The Role of the Economic Crisis on Occupational Stress and Well Being: Volume 10


Table of contents

(15 chapters)

In our 10th volume of Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, we offer eight chapters that examine the role of the economic crisis in occupational stress and well being research. The first three chapters are considered more general overviews, and each examines a different aspect of economic stress and well being. Our lead chapter, by Songqi Liu and Mo Wang, provides an in-depth review of perceived overqualification. They develop and present a multilevel model of perceived overqualification that explicitly addresses antecedents, consequences, as well as the intermediating linkages within the relationships. The second chapter by Mindy K. Shoss and Tahira M. Probst also takes a multilevel approach by examining outcomes of economic stress. Specifically, they discuss how employee experiences with economic stress give impetus to emergent outcomes and employee well being. In our third overview chapter, Aimee E. A. King and Paul E. Levy develop a theoretical framework for organizational politics in an economic downturn. Specifically, they propose an integrative model that examines the role of the economic downturn, politics, and well being.

In this chapter, we aim to make the following contributions to the perceived overqualification literature. First, we provide an opportunity-based fairness conceptualization of perceived overqualification, and differentiate it from other justice constructs. Second, we present a multilevel model of perceived overqualification, which enumerates the antecedents and consequences, and explicates the mediators and moderators of the effect of perceived overqualification. Third, we emphasize the importance of considering methodological issues in future research on overqualification. Finally, we offer specific suggestions in studying applicant overqualification and recruiter perceptions.

Employees today face a number of threats to their work and financial well-being (i.e., economic stress). In an aim to provide an agenda and theoretical framework for research on multilevel outcomes of economic stress, the current chapter considers how employees’ economic stress gives rise to emergent outcomes and how these emergent outcomes feed back to influence well-being. Specifically, we draw from Conservation of Resources theory to integrate competing theoretical perspectives with regard to employees’ behavioral responses to economic stress. As employees’ behaviors influence those with whom they interact, we propose that behavioral responses to economic stress have implications for group-level well-being (e.g., interpersonal climate, cohesion) and group-level economic stress. In turn, group-level and individual-level behavioral outcomes influence well-being and economic stress in a multilevel resource loss cycle. We discuss potential opportunities and challenges associated with testing this model as well as how it could be used to examine higher-level emergent effects (e.g., at the organizational level).

Recent changes in the economy have altered both the internal and external operations of organizations. In response to the economic downturn, organizations have been forced to dramatically change their work practices and processes. Such practices inevitably create concern for employees as resources become more scarce, rewards and processes become more uncertain, and the marketplace becomes more competitive. To avoid these stressful situations and survive within their organizations, workers have to become more flexible and responsive. However, the specific ways in which the economic downturn will affect worker well-being has yet to be determined. In this chapter, we propose an integrative model of the politics– stress relationship and demonstrate the key role played by economic conditions.

Economic stressors such as job insecurity, job loss, unemployment, and underemployment cause severe difficulties for the workers affected, their families, organizations, and societies overall. Consequently, most past research has taken a thoroughly negative perspective on economic stress, addressing its diverse negative consequences and the ways that people try to cope with them. And even when following the advice provided by the scientific literature, people affected by economic stress will usually end up being off worse than they were before the onset of the stressor.

The current chapter pays credit to this perspective yet also tries to counterbalance it with an alternative one. While acknowledging the vast amount of literature outlining the negative consequences of economic stress on peoples’ well-being and careers, some literature also points at opportunities for a more positive perspective. More specifically, we argue that affected people can use a wide repertoire of behaviors for handling their current situation. Of particular promise in this regard is the concept of career adaptability, generally defined as the ability to change to fit into new career-related circumstances. Indeed, studies show that under certain conditions, career adaptability can facilitate people's search for not just any job but for a qualitatively better job, thus breaking through the spiral of losses usually associated with economic stress.

For the purpose of this argument, we link career adaptability to the concept of proactive coping, analyzing how and under which conditions career adaptability may present a contextualized form of proactive coping. We then address known personal and situational antecedents of career adaptability and show how career adaptability may be fostered and trained among different types of job seekers. We end this chapter with a discussion of open questions as well as directions for future research.

The recent economic recession has led many organizations to downsize, or eliminate positions, in an effort to cut labor costs and improve profitability. Survivors may suddenly find themselves over-rewarded, or prematurely promoted, into one or more vacant positions. One negative consequence of over-reward in particular, impostor phenomenon, may present significant challenges at both the individual and organizational level. Thus, the purpose of this chapter is to examine the consequences and coping strategies of survivors who perceive themselves as over-rewarded and under-qualified for a job. Hobfoll's Conservation of Resources Theory (COR) serves as this study's framework to explicate the outcomes associated with impostor feelings and how impostors cope with their perceived inadequacy. Specifically, we propose that impostor feelings will be positively related to emotional exhaustion. To deal with the exhaustion, impostors may rely on coping strategies in order to master the additional internal and external demands created by feelings of impostorism. The type of strategy used by impostors to cope with the exhaustion is influenced by the level of perceived social support. That is, impostors who perceive higher levels of support will resort to active coping while those who perceive lower levels of support will resort to avoidant coping. Managerial implications and directions for future research are offered.

Global virtual teams (GVTs), also known as transnational or distributed teams, are increasingly common as organizations strive to maintain a global presence, find top and diverse talent, and cope with economic constraints. Despite increasing adoption of GVTs, there is a dearth of research addressing whether GVTs are an effective coping strategy for dealing with the world economic crisis and if there are unintended negative consequences on employee well-being as a result of their use. Thus, a focal question guiding the development of this chapter is whether or not GVTs are a sustainable solution for organizations? In this chapter we present a generic framework depicting the cycle by which macroeconomic demands impose changes on organization's structures, which trickle down to the level of the individual who has to cope with the demands the new structure has imposed. We discuss GVTs as an intervention (or cure) for organizations’ dealing with the current world economic crisis and how this organizational intervention inevitably becomes the context (or cause) for the kinds of stressors or demands employees face.

In this chapter, we have proposed that an important approach to understanding occupational stress and well-being among racial and ethnic minority workers is to integrate the occupational health disparities paradigm into work stress research. As such, the current chapter provides a state-of-the-art review of the existing literature on occupational health disparities for Latinos, Asian Americans, and African Americans. Each of the three sections has highlighted the unique occupational health problems encountered by the specific racial and ethnic group as well as the research and policy gaps. We end with a series of recommendations for future research.

In the present chapter, we explore how employee well-being changes over time, both linear and psychological during periods of economic instability. Moreover, we examine how employee job embeddedness (JE) buffers the effects of economic shocks on employee well-being, and how these buffering effects change employee perceptions of time. We theorize that employees with higher levels of JE psychologically experience economic shocks as occurring infrequently with the economically unstable period feeling quick, but employees with lower levels of JE psychologically experience economic shocks as occurring frequently with the economically unstable period feeling slow. Finally, we extend these relationships to account for the spread of employee well-being through social connections, both inside and outside of the work context. Because JE requires strong social connections, we theorize that the links component of embeddedness is responsible for economic shocks and employee well-being crossing over the work/nonwork boundary. We discuss the implications for our theoretical model.

Maximilian Buyken is a PhD candidate at the Department of Work and Organizational Psychology at Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany. He received his diploma (German equivalent of a Master's degree) from Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany. His particular research interests are career adaptability – especially in the face of economic stressors – occupational health psychology and the connection between the two research areas, for example, the function of career adaptive behaviors as coping mechanisms with regard to psychological strain.

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Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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