This article was downloaded by: [University of Barcelona]On: 19 February 2012, At: 06:15Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Psychology & Health Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/gpsh20 Emotion work and job stressors and their effects on burnout a a a Dieter Zapf , Claudia Seifert , Barbara Schmutte , Heidrun a a Mertini & Melanie Holz a J.W. Goethe-University, Frankfurt, Germany Available online: 19 Dec 2007To cite this article: Dieter Zapf, Claudia Seifert, Barbara Schmutte, Heidrun Mertini & MelanieHolz (2001): Emotion work and job stressors and their effects on burnout, Psychology & Health,16:5, 527-545To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08870440108405525PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLEFull terms and conditions of use: http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditionsThis article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make anyrepresentation that the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. Theaccuracy of any instructions, formulae, and drug doses should be independentlyverified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions,claims, proceedings, demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever causedarising directly or indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of this material.
Psychologyund Health, 2001, Vol. 16, pp. 527-545 0 2001 OPA (Overseas Publishers Association) N.V. Reprints available directly from the Publisher Published by license under Photocopying permitted by license only the Hanvood Academic Publishers imprint, part of Gordon and Breach Publishing, a member of the Taylor & Francis Group. Printed in Malaysia. EMOTION WORK AND JOB STRESSORS AND THEIR EFFECTS ON BURNOUT DIETER ZAPF*, CLAUDIA SEIFERT, BARBARA SCHMUITE, HEIDRUN MERTINI and MELANIE HOLZ J. W. Goethe- University, Frankfurt, GermanyDownloaded by [University of Barcelona] at 06:15 19 February 2012 (Infinalform 15 Junuury, 2001) This article reports research on emotion work, organizational as well as social variables as predictors of job burnout. In burnout research, high emotional demands resulting from interactions with clients are seen as a core characteristic of service jobs. However, these emotional demands were seldom measured in a direct manner. It was only recently that emotional demands were included in studies on burnout refemng to the concept of emotion work (emotional labor). Emotion work is defined as the requirement to display organizationally desired emotions. A multi-dimensional concept of emotion work was used to analyze the relations of emotion work variables with organizational and social variables and their joint effect on burnout in five samples including employees working in childrens homes, kindergartens, hotels, banks and call centers. Emotion work variables correlated with organ- izational stressors and resources. However, hierarchical multiple regression showed a unique contribution of emotion work variables in the prediction of burnout. Moreover, the analysis of interaction effects of emotional dissonance and organizational and social stressors showed that for service professionals, the coincidence of these suessors led to exaggerated levels of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. KEY WORDS: Emotional labor, job stressors, burnout Burnout is a phenomenon which was first investigated in the health care professions (Maslach, 1982; Schaufeli and Enzmann, 1998; Schaufeli et al., 1993). The management of emotions comprising the control and adequate expression of ones emotions are con- sidered a central part of work in these jobs. The interaction with patients, clients or children demands empathy and emotional involvement which many employees consider more and more difficult as time goes by. Burnout is an indication of the employees growing inability to adequately manage their emotions when interacting with clients. Interestingly, however, most empirical studies on burnout did not directly measure emo- tional demands at work, such as: how often do employees have to show or control certain emotions? Rather, they analyzed organizational and social variables as potential predictors of burnout. This is shown, for example, in the meta-analysis of Lee and Ashforth (1996) who analyzed the effects of various predictors on emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and personal accomplishment, the components of burnout suggested by Maslach and Jackson (1986). Organizational job stressors such as role conflict, role stress, stressful events, workload and work pressure showed the strongest associations with emotional exhaustion. Similar results occurred for depersonalization. For personal accomplishment, job stressors were not predictive. Rather, the number of work friends was a strong predictor here. However, among the predictor variables of burnout listed by Lee and Ashforth, there *Corresponding author. Tel.: +49 69 798 22963; Fax: +49 69 798 23847; E-mail: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org; Website: http://www.rz.uni-frankf~rt.de/FB/fb05/ psychologie/AbteiVABO/ index.htm. 527
528 D. ZAPF ETAL. were neither direct measures of emotional demands such as the frequency of displaying emotions nor indirect indicators such as “caseload” or number of client contacts. It is only recently that authors have tried to investigate relationships between more direct measures of emotional demands resulting from the interaction with clients and burnout (e.g. Abraham, 1998; Adelmann, 1995; Brotheridge and Lee, 1998; Bussing and Glaser, 1999; Grandey, 1998; Morris and Feldman, 1997; Nerdinger and Roper, 1999; Schaubroeck and Jones, 2000; Zapf et al., 1999; for an overview, see Zapf, in press). These authors referred to the conceptual work of Hochschild (1983) on emotional labor. Emotional labor or emotion work refers to the quality of interactions between employees and clients. “Client” is used here to refer to any person who interacts with an employee, for example, patients, children, customers, passengers or guests. We will use the term “emotion work” throughout this article because generally “work” instead of “labor” is used in work and organizational psychologyDownloaded by [University of Barcelona] at 06:15 19 February 2012 to refer to cognitive or motivational aspects of work (cf. Zapf, in press). Expressing appro- priate emotions during face-to-face or voice-to-voice interactions acts as a job demand for many employees in the service industry. Examples are flight attendants who are required to be friendly even to arrogant or aggressive customers (Hochschild, 1983), nurses or teachers who have to show empathy towards patients or children or bank employees who have to signal trustworthiness by putting on a friendly but solemn face. Hochschild drew upon the work of Goffman (1959) to argue that in practically all social interactions, people tend to play roles and try to create certain impressions. Impressions include the display of normatively appropriate emotions following certain display rules. This general social phenomenon also applies to social interactions at work. Employees are not only required to work on tasks and exert mental and physical effort. They are also required to manage their emotions as a part of their job. Usually, flight attendants smile when talking to passengers. Sometimes, how- ever, they are not in the mood for it, e.g. when they have to deal with arrogant passengers, when they feel exhausted or when they are in a bad mood after a conflict with a colleague. Emotion work as part of the job, however, often implies that the display of organizationally desired emotions is required even in such situations. Accordingly, Zapf (in press) defined emotion work as the psychological processes necessary to regulate organizationally desired emotions as part of one’s job. This definition includes the definitions of Moms and Feld- man (1996, p. 987) who identified emotional labor as the “effort, planning and control needed to express organizationally desired emotions during interpersonal transactions”. Depending on the theories one refers to, psychological processes such as perception, goal development or sensorimotor regulation may not be subsumed under effort, planning and control. Ashforth and Humphrey’s (1993, p. 90) definition of emotional labor as “the act of displaying appropriate emotion (i.e. conforming with a display rule)” which aims at the display of emotions and less at the inner feelings, can also be subsumed under the definition given above. A similar definition was also provided by Grandey (2000). Several studies (e.g. Abraham, 1998; Adelmann, 1995; Brotheridge and Lee, 1998; Morris and Feldman, 1997; Nerdinger and Roper, 1999; Schaubroeck and Jones, 2000; Zapf et al., 1999) provided initial evidence for relationships between emotion work and burnout although some of the findings were equivocal. However, so far there are only a few studies that simultaneously considered various kinds of organizational and social work characteristics and emotion work at the same time. Therefore, evidence is still lacking as to whether there is a unique contribution of emotion work to the prediction of burnout. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationships between emotion work, organiza- tional stressors and resources and their combined effects. The following questions arise: ( 1) Are there relationships between organizational variables and emotion work? ( 2 ) Is there
EMOTION WORK AND JOB STRESSES 529 a unique contribution of emotion work in the prediction of burnout when emotion work is combined with other organizational and social variables? Finally, (3) Are there interaction effects between job stressors and emotion work? In order to provide some answers to these questions, we will first outline the concept of emotion work used in this study. Second, we will discuss the conceptual overlap between emotion work and organizational as well as social stressors and resources which could question the unique meaning of emotion work. Third, we will discuss how and why emotion work is likely to interact with organizational stressors. THE CONCEPT OF EMOTION WORKDownloaded by [University of Barcelona] at 06:15 19 February 2012 The concept of emotion work used in this study is based on an action theory framework (Zapf et al., 1999). Action theory describes the cognitive processes necessary to execute goal-oriented actions (Frese and Zapf, 1994; Hacker, 1973, 1998). From this perspective, emotion work is part of intentional and goal-oriented behavior. Etzioni (1964, p. 4) describes organizations as “planned units, deliberately structured for the purpose of attaining specific goals.” To put organizational goals into action, sub-goals are distributed to the members of the organization by the division of work (e.g. Porter et al., 1975). Every mem- ber of the organization receives orders to carry out certain tasks. The orders are redefined into subjective goals by the employees (Hackman, 1969). The redefinition process includes norms, rules or standards, according to which tasks have to be carried out. In service jobs, some of these rules refer to the display of emotions towards clients. In the case of a call- center where employees interact with customers by telephone, there may be rules such as: talking to customers should not exceed five minutes; customers should be addressed by their name, or the call-center agents should talk to the customer in a friendly tone through- out the interaction. Taking over implicit or explicit organizational rules to display emotions when interacting with a client is part of the redefinition process. Hochschild ( 1983) described various psychological consequences of emotion work and posited that emotion work is a special far-reaching form of human exploitation leading to the alienation of one’s feelings and causing psychological ill health. However, studies that operationalized such a unidimensional concept of emotion work (e.g. Adelmann, 1995; Wharton, 1993) could not find the negative relations with psychological strain as suggested by Hochschild. Therefore, other authors have worked on the differentiation of various aspects of emotion work, many of them referring to the work of Morris and Feldman (1996). This was also done in the present study. Emotion work was conceptualized as a multidimensional construct which poses various demands on the worker. This view considers the job requirement aspects (Hackman, 1969) or antecedents (Grandey, 2000; Moms and Feldman, 1996) of emotion work and is congruent with the idea that objective job characteristics or job stressors created by the organization affect the workers in various ways (Frese and Zapf, 1988; Spector, 1992). Based on theoretical concepts and empirical findings first presented by Zapf et al. (1999), five aspects of emotion work could be differentiated: (1) the requirement to display positive emotions (abbreviated as “positive emotions”); (2) the requirement to display and handle negative emotions which also implies a high variety of emotions (“negative emotions”); (3) the requirement to sense the emotion of the interaction partner (“sensitivity requirements”); (4) the influence on the social interaction (“interaction control”); and (5) the dissonance between felt and displayed emotions (“emotional dissonance”).
530 D.ZAPF ETAL. In line with most empirical studies on emotion work (e.g. Adelmann, 1995; Brotheridge and Lee, 1998; Morris and Feldman, 1997) we measured the frequency of emotional display. Factor analyses (Zapf et al., 1999) demonstrated the necessity of distinguishing between showing positive and showing negative emotions. Showing negative emotions usually implies demonstrating a high variety of emotions because positive emotions have to be shown in most of the jobs. Therefore, the requirement to display negative emotions comes close to the concept of variety of emotion display suggested by Morris and Feldman ( 1996). The expression of organizationally desired emotions is not an end in itself. Emotions are shown to have an influence on clients (Kruml and Geddes, 2000). Expressing emotions is one possible way to influence the clients’ emotions. In the service industry, for example, customer satisfaction or empathy shown by the service provider are used in the assessmentDownloaded by [University of Barcelona] at 06:15 19 February 2012 of service quality (e.g. Zeithaml and Bitner, 2000). In health care service, calming a nervous patient is often a prerequisite for adequate medical treatment (Strauss et al., 1980). All these activities of the service provider aim at influencing the clients’ emotions by displaying certain emotions. To be able to influence the clients’ emotions, their accurate perception is an important prerequisite. This is also in accord with concepts of communication psycho- logy (Riggio, 1986) as well as those of emotional intelligence (Salovey and Mayer, 1990). Therefore, sensitivity requirements as the necessity to be sensitive and to consider the emotions of clients is another aspect of the emotion work concept (Zapf et al., 1999). Sens- itivity requirements are low if there are no or little interactions with clients or if an employee can display organizationally desired emotions independent of the clients’ feelings. Sensit- ivity requirements are high, if knowledge of the clients’ emotions is a prerequisite for one’s own emotional reaction. Sensitivity requirements are positively correlated with emotional display requirements because the expression of an emotion during an interaction usually is dependent on the emotion of the interaction partner (Zapf et al., 1999). Only in short routine interactions might a person express emotions without trying to sense the emotion of others. Interaction control is part of the emotion work concept. It is a special case of job control with regard to the social interactions with clients in which emotions have to be displayed (Zapf et al., 1999). Interaction control is high if the employee can decide when and with whom he or she interacts and when to start or stop an interaction with a client. Finally, as most of the other studies of emotion work, we included the concept of emotional dissonance (e.g. Abraham, 1998; Brotheridge and Lee, 1998; Bussing and Glaser, 1999; Grandey, 1998; Kruml and Geddes, 2000; Morris and Feldman, 1996,1997; Nerdinger and Roper, 1999; Zapf et al., 1999; Zerbe, 2000). Emotional dissonance occurs when an employee is required to express emotions which are not genuinely felt in the particular situation. This may be considered as a form of person-role conflict, in which a person’s response is in conflict with role expectations regarding the display of emotions (Abraham, 1998; Rafaeli and Sutton, 1987). A person may feel nothing when a certain emotion display is required, or the display rule may require the suppression of undesired emotions and the expression of neutrality or a positive emotion instead of a negative one. Emotional dissonance has been studied as resulting from an external demand rather than a reaction to emotion display or a behavioral strategy (Zapf et al., 1999). In the work of Hochschild (1983), it was emotional dissonance that was hypothesized to lead to the alienation of one’s feelings which in turn caused various psychological strains. Studies on emotional dissonance consistently found correlations with emotional exhaustion (e.g. Abraham, 1998; Brotheridge and Lee, 1998; Grandey, 1998; Morris and Feldman, 1997; Nerdinger and Roper, 1999; Schaubroeck and Jones, 2000; Zerbe, 2000).
EMOTION WORK AND JOB STRESSES 53 1 Various approaches to stress research have differentiated between stressors and resources (Cordes and Dougherty, 1993; Frese and Zapf, 1994; Hobfoll and Freedy, 1993; Kahn and Byosiere, 1992; Karasek and Theorell, 1990). Although these approaches differ in detail, they assume that stressors are related to strain variables such as psychosomatic complaints, exhaustion or depression, whereas resources are assumed to be related to psychological well-being. Moreover, resources are assumed to function as a buffer against stress (Kahn and Byosiere, 1992). Based on recent findings on organizational stressors and burnout, Leiter (1993) proposed a similar model for stressors, resources and burnout, in which stres- sors and resources are differentially associated with the three burnout dimensions. In this model, stressors are posited to be more strongly related to emotional exhaustion whereas the resources are related to personal accomplishments. With regard to both the positive and negative effects of emotion work, Zapf et al. (1999) posited that the display of positive andDownloaded by [University of Barcelona] at 06:15 19 February 2012 negative emotions as well as sensitivity requirements are not necessarily stressful but follow the person-environment fit approach. As long as the situational requirements do not exceed the individual’s abilities, needs and resources, they have a positive effect on psychological well-being. If abilities, needs and resources are overtaxed, a negative effect on psychological well-being will occur. In the case of emotion work, emotional dissonance is an indicator of overtaxing a person’s abilities, needs and resources in a social interaction with a client. Zapf et al. (1999) found empirical evidence that emotional dissonance was positively related to emotional exhaustion and depersonalization whereas the display of positive emotions and sensitivity requirements were positively related to personal accom- plishment. These results indicate that emotion work is not negative per se. Rather, there are both positive and negative implications of emotion work variables. THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ORGANIZATIONAL, STRESSORS AND RESOURCES, AND EMOTION WORK Although there are some studies demonstrating positive relationships between emotion work and burnout, it is still unclear whether there is a unique contribution of emotion work in the prediction of burnout. It could be hypothesized that the shared variance between emotion work and burnout can be explained by the effects of task and organizational vari- ables. Schaufeli and Enzmann (1 998), for example, argued that there is a conceptual overlap between task or organization related and interaction related predictors of burnout, since both depend on the frequency of interactions with clients and on the difficulty of the cases. First, if there are frequent interactions with clients, time pressure should be reported because the underlying primary tasks have to be carried out frequently. Another job stres- sor is “Concentration Necessities” which refers to the frequency of information processing and high load of the working memory (Semmer et al., 1995, 1999; Zapf, 1993). It is also likely that high concentration necessities are reported in interactions with clients because interaction implies sending and receiving information. At the cognitive level, frequent or long lasting interactions imply frequent information processing and a high memory load because in most social interactions there is little opportunity to write down information or store it otherwise. Frequent interactions, however, are also related to most of the emotion work variables. The longer or the more frequent employees have to interact with clients, the more often they need to display positive and negative emotions. Accordingly, the more often they also need to be required to sense the clients’ emotions as well as to display emotions they do not feel at that particular moment (emotional dissonance).
532 D.ZAPF ETAL. A second issue is the quality of social interactions. Social interactions may be experi- enced as pleasant, neutral or unpleasant. Pleasant social interactions are characterized by mutual support and appreciation, unpleasant interactions are typically characterized by conflicts, misunderstandings, animosities or exaggerated expectations of the interaction partner. Again, it can be assumed that the quality of the social interactions both affect the cognitive and emotional aspects of work. Decisions about goals and how to achieve them may be a more difficult task to manage in complicated situations. Thus, goal attainment may take longer than planned which in turn contributes to time pressure. Complicated social interactions may be more unpredictable and contribute to uncertainty of goal achievement and organizational problems. Uncertainty of goal achievement is an action theory based concept of a job stressor (Frese and Zapf, 1994; Semmer et al., 1995; Zapf, 1993). Uncertainty is high if goals are unclear, ambiguous or contradictory or if feedback isDownloaded by [University of Barcelona] at 06:15 19 February 2012 lacking or ambiguous so that it is difficult to decide whether or not one is approaching the goal. It can be speculated that conflicts between the service provider and his or her client arise because the work of the service provider is not carried out as expected by the client due to problems in the work organization (organizational problems as a stressor). A study by Jimmieson and Griffin (1999), for example, showed that the satisfaction of clients of health care centers was negatively related to role conflicts in the organization. Thus, mismanagement and organizational problems may relate to conflicts with clients. Solving conflicts with clients may prolong the interaction and increase the likelihood of displaying negative emotions, sensitivity requirements as well as emotional dissonance. In par- ticular, if organizational problems foster conflicts with clients, it should be more difficult to display the organizationally desired emotions resulting in higher levels of emotional dissonance. Similar arguments hold for resources and emotion work. More complex tasks require longer interactions with the clients to solve the tasks. In longer interactions, it is unlikely that a person can display emotions routinely without considering the clients’ emotions. Thus, sensitivity requirements should be high. Moreover, longer interaction should also require a variety of emotions because in complex tasks it is likely that the interaction partners differ in views on how to solve the tasks which should be sometimes accompanied by negative emotions. Various studies show that complexity and control are positively associated (e.g. Semmer, 1982; Zapf, 1993). It follows that complexity and control should be positively correlated with the display of negative emotions and sensitivity requirements. Finally, Morrison and Feldman (1996) posited that control is negatively associated with emotional dissonance. Control should either allow the display of the emotions felt or it should enable employees to avoid situations where they feel unable to display the required emotions. In sum, we hypothesized that emotion work variables were correlated with organiza- tional stressors and resources due to the reasons given above (Hypothesis 1). However, a total overlap was not assumed. Rather, it was hypothesized that emotion work variables are able to predict a unique portion of variance in the burnout variables (Hypothesis 2). The reason is that emotional dissonance is not (only) stressful because of its associations with various organizational stressors. In this case the negative effects of emotional dissonance should disappear if organizational variables were partialed out. Rather, it is an independent stressor. Several explanations have been given for the stressful nature of emotional disson- ance. Hochschild (1983) argued that emotional dissonance would lead to the alienation from one’s true feelings which would negatively affect one’s well-being. Recently, Grandey
EMOTION WORK AND JOB STRESSES 533 (2000) referred to theories of emotional regulation which showed that the suppression of emotion was negatively related to psychological health (Gross, 1998). With regard to the emotion anger, for example, various studies showed that the suppression of anger was associated with increased levels of systolic blood pressure and other cardiovascular vari- ables (Hodapp er al., 1992; Mills er al., 1989). Suppression of emotions is one facet of the emotional dissonance concept. Thus, it can be concluded that there is a stress mechanism of emotional dissonance independent of organizational stressors. We will investigate Hypothesis 2 by comparing the relationships between task character- istics, social working conditions, emotion work and burnout using hierarchical regression. If emotion work variables explain a significant amount of variance in burnout, after con- trolling for task or organizational variables, stressors and social support, this will imply a unique contribution of emotion work to the prediction of burnout.Downloaded by [University of Barcelona] at 06:15 19 February 2012 Based on the concepts, which posit the co-occurrence of high emotional demands and a negative organizational environment as being of importance in the development of burnout, an interaction of emotion work and organizational stressors can be expected. This can, for example, be explained by theories on multiple stressors which refer to cog- nitive capacity theories (Wieland-Eckelmann, 1992). These theories assume that given limited cognitive capacities, they become overtaxed, and stress appears (Schonpflug, 1985). If stressors occupy the same resources (e.g. if attention has to be paid to the prim- ary task and the interaction task at the same time, cf. Kahneman, 1973) the multiple stressors may exceed certain capacity thresholds thus leading to effects which are higher than the additive effects of emotion work and organizational stressors. Another explana- tion refers to the dual-level social exchange model of Schaufeli et al. (1996). The authors proposed that reciprocity (i.e. the balance of investments and gains) plays a major role in the development of burnout. If individuals perceive a relationship as unbalanced they feel distressed and try to restore reciprocity. Depersonalization can then be regarded as a way of restoring reciprocity by withdrawing psychologically from the clients (Buunk and Schaufeli, 1993). According to the dual level exchange model of burnout, lack of reciprocity can occur at the interpersonal level where emotion work is relevant and at the organizational level, where task-related and organizational stressors are relevant. Social workers, for example, cannot expect that their feelings are returned by drug addicts. The emotional investments in clients have to be balanced by the organization for which they work, perhaps in the form of recognition, avoiding unreasonable organizational prob- lems or workload or by receiving social support. If emotion work is high, it is likely that there is no reciprocity at the interpersonal level. If organizational and social stressors are high at the same time, and, particularly if the individuals believe that the organization could do more to reduce such stressors, then the emotional demands at the interpersonal level may not be seen as balanced at the organizational level. Emotion work has to be carried out under aggravating circumstances. It follows that the coincidence of high emo- tion work and high organizational problems should be related to high levels of burnout. Thus, the third hypothesis is that there are interaction effects of organizational and social stressors with emotion work. More specifically, we will investigate the interaction effects with emotional dissonance because almost all studies have shown that emotional dissonance is a strong stressor (see the review of Zapf, in press). We did not investigate interaction effects with regard to personal accomplishment because various authors (e.g. Cordes and Dougherty, 1993; Lee and Ashforth, 1996; Leiter, 1993) as well as our previ- ous findings suggested that personal accomplishment depends on resources rather than on stressors.
534 D.ZAPF E T A L . METHOD Sample The following analyses were based on a sample consisting of five subsamples. The first subsample consisted of employees working in a home for children with special needs and other social service institutions in South Germany. Fifty-eight percent worked in a chil- dren’s home and had direct client contact (nurses, team leaders, social workers), 19% also worked in the children’s home, but had no direct contact to clients (administration, tech- nical staff). Moreover, 24% were employees with direct client contact in a hospital, and in other homes for problem children and children with special needs. As in the other samples, participation was voluntary. The second sample was collected in the hotel business. WithDownloaded by [University of Barcelona] at 06:15 19 February 2012 the help of the “BerufsgenossenschaftNahrung” (professional food association), 20 hotels were included in the study. Fifteen percent had a “HauptschulabschluB” (lower stream school leaving certificate), 29% had “mittlere Reife” (middle stream school-leaving certificate), 44% had “Abitur” (high school diploma qualifying for university entrance) and 11% some type of university degree. Only a minority of 18% did not have a specific vocational education related to the hotel business. The third sample consisted of particip- ants who were employed in 14 call-centers of various firms. This sample consisted of employees who all had voice-to-voice contacts with clients. Seventy-four percent had a high school diploma qualifying for university entrance (Abitur) or some kind of university degree. Seventy-six percent received calls but did not call clients themselves (inbound), the others were preoccupied with both calling and receiving calls (inbound and outbound; details can be found in Isic et al., 1999). The fourth sample was collected in seven banks. Forty-three percent of the sample had a specific banking vocational education and another 32% a university degree. The majority of the sample (97%) had more than two years of job experience. The final sample consisted of employees collected in 70 of the 140 public kindergartens in one of Germany’s large cities. The kindergartens were systematically selected to obtain the full variety of kindergartens for the sample. The sample consisted of almost 50% of the total workforce of the city’s public kindergartens. Twenty-two percent of the sample possessed some kind of university degree; 35% had visited vocational schools for kindergarten teachers; 74% had received some kind of high school degree. In all, 87% had some kind of specific education for their job and 94% of the sample had more than two years of job experience. Characteristics of the subsamples were summarized in Table 1. The subsamples differed in many respects. Therefore, it would be appropriate to test the hypotheses at the level of these subsamples. This was done by the authors. As a result of mainly similar results in the subsamples and space limitations as well as our not having a special focus on differential findings in the subsamples, we report results with regard to the total sample. Analyses for the subsamples are available from the first author on request. Instruments Organizational stressors and resources were measured with the “Instrument for Stress- oriented Job Analysis” ISTA 6.0 (Semmer et al., 1995, 1999). On the basis of an action theory approach, job characteristics were classified into regulation requirements (job complexity) and regulation possibilities (task control) which are considered as resources for the present analyses. In addition, this approach comprised regulation problems which
EMOTION WORK AND JOB STRESSES 535 Table 1 Sample description Sample N Response MeanAge Percent Occupations rate (%) Women Handicapped 83 -‘ 38 80 Nurses, educators, social workers, children’s home administrative and technical staff Hotels 175 29 80%between 71 Frontline officers, waiters or waitresses, 18 and 32h administrative staff Call center 250 50 31 75 Call center agents in banking, insurance, airline industry Bank 122 -I 31 50 Banking employees Kindergartens 611 67 39 94 Kindergarten educators, social workers, technical staff Total sample 1241 - 36 88Downloaded by [University of Barcelona] at 06:15 19 February 2012 Notes: Distribution of questionnaires was organized by the institutions. They were not able to report the response rate. To ensure anonymity, we were only able to use age categories (18-22,23-28;. . , 6 3 4 7 ) .Category mean was used for the hotel sample. were defined as negatively affecting the cognitive regulation of actions. Regulation problems represent an action theory concept of psychological stressors which negatively affect the regulation of action. (cf. Frese and Zapf, 1994; Semmer et al., 1999; Zapf, 1993). Job complexity assessed the complexity of the decisions and planning processes required to fulfill the task (example-item: “Colleague A has to plan in detail how the task can be solved. Colleague B’s tasks do not require any planning processes. Which job is more similar to yours?’). Job control as a resource refers to the number and kind of decision possibilities concerning the tasks (example-item: “Is it possible in your job to make one’s own decisions how to carry out the tasks?’). Task and organizational stressors comprised uncertainty, organizational problems, con- centration necessities and time pressure. Uncertainty aims at unclear or contradictory goals, conditions or outcomes of actions and included contradictory or unclear orders (e.g. “How often you get contradictory orders?’). Organizational problems ask for prob- lems in the work organizations which typically cause additional effort to carry out the tasks. Examples are working with material of poor quality or not getting information in time (e.g. “A has to use tricks to be able to fulfil hidher work. B is equipped in such a way that he/she can manage without additional effort. Which job is similar to yours?’). Time pressure refers to problems caused by the speed and quantity of information processing: action regulation cannot occur as planned within a given time frame (e.g. “How often do you have to work during your break because there is so much work?’). Concentration Necessities refer to the problem of information overload of the working memory during action execution. In this case, too much concurrent information is required in the working memory in order to accomplish the task. (e.g. “Do you have to make mental notes of things which are difficult to remember (number of units, names, addresses, codes, file names, folders, etc.?’). Response categories ranged from 1 to 5 (e.g. “very little” to “very much” or “very seldom” to “very often”). Social stressors. A scale developed by Frese and Zapf (1987) was used which comprised social animosities, conflicts with colleagues and supervisors, and a negative group climate (e.g. “My supervisor pushes all the time”, “One has to pay for the mistakes of others”). Response on a five-point scale ranging from 1 (not at all) to 5 (absolutely) was required.
536 D. ZAPFETAL. Social support. Social support was measured using Frese’s (1989) German adaption of the social support scales developed by House and Caplan (Caplan et al., 1975). The items (e.g. “How much can each of these people be relied on when things get tough at work?’) were answered with reference to supervisors and colleagues. The support items were rated on a four-point scale ranging from 1 (not at all) to 4 (absolutely). Emotion work was measured using the Frankfurt Emotion Work Scales (FEWS) (Zapf et al., 1999). Five dimensions were operationalized. Positive Emotion refers to the require- ment to show pleasant emotions (example-item: “In your job how often does it occur that you have to display pleasant emotions towards your clients?’)).Negative emotions ask for the display and treatment of unpleasant emotions (example-item: “How often does it occur in yourjob that you have to display unpleasant emotions towards your clients?’). Sensitivity requirements measure whether empathy or knowledge about clients’ current feelings areDownloaded by [University of Barcelona] at 06:15 19 February 2012 required by the job (example-item: “Does your job require paying attention to the feelings of your clients?’). Interaction Control refers to the degree of influence an employee has in social interactions with clients (example-item: “Can you decide when to finish an interaction with a client?”). Items of Emotional Dissonance refer to the display of unfelt emotions and to the suppression of felt but organizationally undesired emotions (example-item: “Person A can openly display hidher true feelings - Person B has to display feelings toward clients which do not match hidher true feelings. What is your job like?’). Response categories of the emotion work subscales range from 1 to 5 (“very seldom” to “very often”). Burnout (emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and personal accomplishment) was measured using the Maslach Burnout Inventory - German version of Bussing and Perrar (1992). Emotional exhaustion measures one’s feeling of being frustrated and perceiving work with people as very demanding. Depersonalization comprises the tendency to treat clients as objects and to become indifferent and apathetic with regard to clients. Personal Accomplishment includes the feeling of having energy to do things and of being able to meet one’s aspirations. A seven-point scale (1-7) was used for the burnout items. The descriptive data of the scales are summarized in Table 2. Correlations of all study variables are shown in Table 3. Table 2 Descriptive data of study variables ~ ~~ Mean SD Coeficient Range Numberof a items Job complexity 3.41 0.75 .7 1 1-5 5 Task control 3.44 0.94 .88 1-5 5 Uncertainty 2.36 0.76 .73 1-5 5 Organizational problems 2.53 0.67 .72 1-5 5 Concentration necessities 3.22 0.84 .74 1-5 5 Time pressure 3.13 0.86 .80 1-5 5 Social stressors 1.74 0.52 .90 1-5 8 Support supervisor 2.93 0.72 .86 1-4 4 Support colleagues 3.11 0.57 .83 1-4 4 Positive emotions 3.46 0.82 .5 1 1-5 3 Negative emotions 2.94 0.89 .69 1-5 3 Sensitivity requirements 3.49 1.03 .85 1-5 3 Interaction control 2.70 0.82 .55 1-5 3 Emotional dissonance 2.99 0.83 .79 1-5 5 Emotional exhaustion 2.53 1.03 .88 1-7 9 Depersonalization I .99 0.88 .65 1-7 5 Personal accomplishment 4.64 0.99 .79 1-7 8 Note: I035 < N < 1235.
538 D. ZAPF ETAL. RESULTS In Table 3, the display of positive and negative emotions and sensitivity requirements were positively correlated with job complexity. Correlations with task control were somewhat lower. Emotional dissonance showed a negative correlation of -.33 with task control. Moreover, emotional dissonance showed the highest correlation with uncertainty and time pressure. Finally, the positive correlations of all emotion work variables except interaction control with concentration necessities and time pressure may indicate that all these variables were dependent on high caseload. In sum, as predicted in Hypothesis 1, the correlations between emotion work, task and organizational stressors and resources show that there is some overlap among these variables. The results for the unique contribution of emotion work on burnout which is not covered byDownloaded by [University of Barcelona] at 06:15 19 February 2012 other predictors (Hypothesis 2) are shown in Table 4. The Table shows regressions of burnout on emotion work variables on the left and hierarchical regression with task and organizational variables, social variables and emotion work on the right. In both cases, age and gender were used as covariates. If emotion work variables only were considered, they accounted for 12.0% of the variance of emotional exhaustion. If emotion work variables were entered into the regression after task and organizational variables and social variables, they accounted for an additional 3% of the variance. Uncertainty, organizational problems, time pressure, social stressors, negative emotions and emotional dissonance were significant predictors. The p of emotional dissonance was reduced from .29 to .14 when all variables were considered. Similar results occurred for depersonalization. Again, emotional dissonance was a strong predictor here. Even when entered into the regression after task and organizational and social variables, emotional dissonance showed the highest p weight. A somewhat different picture appeared for personal accomplishment. First, the differ- ence between explained variance by emotion work entered into the regression equation alone which was 13.8%and emotion work entered after task and organizational and social variables which was 7.4%,was lower compared with the respective results for emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. This indicates that the overlap of the variables was lower here. Second, the pattern of significant predictors was different. Job complexity was a significant predictor of personal accomplishment as well as organizational problems and concentration necessities. Note that concentration necessities were positively related to personal accomplishment. In contrast to emotional exhaustion and depersonalization where emotional dissonance was the most important predictor, the display of positive emo- tions and sensitivity requirements were predictors of personal accomplishment. The more frequently positive emotions were displayed and the more sensitivity was required, the higher the sense of personal accomplishment attained. In addition to the analyses presented so far, we were interested in the effects of indirect measures of emotion work such as caseload or number of difficult clients on burnout. Schaufeli and Enzmann ( 1 998) concluded in their review that these indirect measures were often of no significant meaning in previous studies. We were not able to systematically ana- lyze this in the total sample. However, we were able to carry out some analyses at the level of subsamples. In the call center sample, correlating emotional exhaustion with the number of talks per hour, the length of the talks or any product of these variables and the number of working hours per day or per week did not exceed the zero-order correlation of working hours per day and emotional exhaustion which was .18 (p < .O l), whereas the zero-order correlation of emotional dissonance and emotional exhaustion of the call center sample was .48 (p < .01) (Zapf et al., 1999). Similarly, the percentage of time the hotel employees
Downloaded by [University of Barcelona] at 06:15 19 February 2012Table 4 Organizational variables, social variables, emotion work and their effects on burnout: hierarchical multiple regressions Emotional exhaustion DepersoMlization Personal accomplishment B R2 AR’ B R’ AR2 p R2 AR2 4 R’ AR’ /3 R’ Ah” /3 R2 AR2Step 1Covariates 0.7 0.7 0.7 0.7 4.1 4.1* 4.1 4.1* 0.3 0.3 0.3 0.3Age -.01 -.01 -.17* -.17* .04 .04Gender -.09* -.09* . I o* .lo* .04 .04Step 2 22.4 21.7* 17.5 13.4* 11.1 10.8* =!Complexity -.05 -.06 .18* 2Control -.04 -.20* -.02 QUncertainty .22* .16* -.08Organizational problems .19* .05 -.15* xConcentration necessities - .11* > .20* zTime pressure .22* .09 .04 WStep3 25.1 2.7* 19.6 2.1* 12.4 1.3* $Social stressors .17* .12* -.03 mSupport supervisor .02 -.01 1 .06 icrSupport colleagues -.07 -.07 .08 13 mStep 4 12.7 12.0* 28.3 3.2* 16.4 12.3* 23.3 3.7* 14.1 13.8* 19.8 7.4* gPositive emotions -.09* -.08 -.lo* -.09* .28* .23*Negative emotions .14* .12* .lo* .11* .02 -.01Sensitivity requirements .07 .05 -.01 .oo .16* .15*Interaction control -.07 .oo -.09* .oo .02 .o 1Emotional dissonance .29* .14* .35* .21* -.09 -.lo*Note: Emotional exhaustion: N = I 102; Depersonalization: N = 9 5 0 Personal accomplishment: N = 949; * p < .01.Multiple regression on the left: covariates and emotion work variables; Multiple regression on the right: covariates, organizational, social and emotion work variables. VI W W
540 D. ZAPF ET AL. spent with customers correlated .13 (p c .09) with emotional exhaustion, whereas the correlation of emotional dissonance and emotional exhaustion in this sample was .33 @< .Ol) (Zapf et al., 1999). However, different results occurred for personal accomplishment in this subsample. The percentage of time spent with customers correlated .41 @<.01) with personal accomplishment. This correlation is similar in size to the one in this sub- sample between requirements for displaying positive emotions and personal accomplishment (.44, p < .01) and between sensitivity requirements and personal accomplishment (.44, p < .O 1). These results underscore the positive implications of interaction work. Moreover, the requirement to display positive emotions and sensitivity requirements accompanies the meaningfulness of the relationship and is reflected in one’s sense of personal accomplishment. Variables describing the formal characteristics of interaction in the call center sample showed the highest correlation between duration of interaction with customers and personalDownloaded by [University of Barcelona] at 06:15 19 February 2012 accomplishment (.12, p < .07) whereas positive emotions correlated .28 (p < .Ol) with personal accomplishment. These results support the view of Schaufeli and Enzmann (1998) that indirect measures of emotion work are only barely correlated with emotional exhaus- tion, whereas more substantial correlations could be found for personal accomplishment. The third hypothesis referred to potential interaction effects between organizational and social stressors and emotion work and the effect on burnout. W e investigated interac- Table 5 Interaction effects of organizational and social stressors and emotional dissonance on emotional exhaustion and depersonalization Emotional exhaustion Depersonalization B R2 AR2 P R2 AR? Srep I Age -.02 0.7 0.7* -.18** 4.2 4.2 Gender -.08* ,09** Step 2 Uncertainty (U) .32** 18.0 17.3** .22** 18.3 14.1** Emotional dissonance (E) .19** .25** Step 3 Interaction U*E .08** 18.7 0.7** .08** 18.9 0.6** Step 2 Organizat. problems (0) .29** 17.4 16.7** .14** 16.2 12.0** Emotional dissonance (E) .26** .31** Siep 3 Interaction O*E .08** 18.0 0.6** .os 16.4 0.2 Srep 2 Concentration nec. (C) .20** 12.5 11.8** .08* 15.0 10.8** Emotional dissonance (E) .24** .31** Srep 3 Interaction C*E .07 13.0 o.s* .08** 15.7 0.7** Srep 2 Time pressure (T) .28** 16.1 1S.4** .14** 15.7 11.5** Emotional dissonance (E) .20** .28** Step 3 Interaction T*E .08** 16.7 0.6** .09** 16.5 0.8** Step 2 Social stressors (S) .33** 19.6 18.9** .23** 19.3 15.1** Emotional dissonance (E) .23** .28** Step 3 Interaction S*E .os 19.8 0.2 .04 19.5 0.2 N o w : N > IOOO, Gender: 1 women, 2 men; * p < .OS; < .Ol, **p
EMOTION WORK AND JOB STRESSES 54I tions of emotional dissonance and uncertainty, organizational problems, time pressure, concentration necessities and social stressors and their effects on emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. In Table 5, the interaction effects are reported. Several authors have commented on the difficulties finding interaction effects in field studies (e.g. Jaccard et al., 1990). McClelland and Judd (1993) summarized the arguments and particularly discussed the problem of low statistical power of field studies to find such effects and the increased likelihood of p errors. On the other hand, we had to consider the increase in a errors because of multiple testing. In this study, all interactions significant at the .01 level were considered to be relevant. Table 5 shows that 6 out of 10 interactions were significant. No interaction effect appeared for social stressors and emotional dissonance. For uncertainty and time pressure, a significantDownloaded by [University of Barcelona] at 06:15 19 February 2012 interaction occurred both for emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. All interaction effects were in the expected direction and of the same kind. DISCUSSION In this paper we investigated the relationships between organizational and social stressors, emotion work and burnout. Most empirical studies on burnout have investigated the effects of organizational or social variables. It was only recently that authors directly measured emotional demands at work referring to the concept of emotion work or emotional labor. In the present article, a multidimensional concept of emotion work was described and it was argued that, first, there is partly an overlap of organizational stressors, resources and emotion work because both groups of variables depend on the number and quality of social interactions with clients. Second, it was hypothesized that there is also a unique contri- bution of emotion work in the prediction of burnout. Third, it was hypothesized that emotional dissonance interacts with organizational and social stressors, thus building up negative effects on emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. These hypotheses were investigated in a sample consisting of five subsamples including employees working in hotels, banks, call-centers, children’s homes and kindergartens. Results showed that emo- tion work variables overlapped with organizational stressors and resources. The largest correlations were found for emotion work variables and time pressure and concentration necessities which can be interpreted as an effect of the number of interactions with clients. Emotion work was predictive of all burnout variables. As hypothesized, emotion work variables were able to explain additional variance on top of task, organizational and social stressors and resources for all burnout variables. Finally, a number of interaction effects was found with regard to emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. This paper is one of the first which systematically investigated organizational variables, social variables and emotion work as well as their combined effects on burnout. In most previous studies, emotion work was implicitly considered by choosing samples where emotion work could be taken for granted. In this article, emotion work variables were explicitly measured. In general, the results of the present study are similar to those reported in the meta-analysis of Lee and Ashforth (1996) and in the review of Schaufeli and Enzmann ( 1998). The reliabilities of emotional exhaustion and personal accomplishment of the present study come close to the weighted reliabilities reported in the meta-analysis. The reliability of depersonalization is somewhat lower but comparable to other studies based on the German version of the Maslach Burnout inventory (Bussing and Perrar,
542 D. ZAPF ETAL. 1992). Moreover, the pattern of correlation between task and organizational stressors and burnout of the present study are similar to those in the meta-analysis of Lee and Ashforth. Uncertainty is similar to the concepts of role conflict and role ambiguity. Time pressure and concentration necessities resemble work load and work pressure which are among the most important predictors of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. The correlations in the present study are somewhat lower which may be due to the objective wording used in the ISTA instrument. The instrument measures the work situation in a descriptive way and avoids conceptual overlap with strain variables (cf. Frese and Zapf, 1988; Spector, 1992), a methodological problem which is held responsible for the high correlations between stressors and emotional exhaustion by Lee and Ashforth. Moreover, social support vari- ables show lower correlations with emotional exhaustion and depersonalization than do the task and organizational variables and are of the size reported by Lee and Ashforth (1996).Downloaded by [University of Barcelona] at 06:15 19 February 2012 For personal accomplishment, uncertainty does not play an important role nor do the corresponding concepts of role conflict and role ambiguity in the meta-analysis of Lee and Ashforth (1996). Social support from supervisors and colleagues play a minor role. In contrast, however, concentration necessities and complexity are among the most important predictors of personal accomplishment. These variables are positively correlated. They correspond to Karasek and Theorell’s (1990) concept of an active and challenging job which is effortful but, at the same time, offers opportunities to feel proud of one’s achieve- ments. Concentration necessities and time pressure are often unavoidable characteristics of attractive tasks, whereas uncertainty and organizational problems are attributed to bad management. They are considered to be avoidable through better organization. In sum- mary, the results for emotional exhaustion and depersonalization seem to be comparable to previous studies whereas there may be both similarities and some differences for personal accomplishment. The present study is also comparable to other studies on emotion work with regard to the effects of emotional dissonance. The zero-order correlation of emotional dissonance and emotional exhaustion in the present study parallels the respective mean correlation found by Zapf (in press) in his overview on 12 studies. The results for emotion work show that emotional dissonance is a predictor of emotional exhaustion and deperson- alization of similar effect size as the task-related and organizational stressors. It remains a strong predictor even when entered into the regression after the other variables have been entered. The results indicate the importance of appreciating the importance of client-related stressors in the development of burnout. If organizational and client-related stressors are to be compared, a fair test requires measures of the same quality. In the past, organizational stressors were usually assessed by reliable measures referring to qualitative aspects of the job which are grounded in theory (e.g. role theory or action theory), whereas client-related stressors often consisted of single-item measures refemng to quantitative aspects of the job (e.g. “number of clients”). Comparing qualitative aspects of the service provider-client relationship operationalized by multiple item scales .with organizational stressors as in the present article seems to be a better test for comparing the predictive power of client-related and organizational stressors with regard to burnout. As in most other empirical studies, emotional dissonance defined as the requirement to display emotions which are not felt is the most stressful aspect of emotion work (see the review of Zapf, in press). Therefore, this aspect of emotion work was selected to test for interaction effects with task, organizational and social stressors at work. The analyses of interaction effects show that the coincidence of organizational stressors such as uncertainty or time pressure and emotional dissonance leads to nonlinear exaggerated effects in emo-
EMOTION WORK AND JOB STRESSES 543 tional exhaustion and depersonalization. On the basis of capacity theories (Schonpflug, 1985; Wieland-Eckelmann, 1992), it can be assumed that multiple stressors develop a joint effect which exceeds certain capacity thresholds. The thresholds would not be exceeded if single stressors only were present. The zero-order correlations between organizational stressors and emotion work (see Table 3) and the interaction effects suggest that working with clients is a typical multiple stressor situation. If all stressors are high at the same time, exaggerated levels of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization occur. The results of the present study support in part the Leiter (1993) model of burnout. Based on the present data, it can be concluded that emotional exhaustion and depersonal- ization are primarily affected by stressors whereas personal accomplishment is primarily affected by resources. In multiple regressions, the stressors uncertainty, time pressure, social stressors and emotional dissonance were significant predictors of emotional exhaustion,Downloaded by [University of Barcelona] at 06:15 19 February 2012 whereas none of the resources (complexity, control, support, positive emotions display, sensitivity requirement and interaction control) were significant. In contrast, for personal accomplishment, the resources complexity, positive emotions and sensitivity requirements were important predictors. Finally, depersonalization was both predicted by stressors (uncertainty, concentration necessities, social stressors, negative emotions and emotional dissonance) and the absence of resources (control and positive emotions). There are limitations in the study. First, it is based on a cross-sectional design and self- report measures. We think, however, that this is justified because neither the theoretical concepts of emotion work nor its empirical measures are as yet well established. Moreover, one could argue that there is a conceptual overlap between emotional exhaustion and emo- tional dissonance and that artificial explanations cannot be ruled out. One might argue that negative affectivity (NA) could be held responsible for the relationships (Burke et al., 1993). However, we do not think that such mechanisms can account for the present results. First, it is not easy to explain how such mechanisms could account for the interaction effects. Moreover, mechanisms such as negative affectivity cannot explain that dimensions of emotion work are both positively and negatively related to burnout. However, future study should be directed toward how negative affectivity could be related to stressors and strain (Spector et al., 2000). Acknowledgments The hotel study was supported by the Berufsgenossenschaft Nahrung. The banking study was supported by the BKK Team and the kindergarten sample was supported by a grant of the City School Council. References Abraham, R. (1 998) Emotional dissonance in organizations: Antecedents, consequencesand moderators. Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 124,229-246. Adelmann, P.K. (1995) Emotional labor as a potential source of job stress. In: S.L. Sauter and L.R. Murphy (Eds.), Organizational risk factors for job stress (pp. 37 1-38 1). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Brotheridge,C.M. and Lee, R.T. (1998) On the dirnensionality of emotional labor: Development and validation of an emotional labor scale. Paper present at the 1st Conference on Emotions in Organizational Life, 7-8.8.98, San Diego, CA. Burke, M.J., Brief, A.P. and George, J.M. (1993) The role of negative affectivity in understanding relations between self-reports of stressors and strains: A comment on the applied psychology literature. Journal of Applied Psychology, 7 8 , 4 0 2 4 12.
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