Modelling a relationship between role stress & locus of control.

AuthorRashid, Irfana


Research work over the past 20 years or more has shown that the experience of stress in the workplace has undesirable consequences both for the health and safety of individuals and for the well-being of their organizations. There might be varied situations which may lead to stress at workplace; for example, when the expectations are very high, work load is too much, role leads to isolation of individual from others, individual feels that his knowledge is insufficient for performing the role, the resources allocated are not sufficient as per the requirements of the work, lack of communication among the members of the organization, lack of growth in the job, etc. Also the changing nature of work, in the context of globalization and increased technology, has led to a sharp increase in occupational stress. High rates of mergers, acquisitions, increasing economic interdependence among countries due to globalization, technological development, and restructuring have changed the organizational work culture; which in turn have resulted in time pressure, excessive work demand, role conflicts and problematic customer relationships, all are the causes of role stress (Giga & Hoel, 2003).

Role stress has been defined in terms of a misfit between person's skills & abilities and the demands of his/her role. In other words, role stress occurs when divergence exists between what a person perceives to be the role expectations and what actually is occurring within the role. Individuals experience organizational stress when they have little or no control over their jobs or when demands exceed their abilities (Donovan & Kleiner, 1994). Pareek (1980) pioneered work on role by identifying as many as 10 different types of organisational role stresses, namely, Inter Role Distance (IRD), Role Stagnation (RS), Role Expectation Conflict (REC), Role Erosion (RE), Role Overload (RO), Role Isolation (RI), Personal Inadequacy (PI), Self-Role Distance (SRD),Role Ambiguity (RA0, Resource Inadequacy (RIn). These ten stressors proposed by Pareek (1986) serve as a framework for the present study. Based on these 10 role stressors, Pareek has devised a scale for role stress, called Organizational Role Stress Scale (ORS). ORS is used as an instrument for the present study.

Another variable in the present study is a personality construct "Locus of Control." It roughly divides people into two groups according to the tendency to ascribe their chances either to external or internal causes. Persons with an External LOC perceive the results of their actions not as a result of their own performance but as a result of good or bad luck, coincidence, destiny, not predictable or dependent by other people. Persons with an Internal LOC perceive reinforcements and events that follow one's own actions, as dependent on their own performance or personality. Internality and externality represent two ends of a continuum, not an either/or typology (Rotter, 1975).

The Rationale

A large number of studies have shown that the intensity and perception of role stress is not just a product of working conditions, but largely depends on the personality attributes of an individual. Numerous individual level variables have been examined as potential moderators. Beheer and Newman (1978) listed around 30 variables, which they felt were related to stress in organizations and noted that Role Conflict and Role Ambiguity were the most explored variables. A personality variable appearing on their list was Locus of Control. Furthermore, many researchers like Rotter (1996) and Bueno (2000) see Control as an important aspect of the stress construct. Taking a clue from the mentioned studies Locus of Control was included in the present investigation.

Literature Review

The present study explores the problem of role stress in the context of healthcare professionals. A large number of studies of role stress among healthcare professionals have been conducted in Western world (Cooper et al., 1989; Howie et al., 1989; Rout & Rout, 1993; Sutherland & Cooper, 1992; Rout & Rout, 1997). However, there is a dearth of such studies in India. Some occupations, by definition, are more stressful than the others. Doctors experience relatively high levels of occupational stress in comparison to other professionals (Wolfgang, 1988; Cooper et al., 1994). The simplest explanation of doctor's stress symptoms would seem to be sought in the practice of their profession, which has the obvious tendency to be stressful. Because specific to this profession is continuous contact with the disease, sufferings, distress, death, handling of forbidden parts of the body and the great temptation to overwork (Bates, 1982). The intensity of stress among doctors can also be noted in a statement "being a doctor is physically and emotionally quite demanding" (Josephine, 2008).

There is good evidence to show that medical practitioners experience appreciable stress (Burke & Richardson, 1990; British Medical Association, 1992), comparatively high rates of suicide (Gestal, 1987) and varying degree of morbidity and early retirement (McNamee et al., 1987; Richardson & Burke, 1991). McKevitt et al. (1995) listed doctors among the ten highest risk occupations for suicide; they have a suicide risk 72 per cent higher than the general population.

The main sources of stress among doctors have been identified as: problems with practice administration, interruptions, patient's expectations and demands, emergencies, constant time pressures and work/home conflict (Cooper et al., 1989; Howie et al., 1989; Morrell et al., 1986; Porter et al., 1985; Richardson & Burke, 1993), lack of clear direction concerning the organizational goals (Murphy, 1987) and higher clinical workloads (Deary et al, 1996). In addition, some of the studies have found that doctors experience stress also due to home visits, night calls, emergency calls, 24-hour responsibility for patient's lives and coping with phone calls (Rout & Rout, 1997). The sources of stress in medical practitioners vary with the type of medical practice...

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