Current Research and Practice
Chapter 4: Job Support and Job Control
INTRODUCTION In previous chapters we have outlined the fundamental processes involved in the development of personal well-being, and have discussed various work-related factors which can contribute to well-being (and its converse, strain), including both dispositional and situational variables. Two variables which we have not to this point discussed in detail, but which have received considerable attention from both researchers and practitioners, are the amount of social support the individual experiences in their work environment and the level of control that they feel they can exert over that environment. Job-related support and control have been regarded as two highly influential variables, so this chapter is specifically devoted to a discussion of their role in the development and maintenance of positive wellbeing and the alleviation of work strain. Given that the preponderance of research has focused on strain, rather than more general well-being, for simplicity we will describe the impact of support and control on strain rather than well-being, although the mechanisms and impact are the same (albeit in opposite directions). Both support and control can function in a variety of ways but there are two major mechanisms by which they influence strain (or well-being). First they can exhibit a direct relationship (correlation) with psychological strain – the more support or control the person experiences, the lower the level of strain they report. Numerous empirical studies have confirmed this direct relationship. Alternatively social support and job control can exert a moderating effect on the relationship between environmental stressors (such as work demands, role...
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