During the past decade, stress has become a significant topic in organizational behavior, in part due to the increase in competitive pressures in many industries, increased globalization, and advances in technology. This chapter is concerned with stress and its implications for managing organizational behavior. The chapter first briefly focuses on the stress in the new environment. The discussion then examines “What stress is and is not.” The next section takes a look at the General Adjustment Syndrome, an early model of stress response and then the discussion turns to predisposition to stress. Sources of stress and the consequences of stress are the focus of the next section. The discussion then turns to individual and organizational strategies for preventing, managing, and reducing stress. The chapter concludes with a look at stressors resulting from international activities or organizations and ethical issues surrounding stress in organizations.
A leading expert on stress, cardiologist Robert Eliot, gives the following prescription for dealing with stress: “Rule No. 1 is, don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule No. 2 is, it’s all small stuff. And if you can’t fight and you can’t flee, flow” (“Stress: Can we cope?” 1983). What is happening in today’s organizations, however, is that the “small stuff” is getting to employees, and they are not going with the “flow.” Stress has become a major buzzword and legitimate concern of the times.