Academic journal article New England Journal of Entrepreneurship

Bed and Breakfast Homes: A Life of Leisure or a Stressful Encounter?

Academic journal article New England Journal of Entrepreneurship

Bed and Breakfast Homes: A Life of Leisure or a Stressful Encounter?

Article excerpt

Entrepreneurs are faced with competing demands on their time and resources, along with the knowledge that most small businesses fail. Entrepreneurs and professionals in some occupations experience high stress. This qualitative study examines stressors and coping mechanisms in bed and breakfast (B&B) homes. Findings revealed that B&B owners encounter stressors concentrated on regulation, financial responsibility, work volume, and satisfaction. Owners adopted problem- and emotion-focused coping techniques to counter demands. Work volume doubled as a coping mechanism to achieve life satisfaction.

Many individuals pursue self-employment as a means of independence from heavily bureaucratic organizations (Chay, 1993). Along with the excitement and adventure of running their own business, however, these individuals deal with complex and competing demands on their time, and on their physical, social, and financial resources, as well as the knowledge that most small businesses fail (Jamal, 1997). These challenges can create potentially debilitating stress that impedes the normal functioning of small business owners.

Stress occurs when people perceive that demands tax or exceed their capabilities. These demands are noted as stressors, while the psychological, physiological, and behavioral outcomes are considered strains. Due to the debilitating aspects of stress, it is important to understand the different stressors and the methods used to reduce and/or cope with stress. Although stress is an individual perception (Lazarus, 1994), there may be common or uncommon stressors experienced by persons that perform similar work. In addition, there may be common or uncommon mechanisms used by individuals to reduce or cope with stress. Therefore, it is helpful to understand the stressors and coping mechanisms used by these individuals that may be industry- and occupation-specific.

Research has indicated that some occupations have a higher degree of stress than others do, For instance, the health care profession has been associated with burnouta specific type of stress characterized by emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and lack of personal accomplishment. The hospitality industry has also been noted to have higher levels of stress than other industries (Sarabakhsh, Carson, and Lindgren, 1989). Therefore, research is necessary to explore the specific sources of stressors and coping mechanisms used by workers in such industries.

This issue has been given some recent attention in the small business literature. Jamal (1997) found that selfemployed individuals experienced higher stress than those employed by other organizations, while Rahim (1996) found that entrepreneurs were more capable of managing stress than contracted managers given that entrepreneurs had higher locus of control. To further extend this research, this qualitative study addresses the question: "How do small business owners perceive, cope, and attribute workplace stress?"

Because small businesses rely heavily on the productivity of their owner/managers, this study qualitatively investigates the types of stressors that B&B owners experience, and the types of mechanisms they use to cope with stress. By identifying these stressors, small business owners can implement stress reduction efforts, lower costs associated with stress, and thereby improve performance. This article provides an overview of the research on stress and challenges within the B&B industry. The qualitative data-gathering procedure is described, and the themes that evolve from the data analysis are presented, along with the use of either emotion- or problem-focused coping strategies for each stressor type. The article concludes with a discussion on implications and future research directions.

The Relevance of Stress

Stress has been viewed as dysfunctional for individuals, and it has been determined that the environment can operate as a stressor, as evidenced by the emotional stress and physical debilitation resulting from exposure to uncontrollable environmental demands such as noise, economic change, or conflict. …

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