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Stress episode in aviation: the case of China

Louise Tourigny (Management Department, College of Business & Economics, University of Wisconsin‐Whitewater, Whitewater, Wisconsin, USA)
Vishwanath V. Baba (DeGroote School of Business, Hamilton, Canada)
Xiaoyun Wang (I.H. Asper School of Business, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada)

Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal

ISSN: 1352-7606

Article publication date: 9 February 2010




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of role stressors on job stress among airline employees in mainland China. More specifically, the aggravating effects of shift work and the mitigating effects of decision latitude are explored to facilitate strategies of intervention aimed at reducing job stress.


Data are collected using a field survey in Mandarin from 485 airline employees, including pilots, flight attendants, and service employees in five major cities in mainland China.


The findings demonstrate that role overload and role conflict have significant positive effects on job stress. Furthermore, both shift work and its interference with non‐work activities significantly elevated the impact of role overload on job stress. Findings also reveal that decision latitude mitigated the detrimental effect of role overload on job stress for employees working on fixed shift, but not for employees working on rotating shift.

Research limitations/implications

This is a cross‐sectional study using perceptual measures.

Practical implications

The findings suggest that aviation managers in China need to focus not only on decision latitude but also on job and organizational design to mitigate the impact of job demands on stress. While decision latitude works to ease demands among those who work on fixed shifts, it does not work in the same way for those working on rotating shifts.


This paper corroborates the cross‐cultural applicability of stress theory by demonstrating the detrimental role of rotating shift on stress while at the same time calling attention to some cultural shaping of the findings.



Tourigny, L., Baba, V.V. and Wang, X. (2010), "Stress episode in aviation: the case of China", Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 62-78.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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