Academic journal article Australian Health Review

Relationship between Organisational Commitment and Burnout Syndrome: A Canonical Correlation Approach

Academic journal article Australian Health Review

Relationship between Organisational Commitment and Burnout Syndrome: A Canonical Correlation Approach

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)


Decreased employee motivation and health professional performance levels negatively affect health organisations and may be attributed to many factors. These can often include administrative errors, but they are also frequently related to an individual's stress and negative thoughts and feelings. Job-related health service delivery has a structured impact on the cognition of individuals, althoughinmanycasesthesepracticesmayincrease motivationin the short-term while reducing motivation in the long-term. The psychological problems that may result from such interventions canleadtoindividualsquitting theirjobs.1-4 Takeninthiscontext, the relationship between burnout syndrome and work attitudes and behaviours, such as job satisfaction, organisational commitment and job performance, is of considerable interest from both a theoretical and practical viewpoint.3,5-7

The concept of 'burnout', which emerged in the US during the 1970s, was first defined by Freudenberger as 'energy exhaustion among professionals in the sphere of social help, it is when people feel that they are overloaded with problems of other people'.8 Occupational burnout may lead to a deterioration in the quality of work and is associated with increased job turnover, absenteeism, low morale and personal distress, including physical exhaustion, insomnia, increased use of alcohol and drugs, and marital and family problems.9 Therefore, an individual's inability to be satisfied by his or her work following burnout has wide-ranging consequences not just in the workplace, but also in family life.

Another concept that the literature shows to be correlated with burnout syndrome is organisational commitment. Organisational commitment has been defined as 'a strong belief in the organisation's goals and values and a willingness to exert considerable effort on behalf of the organisation'.10 This concept has a positive effect on individual motivation and performance in that an increased commitment to the employee's institution corresponds with a decrease in levels of burnout.11,12

Burnout syndrome

Although burnout syndrome surfaced as a research subject in the 1970s, it remains a matter of considerable interest today, with many studies continuing to investigate how the work environment influences the emotional state of the individual. The US scientist Freudenberger13 introduced the concept of burnout in 1974, with a more holistic perspective of this early work being forwarded by Maslach and Jackson a few years later.14 In that paper, Maslach and Jackson defined burnout as 'a syndrome of physical and emotional exhaustion, including the development of a negative self-esteem, a negative attitude to work and loss of understanding and sympathy for clients'.14 Under this more extensive definition, burnout syndrome is clearly seen as capable of reducing the quality of individual service and performance while increasing organisational labour turnover, increasing rates of absenteeism and lowering morale. This loss of creativity is not a reaction to boredom but to a problem that 'arises because of stress resulting from interpersonal relationships'.15

To empirically measure this concept, Maslach and Jackson developed a scale, the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI),14 which, they argued, encompasses three dimensions of burnout: (1) emotional exhaustion or overwhelming exhaustion; (2) depersonalisation or feelings of cynicism; and (3) reduced personal accomplishment.16,17 Emotional exhaustion, the basic individual stress dimension of burnout, refers to feelings of extreme emotional fatigue and lack of enthusiasm and vigour towards work.4,18 This is the most basic dimension of burnout and is a condition that results from exposure to excessive psychological and emotional demands in professions where it is necessary to provide a personalised service. The second dimension of burnout, depersonalisation, is also known within the literature as cynicism or disengagement. …

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