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Psychosocial Work Conditions, Health, and Leadership of Managers
Linköping University, Department of Medical and Health Sciences, Division of Community Medicine. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Linköping University, HELIX Vinn Excellence Centre.
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Although psychosocial work conditions, health and leadership are concepts that have been studied for a long time, more knowledge is needed on how they are related in managers. Existing research suggests that managers are very influential in their workplaces, but the way in which their workplaces influence them is often overlooked. As a result, the potential reciprocity between managers’ psychosocial work conditions, health and leadership is not in focus. Furthermore, managers have often been studied as a uniform group and little consideration has been given to potential differences between managers at different managerial levels.

The overall aim of this thesis is to increase knowledge about the relationships between managers’ psychosocial work conditions, their health, and their leadership; and to elucidate differences between managers at different managerial levels in these relationships. The thesis consists of four separate papers with specific aims. In Paper I, the aim was to compare the differences in work conditions and burnout at three hierarchical levels: subordinates, first-line managers, and middle managers; and to investigate if the association between work conditions and burnout differs for subordinates, first-line managers, and middle managers. In Paper II, the aim was to advance knowledge of workplace antecedents of transformational leadership, by investigating what psychosocial work conditions of first-line managers are associated with their display of transformational leadership; and whether superiors’ leadership is associated with first-line managers’ display of transformational leadership. In Paper III, the aim was to deepen the understanding of how managers’ health and leadership is related by combining two perspectives in previous research. The two specific research questions were: What psychosocial conditions at work affect managers’ health? How does managers’ health influence their leadership? In Paper IV, the aim was to further the understanding of managers’ perceptions of social support, and to increase our understanding of how managers perceive that receiving social support affects their managerial legitimacy.

The empirical material is based on three research projects with quantitative and qualitative designs. Papers I and II are based on cross-sectional data from 4096 employees in nine Swedish organizations. Paper III is based on 42 interviews with managers in a Swedish industrial production company, and Paper IV is based on 62 interviews with managers in a Swedish industrial production company and a Swedish municipality. The interviews were analysed using inductive content analysis.

The results showed that psychosocial work conditions and symptoms of burnout generally differed between subordinates and managers, and few differences were found between the managerial levels (Paper I). However, in the associations between psychosocial work conditions and symptoms of burnout, similarities were found between subordinates and first-line managers, while middle managers differed. First-line managers’ psychosocial work conditions were also found to be associated with their display of transformational leadership (Paper II). Psychosocial work conditions were perceived to influence managers’ performance and health, and particularly first-line managers described being dependent on favourable work conditions (Paper III). Furthermore, managers’ health was perceived to influence their leadership, and affect both the quality of their work and the quality of their relationships with subordinates. Managers’ social support came from different people within and outside their workplace (Paper IV). Support that concerned their work came from people within the workplace and was perceived to increase their managerial legitimacy, whereas support that concerned personal and sensitive matters was sought from those outside the workplace so that their managerial legitimacy would not be questioned.

The results suggest that managers’ psychosocial work conditions, health and leadership are closely related and can be conceptualized as reciprocal spirals. Some resources in the psychosocial work environment, such as social support, may be hard to take advantage of, even if they are available. The psychosocial work conditions of managers at different managerial levels differ to some extent, which has consequences for how the relationship between psychosocial work conditions, health and leadership is expressed. Especially first-line managers seem to be in a vulnerable position because their influence  s more restricted, and they are more dependent on favourable psychosocial work conditions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2013. , 72 p.
Series
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1367
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-96787ISBN: 978-91-7519-598-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-96787DiVA: diva2:643342
Public defence
2013-09-20, Aulan, Hälsans Hus, Campus US, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-08-27 Created: 2013-08-27 Last updated: 2013-09-03Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Investigating Work Conditions and Burnout at Three Hierarchical Levels
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Investigating Work Conditions and Burnout at Three Hierarchical Levels
2013 (English)In: Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, ISSN 1076-2752, E-ISSN 1536-5948, Vol. 55, no 10, 1157-1163 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objective: To investigate the differences in work conditions and symptoms of burnout, and the association between work conditions and symptoms of burnout at the three hierarchical levels: subordinates, first-line managers and middle managers.

Methods: Analyses were based on questionnaire data from 4096 employees in nine organizations, containing three hierarchical levels: subordinates (n=3659), first-line managers (n=345), and middle managers (n=92).

Results: Work conditions were found to differ between the three hierarchical levels, mostly between subordinates and managers. Managers experienced fewer symptoms of burnout than subordinates. Furthermore, the association between work conditions and burnout differed for subordinates, first-line managers and middle managers.

Conclusions: Occupational health research needs to focus more on differences between hierarchical levels regarding work conditions and burnout.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Wolters Kluwer, 2013
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-95575 (URN)10.1097/JOM.0b013e31829b27df (DOI)000330448800005 ()
Note

On the day of the defence date the status of this article was Manuscript.

Available from: 2013-07-09 Created: 2013-07-09 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
2. First-line managers’ work conditions as antecedents of transformational leadership
Open this publication in new window or tab >>First-line managers’ work conditions as antecedents of transformational leadership
2013 (English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Transformational leadership is one of the most researched leadership styles of today; nevertheless, surprisingly little attention has been paid to its antecedents. In this study, questionnaire data from 322 first-line managers and 3001 of their subordinates were used to investigate the association between first-line managers’ self-rated work conditions and their displayed transformational leadership, as rated by their subordinates; also, whether superiors’ leadership is associated with first-line managers’ displayed transformational leadership. The results showed that performance feedback, skill discretion, and social capital were positively associated with first-line managers’ transformational leadership, whereas role conflict and span of control were negatively associated with transformational leadership. No  association was found between superiors’ leadership and transformational leadership. These results suggest that changes in leaders’ work situation might facilitate an increased display of transformational leadership behaviours.

Keyword
Work characteristics; Transformational leadership; First-line managers
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-96784 (URN)
Available from: 2013-08-27 Created: 2013-08-27 Last updated: 2013-09-03Bibliographically approved
3. Exploring the relationship between managers’ leadership and their health.
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exploring the relationship between managers’ leadership and their health.
2012 (English)In: WORK: A journal of Prevention, Assessment & Rehabilitation, ISSN 1051-9815, Vol. 42, no 3, 419-427 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objective: To explore the relationship between managers' leadership and their health, by investigating what psychosocial conditions in the workplace managers experience as being important to their health, and how their health influences their leadership.

Participants and methods: Semi-structured interviews with forty-two managers at different managerial levels in a large Swedish industrial production company.

Results: Most managers felt their health was good, but many perceived their work as stressful. They said it was important to their health that they did a good job and achieved results as expected, that conditions in the workplace enabled this achievement, and that their performance was acknowledged. In comparison to the other managerial levels, the first-line managers' work and health were especially dependent on such enabling conditions. The results also showed that the managers' health influenced their leadership, the quality of their work and the quality of their relationship with subordinates.

Conclusion: Managers' leadership, health and their work conditions are reciprocally related to each other. A productive and healthy workplace is facilitated by focusing on managers' conditions for leadership, their health and their work conditions.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
IOS Press, 2012
Keyword
managerial levels, psychosocial work conditions, industrial production company
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-65500 (URN)10.3233/WOR-2012-1395 (DOI)000305896900014 ()
Available from: 2011-02-08 Created: 2011-02-08 Last updated: 2013-09-03
4. Managers’ Social Support may both Reinforce and Undermine their Legitimacy
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Managers’ Social Support may both Reinforce and Undermine their Legitimacy
2013 (English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study investigates managers’ social support, and whether managers perceive that receiving social support affects their managerial legitimacy. The material consists of 62 interviews with managers in two organizations. The results show that in order to preserve their legitimacy, managers seek support from different people, and in various distinct arenas, based on the types of support these sources provide. Work-related support, which strengthens the managers’ legitimacy, was sought from sources within the workplace. Sensitive and personal support, where there is a risk of jeopardizing their legitimacy, was sought from sources outside the workplace. The results also show that participation in various arenas in order to receive support meant that demands were placed on the managers, and this could increase their stress and strain. Social support has the potential to both reinforce and undermine managers’ perceived legitimacy.

Keyword
Managers; Social support; Legitimacy; Work conditions
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-96785 (URN)
Available from: 2013-08-27 Created: 2013-08-27 Last updated: 2013-09-03Bibliographically approved

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