Sources and Outcomes of Stress in Organisational Settings: Toward the Development of a Structural Model

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^Academy of Managemenl Journal
1984. Vol. 27. No. 2, 330-350.

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Sources and Outcomes of Stress in Organizational Settings: Toward the Development of a Structural ModeP SAROJ PARASURAMAN Drexel University JOSEPH A. ALUTTO State University of New York at Buffalo

An integrated structural model of stress in organizations was developed and tested through path analysis. Results provided qualified support for the causal assumptions underlying the model. Role frustration and short lead times were found to be potent stressors. Felt stress and low organizational commitment independently contributed to voluntary turnover. Recent reviews of the stress literature (Beehr & Newman, 1978; Beehr & Schuler, 1982; Van Sell, Brief, & Schuler, 1981) indicate that few studies have examined the multivariate linkages among the causes and consequences of stress in organizational settings {for exceptions, see House and Rizzo, 1972; Miles and Perreault, 1976). Furthermore, only limited attention has been devoted {Bedeian & Armenakis, 1981; Miles, 1964) to assessing empirically the causal relationships among sets of organizational, task, role, and individual variables posited in theoretical models of stress (Beehr & Newman, 1978; Caplan, Cobb, French, Harrison, & Pinneau, 1975; Cooper & Marshall, 1976; Kahn, Wolfe, Quinn, Snoek, & Rosenthal, 1964; McGrath, 1976). The purpose of the present study, therefore, is to develop a preliminary structural model of stress, its antecedents and outcomes, and test the linkages specified in the model through path analysis. In formulating the proposed structural model, the study went beyond the theoretical perspectives provided in the Kahn et al. (1964) model and incorporated important elements from recent conceptualizations of stress (Beehr & Newman, 1978; Beehr & Schuler, 1982; Caplan et al., 1975; 'The authors acknowledge with thanks the assistance of Elise P. Norwood and Derek J. Wendelken in the data analyses, and the helpful comments of two anonymous reviewers. 330

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McGrath, 1976; Van Sell et al., 1981). Building on McGrath's (1976) proposition that stress in organizations originates from the behavior setting, tasks, and roles, as well as characteristics of the "person system," the model includes contextual, role-related, and personal variables as antecedent conditions potentially influencing job stressors.

Variables
Contextual Recent studies (Adams, Laker, & Hulin, 1977; Parasuraman & Alutto, 1981) have provided empirical support for the proposition that the behavior setting or sector of organizational space in which individuals are located provides a contextual basis for differential interpretations of or "meaning" ascribed to system events (Katz & Kahn, 1966; McGrath, 1976). Hence the concept of subsystem, reflecting the horizontal differentiation of organizational space, was included as a primary contextual variable capable of influencing perceptions of stressors and stress reactions. Insofar as as^ signment to different work schedules forces separation of workers, it represents another source of differential work experiences and perceptions (Pau. i asuraman & Alutto, 1981). Thus work shift, which captures the temporal dimension of separation in terms of organizational space, represented another salient contextual variable of interest. Role-Related Katz and Kahn (1966) and McGrath (1976) posited that various aspects of organizational roles could influence individuals' work experiences and reactions. Among the variables found to be related to individuals' stress perceptions and their responses are: organizational level (Kahn et al., 1964; Parasuraman & Alutto, 1981; Van Sell et al., 1981); supportive leadership practices (Caplan et al., 1975; House & Rizzo, 1972); and task characteristics (Brief & Aldag, 1976; Hall & Lawler. 1970; Parasuraman & Alutto, 1981; Schuler, 1977). Thus the set of role-related variables examined in this study"...
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