Relational Perspectives in Organizational Studies

Relational Perspectives in Organizational Studies

A Research Companion

Edited by Olympia Kyriakidou and Mustafa F. Özbilgin

The contributors to this highly innovative and authoritative research companion, leading experts in their field, apply relational analyses to different areas of organization studies and provide a comprehensive review of the relational perspectives. The book features empirical, theoretical, philosophical and methodological contributions from a wide spectrum of disciplinary perspectives on relationality in and around organizations.

Chapter 6: Stress and Burnout: A Relational Perspective

Ayala Malach Pines

Subjects: business and management, diversity and management, organisation studies


Ayala Malach Pines* In the last decade stress has become one of the hottest areas of psychological research (numbering close to 28 000 studies). While less so than stress, burnout has also been a frequent topic of research (with over 1000 studies in the last decade). Burnout is often conceptualized within the framework of stress research (for example Farber, 1983; Paine, 1982) and people tend to use ‘burnout’ and ‘stress’ interchangeably. Nevertheless the two are different concepts with different etiologies. Stress was defined by pioneer stress researcher Hans Selye as ‘the nonspecific result of any demand upon the body, be the effect mental or somatic.’(Selye, 1956, 1993). The stress reaction is the same regardless of the type of stressor in both animals and people. Other stress researchers (for example Aldwin, 1994; Sarason & Spielberger, 1979; Spielberger, 1979; Lazarus, 1966, 1993, 2000) view it as a broader relational concept that describes outcomes of interactions between the environment and the individual. Lazarus’s cognitive–motivational–relational stress formulation for example emphasizes the mediating effects of appraisal and coping in the stress process. Burnout, on the other hand, is the end result of a process in which highly motivated and committed individuals lose their spirit (for example Freudenberger, 1980: 13; Maslach, 1982: 3; Pines & Aronson, 1988: 9). Burnout happens most often to people who entered their careers with high hopes, ideals and ego involvement. It is experienced as a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion (Pines & Aronson,...

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