Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Utilizing the Maslach Burnout Inventory in Cross-Cultural Research

Academic journal article International Journal of Management

Utilizing the Maslach Burnout Inventory in Cross-Cultural Research

Article excerpt

Over the last twenty years more than 100 studies have been conducted to test substantive hypotheses related to burnout in a variety of occupations. Parallel to this line of research have been tests of the factorial stability of the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) in different cultures and languages. In the current study we reviewed measurement equivalency of the MBI. We found that, in general, the dimensionality of the instrument was similar across multiple languages and countries. Recommendations are provided to enhance the effectiveness of using the MBI in cross-cultural research.

For over twenty years researchers have investigated the burnout construct to better understand how people develop stress and cope in occupational settings. Burnout is defined as, "a syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment that can occur among individuals who do `people work' of some kind" (Maslach & Jackson, 1986). A popular instrument for measuring the degree of burnout experienced by an individual is the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI; Maslach & Jackson, 1986). Initially, the MBI was used to assess the burnout condition in human services personnel such as therapists (King & Beehr, 1983), teachers (Gold, 1984), and social workers (Yadama & Drake, 1995). More recently the MBI has been used with samples as diverse as dentists (Gorter, Albrecht, Hoogstraten, & Eijkman, 1999), small business owners (Boles, Dean, Ricks, Short, & Wang, 2000), secretaries (Walkey & Green, 1992), and pharmacists (Gupchup, Lively, Holiday-Goodman, Siganga, & Black, 1994).

The MBI is composed of twenty-two items that are used to form three scales (Maslach & Jackson, 1986). Emotional exhaustion (EE), comprised of nine items is defined as depletion of emotional resources necessary to be psychologically engaged with the task. Depersonalization (DP), comprised of five items, is defined as cynical perceptions about individual clients. Personal accomplishment (PA), comprised of eight items, is defined as personal feelings of reduced effectiveness at work. These three dimensions have been shown to be related to a variety of psychosomatic conditions and stress, supporting the convergent and discriminant validity of the MBI (Enzmann, Schaufeli, Janssen, & Rozeman, 1998; Schaufeli, Daamen, & Van Mierlo, 1994).

Dimensionality of the MBI Across Cultures

Measurement Equivalency

The MBI has received a great deal of attention in the literature with respect to its factorial stability in different occupations, countries, and languages. Empirical evidence exists to support the three-dimensional framework of the instrument, in English, among occupations (e.g., Green, Walkey, & Taylor, 1991; Kalliath, O'Driscoll, Gillespie, & Bluedorn, 2000; Maslach & Jackson, 1986; Walkey & Green, 1992). However, even though the instrument has been translated to more than ten distinct languages there has been no review of the similarity of the EE, DP, and PA dimensions across languages and countries. Thus, the purpose of our review is to identify the applicability of the MBI for use in cross-cultural research in which two or more cultures are compared on burnout. An assessment of this type is concerned with the issue of measurement equivalency (Hwang, Yan, & Scherer, 1996; Riordan & Vandenberg, 1994; Triandis, 1994) and is referred to as an "integrative research review" (Cooper, 1984).

Assurance of measurement equivalency in different cultures is important to determine if measures of a construct in one culture exist in other cultures, to determine the degree of variability on the measures among several cultures, and to determine if the measures are universal or culture-specific (Ben-Porath, Almagor, Hoffman-Chemi, & Tellegen, 1995). Moreover, Cheung and Rensvold (1999) point out that a review of this type is important to assure that samples are equivalent on how they interpret the meaning of different constructs measured by the same instrument in different languages and cultures. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.