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Human Resource Management in the Public Sector

Human Resource Management in the Public Sector

New Horizons in Management series

Edited by Ronald J. Burke, Andrew J. Noblet and Cary L. Cooper

This insightful book presents current thinking and research evidence on the role of human resource management policies and practices in increasing service quality, efficiency and organizational effectiveness in the public sector.

Chapter 6: Work engagement among public and private sector dentists

Arnold B. Bakker and Jari J. Hakanen

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, organisational behaviour, public management, politics and public policy, public administration and management, public policy


Dentistry is a stressful occupation (Blinkhorn, 1992; Wilson et al., 1998). Several studies have shown that burnout (for instance, a job stress syndrome characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment) is by no means rare among dentists (for example, Gorter et al., 1998; Gorter, Eijkman and Hoogstraten, 2000; Humphries, 1998; Osborne and Croucher, 1994). Research has identified several job demands associated with job stress and burnout in the dentistry profession. In his review of the literature, Gorter (2000) concluded that demanding patient interactions, workload, time pressure, physical demands, and inflicting pain or fear are all possible causes of job stress in dentistry. How do dentists manage to cope with their job demands and stay engaged in their work? In the present chapter, we answer this question by investigating the working conditions of Finnish dentists. In this respect, the difference between the public and private sector is important. The dental law reforms carried out in Finland in the early 2000s are of particular concern for dentists working in the public sector.

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