Applying Equity Theory to Staff Working with Individuals with Intellectual

Topics: Organizational studies, Motivation, Psychology, Mental retardation, Job satisfaction, Research / Pages: 37 (9176 words) / Published: Mar 14th, 2013
Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, March 2009; 34(1): 55–66

LITERATURE REVIEW

Applying equity theory to staff working with individuals with intellectual disabilities*

PHILIP DISLEY1, CHRIS HATTON1 & DAVE DAGNAN2
1

Lancaster University, UK and 2West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven, Cumbria, UK

Abstract Background This paper provides an overview of the empirical research on equity theory amongst staff working in services for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID). Method Relevant articles were identified by using the PsycINFO computerised database and by conducting manual searches of reference lists. Results Six studies were identified and reviewed. Staff often report that they feel under-benefited in their work-based relationships. Associations were found between staff equity perceptions and staff outcomes such as burnout, absenteeism and intention to leave. Conclusion Previous research findings on staff outcomes are discussed within the context of equity theory. The implications of staff equity perceptions for ID services are discussed and possible directions for future research are forwarded. It is suggested that equity theory may have some utility as a theoretical starting point from which to develop a comprehensive theory to integrate various strands of research on staffing.

Keywords: staff, equity theory, intellectual disabilities

Introduction Staff in intellectual disability services The past two decades have seen an increase in research relating to staff in intellectual disability (ID) services. This can partly be attributed to the central role staff play in the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities, and the emerging view that ‘‘the experience, behaviours and attitudes of staff members are crucial determinants of the social ecology of residential environments and the quality of life of residents’’ (Ford & Honnor, 2000, p. 343). Research in this area has focused upon a variety of staff outcomes – defined



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