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Status differences in interpersonal strain and job resources at work: A mixed methods study of animal health-care providers

Jean Elizabeth Wallace (Department of Sociology, Faculty of Arts, University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada)
Tom Buchanan (Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada)

International Journal of Conflict Management

ISSN: 1044-4068

Article publication date: 10 January 2020

Issue publication date: 31 March 2020

257

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore how status differences relate to strained working relationships with co-workers and clients. Two statuses, gender and occupation, are examined using data from veterinarians and animal health technologists (AHTs). Competing perspectives regarding exposure to stressful relationships and access and effectiveness of work-related resources are considered.

Design/methodology/approach

An explanatory sequential mixed-methods design is used that combines quantitative survey data with open-ended qualitative data. The survey data are used to examine how interpersonal strain and access to work-related resources vary by status. The qualitative data are used to illustrate how strain is experienced by these workers and aids in interpreting the quantitative findings.

Findings

Status is linked to interpersonal client strain and access to resources. Challenging work is widely available to all three groups, but is more beneficial in reducing higher status veterinarians’ client strain. Autonomy is a scarce resource for the lowest status group (female AHTs), yet appears effective in reducing co-worker strain for everyone. Unexpectedly, work overload and market concerns appear to aggravate work-related strain and greater numbers of the lowest status group exacerbates interpersonal tensions with clients.

Originality/value

This paper contributes by examining stressful interactions experienced by two occupations who work side-by-side in the same employment settings, but who vary significantly by gender representation and occupational status. The authors argue that in addition to gender and occupational status, the organizational health of employing clinics and the feminization of veterinary practice may offer insights into how status differences are related to interpersonal conflict experienced in these work places.

Keywords

Citation

Wallace, J.E. and Buchanan, T. (2020), "Status differences in interpersonal strain and job resources at work: A mixed methods study of animal health-care providers", International Journal of Conflict Management, Vol. 31 No. 2, pp. 287-308. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCMA-08-2019-0135

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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