was seen that crying did not lead to
substantial reduction in stress levels of the nurses even though crying was found to be
important in dealing with home/work stress and pressures created in the process of
dealing with patients. The benefits of crying were seen in only those nurses who
showed low intrinsic job satisfaction, while the dissatisfied nurses who cried
infrequently were found to have the highest levels of stress (Pongruengphant &
Tyson, 2000). In another study conducted on 648 ward based mental health nurses in
the U.K., the authors concluded that burnout is much less a significant problem in the
mental health nurses than what has been reported by previous research (Carson et al.,
Burnout in Other Professions
Posig and Kickull (1993) tested the adequacy of Cordes and Dougherty’s (1993)
framework of employee burnout in non-service occupations. Their results supported
the efficacy of this model. It was seen that the relation between role conflict, role
ambiguity, quantitative role overload stressors and emotional exhaustion as well as
the relation between emotional exhaustion and depersonalization was moderated by
the presence of supervisory social support. Additionally, the existence of a negative
association between participation and depersonalization was observed.
Burke, Shearer and Desza (1984) investigated the utility and generalizability of
Golembiewsky’s phase model of burnout in 426 men and women employed in the
police force. They found a worsening of both work and personal experiences with a
progression of burnout to the more advanced phases. Also, a significant relation was
found between the progressive phases of burnout and the measures of work setting,
the stress experienced and emotional and physical wellbeing. On the whole, the
results supported Golembiewsky’s phase model.
In a Dutch study (Kop and Euwema, 1999) conducted on police officers, an attempt
was made to study the relation between reciprocity (with civilian colleagues and
police organization), burnout and interpersonal conflict management. The MBI scores
revealed average scores on depersonalization and personal accomplishment with
relatively low scores on emotional exhaustion. A strong relation was found between
lack of reciprocity in the police officers and high levels of burnout along with the
existence of a negative attitude towards conflict management in those officers who
were found to be burned out. While the use of more conventional strategies during
confrontations (involving less investment) with civilians was seen in officers who
were high on depersonalization, a decrease in the use of these strategies (avoidance
behavior) was observed in those who were high on emotional exhaustion.
Slate, Johnson and Wells (2000) after reviewing the various factors and remedies for
probation officer stress suggested the existence of a direct correlation between
occupational level and job satisfaction. Those officers who were at the entry level or

Review of Researches                                                              2.37
were better educated or were from a minority group showed a higher propensity to
quit the job. Amongst the probation officers, unnecessary paperwork, lack of time to
get a job accomplished, financial concerns, sense of uncertainty relating to retirement
benefits and insufficient mileage reimbursement were some of the major stress
inducing factors.
Fletcher and Hanton (2003) interviewed international sports performers, both male
and female, regarding the potential sources of organizational stress. The factors that
were found to be critical were the personal issues of nutrition, injury, goals and
expectations, environmental issues of selection, finances, training environment,
accommodation, travel, and competition environment, leadership issues of coaches
and their coaching style, and finally the team issues of team atmosphere, support
network, roles and communication.
In a study of stress and burnout among 163 male and 98 female collegiate tennis
coaches (Kelley, Eklund and Ritter-Taylor, 1999), an attempt was made to investigate
the suitability of the three alternative models of stress-mediated relations between
personal and situational variables like hardiness, coaching issues, competitive levels,
gender, trait anxiety, leadership styles and burnout. The results showed a pattern of
the levels of burnout in the coaches similar to that found in Maslach’s study (1986) of
helping professionals in the field of higher education. A significant main effect of
gender was observed in the study with coaching issues being more stressful for the
female coaches than the male coaches. The results revealed the efficacy of the stress-
mediation model in adequately explaining the emergent relationships in the data.
In a comparative cross-cultural study of 198 students in India and 344 students in
Canada (Sinha, Willson and Watson, 2000), stress, coping, psychosocial variables like
locus of control, self-esteem, life orientation (optimism-pessimism) and social support
were investigated. It was hypothesized that the Indian students would experience
more stress, would use more of emotion-focused coping strategies, and would have an
external locus of control, low self-esteem, pessimistic life orientation and a higher
social support satisfaction. Contrary to the expectations, it was the Canadian students
who reported higher levels of stress, though Indian students, as was expected, did
make more use of the emotion focused coping strategies. Additionally, Indian
students had higher scores on chance control and showed lower satisfaction with
social support. However, a similar pattern emerged for both the groups of students on
the factors of powerful others and internal control.
Having reviewed the existing literature the next chapter would look at the knowledge
gap and present design of the study.

Review of Researches                                                              2.38

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