The Moderating Role of Personality in HRM - from the Influence of Job Stress on Job Burnout Perspective

By Hsieh, Yi-Hua; Wang, Mei-Ling | International Management Review, April 1, 2012 | Go to article overview
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The Moderating Role of Personality in HRM - from the Influence of Job Stress on Job Burnout Perspective

Hsieh, Yi-Hua, Wang, Mei-Ling, International Management Review


This paper aimed to explore the relationship between auditors' job stress and job burnout, and the moderating role of the locus of control from a job-demand perspective. Questionnaires were collected from accounting firms in Taiwan with high workload and employee turnover. Regressions were used to examine the influences of six dimensions of job stress on three dimensions of job burnout. Hierarchical regression analysis was used to test the moderating effect of internal/external locus of control between job stress and job burnout. Results show that auditors' job stress positively influences job burnout; internal/external locus of control reveals a moderating effect between job stress and job burnout. These findings suggest that improvement of job stress and decrease of job burnout are the priorities in human resource management. Moreover, in comparison to the external locus of control, people with an internal locus of control experience lower positive influence of job stress on job burnout. These empirical findings affect the decision-making for the field of the human resource management and organizational behavior.

[Keywords] personality; locus of control; job stress; job burnout; human resource management


During the past decade, there has been a growing interest in the literature on job stress from both theoretical and empirical perspectives (Fried, 1993). The experience of stress at work has been singled out as an important area of investigation because of its potential effect on the health and performance of employees. Much research (Fernet, et al., 2010; Maslach & Jackson, 1981) indicates that these individual symptoms of stress had positive association with job burnout. Today, the current and on-going organizational downsizing hints that companies increasingly put pressure on employees to perform. Therefore, job stress and burnout is an important and inevitable issue in organizational studies at present.

There is increasing empirical evidence that personality trait affects individuals' attitudes and behaviors (Abu-Elanain, 2008; Hsu, 2011; Tasa, et al., 2011). The role of personality trait in work-related behaviors and values has received renewed interest over the past decade (Adler, 1996; Costa, 1996; Hough, 1998; Judge, et al., 1999; Salgado, 1997; Schneider, 1996; Twenge & Campbell, 2008). Personality trait refers to cognitive and behavioral patterns that show stability over time and across situations. It has been shown to be a valid predictor of behavior in work settings (Anderson, 1977). According to the viewpoint of stress interaction, the influences of stress on individuals varies because of individual personality. Therefore, the employees' personality trait is an important factor for stress management.

In international labor trend analysis of 2010 by the Council of Labor Affairs, Executive Yuan suggested that Taiwan labor's working hours were the second longest in the world (2,170 hours a year, 8.34 hours a day). According to a questionnaire survey of the Health Promotion Division, Department of Health, Taipei City Government, on employees' physical and psychological states in 2010, over 30% of the subjects worked for more than 48 hours every week, which was higher than the legal working-hour regulation. This study suggested that by recognizing influences of job stress and burnout on employees in Taiwan, as well as the moderating effect of personality traits, stress management could be performed effectively, and employees' job efficiency and physical and mental health would be also improved thoroughly (Ganster & Schaubroeck, 1991).

Job demand refers to the degree to which an employee has to work fast and hard, has a great deal to do, and has too little time. Higher job demands can be captured as psychological stressors. The auditor in an accounting firm is considered a very stressful profession in many countries. The job is typically characterized by heavy workloads, many deadlines, and, often, excessive time pressures.

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