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Overworked in America? How work hours, immigrant status, and interpersonal justice affect perceived work overload

Derek R. Avery (Department of Psychology, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA)
Scott Tonidandel (Department of Psychology, Davidson College, Davidson, North Carolina, USA)
Sabrina D. Volpone (Department of Psychology, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA)
Aditi Raghuram (Department of Psychology, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 16 February 2010

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Abstract

Purpose

Though a number of demographics (e.g. sex, age) have been associated with work overload, scholars have yet to consider the potential impact of immigrant status. This is important because immigrants constitute a significant proportion of the workforce, and evidence suggests many employers believe they are easier to exploit. This paper aims to examine work hours, interpersonal justice, and immigrant status as predictors of work overload.

Design/methodology/approach

The hypotheses were tested using a large, national random telephone survey of employees in the United States (n=2,757).

Findings

As expected, employees who worked more hours tended to perceive more work overload. Importantly, however, this effect interacted with interpersonal justice differently for immigrant and native‐born employees. Justice attenuated the effect of work hours for the former but seemed to exacerbate it somewhat for the latter. Of note, the interactive effect was more than five times larger for immigrants than for natives.

Practical implications

The study shows that supervisors might require their employees to work longer hours without necessarily being perceived as abusive (i.e. overloading them). Doing so, however, requires treating employees justly in the form of respect, courtesy, and dignity. Though this form of just treatment is important for all employees, its effects are especially pronounced for immigrants.

Originality/value

The relationship between the number of hours worked and perceptions of work overload is examined for immigrant and non‐immigrant workers in the USA.

Keywords

Citation

Avery, D.R., Tonidandel, S., Volpone, S.D. and Raghuram, A. (2010), "Overworked in America? How work hours, immigrant status, and interpersonal justice affect perceived work overload", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 133-147. https://doi.org/10.1108/02683941011019348

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited