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EXAMINING THE BURNOUT OF ACADEMICS IN RELATION TO JOB SATISFACTION AND OTHER FACTORS

EXAMINING THE BURNOUT OF ACADEMICS IN RELATION TO JOB SATISFACTION AND OTHER FACTORS

Bilge, Filiz

This study examined the relationships between burnout and job satisfaction of academics along with other related factors. The study group comprised 194 academics. The results demonstrated that the most important variable that predicts emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and personal accomplishment is intrinsic job satisfaction. It was found that the status of academics is capable of predicting not only emotional exhaustion but also personal accomplishment. In addition female gender was found to be an important predictor of a lower level depersonalization; and extrinsic satisfaction in lower personal accomplishment. No significant relationship was found with marital status, seniority and being abroad for academic purposes.

Keywords: academics, burnout, intrinsic/extrinsic job satisfaction, academic status, seniority.

In the 21st century, due to rapid scientific and technological changes, the concept of “information society” has become very important. In all the educational institutions of an information society it is a necessity to train qualified academics not only physiologically but also psychologically. Two of the factors which are closely related to the health of academics are burnout and job satisfaction.

The concept of burnout was first introduced in 1974 by Herbert Freudenberger. According to Freudenberger individuals become incapable of fullfilling the requirements of their jobs due to the close and frequent interactions with the people they meet as an indispensible part of their job, which finally lead to emotional exhaustion (Tevruz, 1996). Maslach and Jackson (1981) also studied this concept and developed the most widely adopted burnout model.

Maslach and Leiter (1997) defined burnout as the situation manifesting itself with the changes in attitude and behavior related to the job, expressed as physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, which finally gives rise to lower personal accomplishment. Maslach and Jackson (1981) state that burnout is experienced in the form of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and lower personal accomplishment. Emotional exhaustion is located in the center of the concept of exhaustion and defined as loss of energy, the feeling of being psychologically overloaded and the loss of individual’s emotional resources (Cordes & Dougherty, 1993; Cordes, Dougherty, & Blum, 1997). Depersonalization is the individual’s treatment of the persons to whom she/he is providing service in a negative, rigid or indifferent manner (Maslach & Jackson, 1981; Zellars, Perrewe, & Hochwarter, 1999). Lower personal accomplishment, on the other hand, is defined as relatively losing the feelings of being successful and adequately qualified (Maslach, 1993: cited in Dierendock, Schaufeli, & Sixma, 1994) and believing that the efforts she/he has been making are in vain (Cordes & Dougherty, 1993; Cordes et al., 1997).

Despite the fact that this concept is used in many professions, the risk of experience burnout is mostly seen in the professions such as education, health and social work, where vis-à-vis relationship is required. Thus, many of the related studies have been carried out with staff in these professional fields (Akçamete, Kaner, & Sucuoglu, 2001; Bejerot, 2005; Cam, 2001; Çetinkanat, 2002; Chamber of Turkish Physicians, 2005; Doyle & Hind, 1998; Ergin, 1993; Neumann & Neumann, 1991).

The results of the research (see, e.g., Maslach & Leiter, 1997) demonstrate that burnout is caused by the employees thus, it is not proper to focus only on the individual; the problem of establishing a harmonious relationship between the employee and his/her work environment plays a big role in causing burnout in the individual. The relationships among job satisfaction, stress, the job environment and organizational climate are especially important with respect to burnout.

There are many definitions of job satisfaction in the literature. Herzberg (1959) cited in Hall (2003) states that job satisfaction is realized when the expectations and aspirations of the individual are met by his/her job. On the other hand, according to Davis (1982), job satisfaction occurs when the features of the job and the desires of the persons performing the job meet one another. Herzberg and Davis emphasize the importance of the needs and desires of the persons performing the jobs.

According to the motivation-hygiene theory of Herzberg, the factors which play an important role in job satisfaction comprise two groups. The factors in the first group are called motivating factors (intrinsic factors). These factors – success, recognition, appreciation, taking responsibility, the possibilities for advancement – are related to the job itself (Davis, 1982). The factors in the second group are called hygienic factors (extrinsic factors or situation protectors) and are related to the environment of the job and its conditions. Working conditions, organizational policies, supervision and interpersonal relationships are included in this group (Brief, 1998; Hampton, 1972; Herr & Cramer, 1996; Herzberg, 1972; Zunker, 1994). In this context the factors Herzberg considers to be related to job satisfaction are also true for academics. Academics have to work harder to fulfill the gradually increasing expectations not only of themselves but also of the institution. The efficiency of academics is adversely affected because the number of the students is too great, and the density of the interaction is too high because the teacher has to give repeated explanations of the same questions posed by different students – which causes burnout. Studies conducted with academics provide information about the causes of burnout and job dissatisfaction, which in return provides the guidelines to increase professional efficiency.

In the literature there are studies conducted either on burnout (Bilici, Mete, Soylu, Bekaroglu, & Kavakçi, 1998; Byrne, 1991; Çam, 2001; Doyle & Hind, 1998; Karlidag, Ünal, & Yologlu, 2000) or on the job satisfaction of academics (Bas & Ardiç, 2002; Bilge, Akman, & Kelecioglu, 2005; Güçray, 1994; Kelecioglu, Bilge, & Akman, 2005; Kiliç, 2002; Manning & Avolio, 1985; Pearson & Seiler, 1983; Tack & Patitu, 1993; Togia, Koustelios, & Tsigilis, 2004). However, a great many of these studies have been conducted with academics working in the field of health.

The studies conducted on the relationship between job satisfaction and burnout are fewer in number (Çam, 2001; Çetinkanat, 2002; Neumann & Neumann, 1991). One of the important findings of these studies is that job satisfaction is the best predictor of burnout. In addition, the pressure of the job, marital status, academic status, colleague and administrator support, and the manner of communication are also factors which are important. The current research aimed to identify the factors which predict the burnout of academics working in science/engineering and social sciences at state universities in Ankara.

METHOD

STUDY GROUP

This research was conducted with 194 academics working in the Ankara state universities, Turkey. Of the group, 39.7% were male; 60.3% female; 51.5% married and 48.5% single. The age range of the academics was 41 (22-63) years and duration of service (seniority) varied between 1-40 years. Their distribution with respect to their positions was 38.7% lecturers (assistant, associate and full professors), 19.6% instructors, 41.8% research assistants. There were 70.1% of the academics who stated that they had not been abroad for academic purposes.

INSTRUMENTS

In this research the Maslach Burnout Inventory (Maslach, Jackson, & Leiter, 1996), the Job Satisfaction Scale for Academicians (Kelecioglu et al., 2005), and a personal information form were used.

Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) This is a Likert-type (1 through 7) scale with 22 items developed by Maslach and Jackson in 1981. In the scale there are dimensions measuring emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and personal accomplishment. The fact that the scores obtained from the subtests of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization are high and the scores from the personal accomplishment subtest are low demonstrates that burnout level is very high.

According to the results of the reliability studies of the MBI, the coefficients of internal consistency are as follows: .90 for emotional exhaustion, .79 for depersonalization, .71 for personal accomplishment. The test-retest coefficients of the scale are as follows: between .59-.80 for emotional exhaustion; .54-.72 for depersonalization; .57-.80 for personal accomplishment (Maslach et al., 1996).

The coefficients of internal consistency for Turkey are as follows: .83 for emotional exhaustion, .65 for depersonalization, .72 for personal accomplishment. The test-retest coefficients of the scale are as follows: .83 for emotional exhaustion; .72 for depersonalization; .67 for personal accomplishment. In the construct validity of the Turkish version of the scale, the items have been distributed mainly around three factors as in the original form (Ergin, 1993).

Meier (1984) and Pretorius (1994) state that the MBI reliably measures the burnout of academics. The studies in Turkey demonstrate the validity and reliability of the MBI (Bilici et al., 1998; Çetinkanat, 2002).

The Job Satisfaction Scale for Academicians (JSSA) Kelecioglu et al. (2005) developed the JSSA based on Herzberg’s two-factor theory. The scale has two dimensions; intrinsic and extrinsic. The JSSA has 25 items; the intrinsic subscale consists of 14, the extrinsic subscale of 11 items. The questionnaire has Porter-type questions, which start with a statement regarding an aspect of the respondent’s job. Two options (a and b) follow this statement. Each option involves Likert-type responses (1 through 5). The answer to option “a” is driven from the answer to “b.” Smaller differences between “a” and “b” are indicative of greater degrees of job satisfaction.

Below are the results of reliability testing, confirmatory and explanatory factor analyses (construct validity). Item-scale correlations ranged between .59 and .77 (p

Results of reliability tests were as follow: Cronbach’s alpha coefficients for internal consistency were .94 for the intrinsic dimension, and .91 for the extrinsic dimension. Split-half correlations were .88 for the intrinsic and .91 for the extrinsic dimension.

Personal Information Form In the information form developed for the purposes of this research, there were questions about the gender, age, marital status (married/single), academic status (professor, instructor, research assistant), and duration of service (seniority) of the participants. They were also asked whether or not they had been abroad not less than 3 months for academic purposes.

ANALYSIS OF THE DATA

Stepwise regression analysis was used to determine the factors that predict the burnout of academics (Tabachnick & Fidel, 2001). The intrinsic and extrinsic job satisfaction, gender, marital status, academic status, seniority and being abroad for academic purposes were considered as the predictor variables. The variables, except the satisfaction scores and seniority, were included in the research as dummy variables. As a result of the multicollinearity test, it is seen that the variance influation factors are below 5, which means there is not a multicollinearity test between the variables. After the examination of the residuals, it was found that there were no data which were unsuitable. The significance level was taken as 0.05.

RESULTS

PREDICTION OF EMOTIONAL EXHAUSTION

Table 1 below demonstrates the stepwise regression analysis carried out to predict the emotional exhaustion of academics. Both the intrinsic satisfaction and academic status (research assistant) variables explain 23% of the variance of the scores of emotional exhaustion. Extrinsic satisfaction, gender, marital status, seniority and being abroad variables are not included in the model. The t value (-7.489, p=0.00) obtained at the end of the analysis demonstrates that the level of intrinsic satisfaction to predict emotional exhaustion is significant. The most important predictor of emotional exhaustion scores is intrinsic satisfaction. The emotional exhaustion scores are found to increase as the level of intrinsic satisfaction scores decrease. In the research it was found that academic status (t=-2.183, p= 0.03) predicts emotional exhaustion significantly. The emotional exhaustion scores of research assistants were found to be lower than those of professors and instructors.

PREDICTION OF DEPERSONALIZATION

Table 2 below demonstrates the stepwise regression analysis carried out to predict the depersonalization of the academics. As seen in the table, both intrinsic satisfaction and gender (female) variables explain 11.8% of the variance in the depersonalization scores. Extrinsic satisfaction, marital status, academic status, seniority and being abroad variables were not included in the model. The t value (-3.91, p=0.000) obtained demonstrates that the level of intrinsic satisfaction to predict depersonalization is significant. The most important predictor of depersonalization scores is intrinsic satisfaction. The depersonalization scores were found to increase as the level of the intrinsic satisfaction scores decrease. In the research it was found that the gender of academics (f=-2.917, p=0.006) predicts depersonalization significantly. The depersonalization scores of the male academics were found to be higher than those of the female academics.

PREDICTION OF PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT

Table 3 below demonstrates the stepwise regression analysis carried out to predict the personal accomplishment of academics. As seen in the table, three of the variables – intrinsic satisfaction, extrinsic satisfaction and academic status (research assistant) – explain 11.2% of the variance in the personal accomplishment scores. Gender, marital status, seniority and being abroad variables are not included in the model. The most important predictor of personal accomplishment scores is intrinsic satisfaction. The t value (-3.5, p=0.001) obtained demonstrates that the level of intrinsic satisfaction to predict personal accomplishment is significant. The personal accomplishment scores were found to increase as the level of the intrinsic satisfaction scores decrease. The personal accomplishment scores increase as extrinsic satisfaction scores increase and vice versa (t= 2.496, p=0.013). Another finding obtained from the research is that the academic status (t=-2.514, p=0.013) predicts personal accomplishment significantly. The personal accomplishment scores of the research assistants were found to be lower than those of the professors and instructors.

DISCUSSION

In this research intrinsic job satisfaction of academics was the most significant predictor for the three factors of burnout. The research results are consistent with the results in the literature (Akman, Bilge, & Kelecioglu, 2006; Çam, 2001; Çetinkanat, 2002; Hampton, 1972; Neumann & Neumann, 1991; Oran, 1989). The job itself is more important for the academics than the conditions of the job. The academics who find their jobs meaningful, who find encouragement for their professional development, and who can assume responsibility for their jobs are more motivated to work and experience burnout less.

In the research it was found that the status of the academics predicted emotional exhaustion and personal accomplishment significantly. Research assistants experience emotional exhaustion and the feeling of lower personal accomplishment less than do professors and instructors. The research results, in general, demonstrate that younger people experience burnout more than do the middle-aged. However, the finding of this research should be evaluated taking the following into consideration: research assistants do not give lectures, thus their interactions with the students are not as numerous as those of academics giving lectures. Therefore, they may be experiencing burnout less than other academics. It must also be considered that research assistants are at the beginning of their professional development process, thus their experiences related to personal accomplishment are also fewer.

In the research it was found that the depersonalization level of male academics was higher than that of the female academics. Female academics, despite the fact that they work in similar conditions to male academics, are more resistant to depersonalization because they have different social roles and different values have been taught to them. More explicitly, despite the adversities they experience, female academics retain their sensitivity in interpersonal relationships and are more interested in their students. In addition, female academics better express their problems and receive more social support compared to male academics. Male academics, on the other hand, develop more expectations related to their personal adequacy, which may be considered as the cause of their higher depersonalization levels. In the literature there is a finding that individuals who are perfectionists with high expectation levels experience burnout much more intensely (Glagow, 1986; Tevruz, 1996). The reasons why the male academics experience depersonalization more than the female academics can be better understood when/if these findings are evaluated all together.

The related finding of the research demonstrates that the feeling of personal accomplishment decreases as the extrinsic satisfaction levels of the academics increase. Even the increase in the satisfaction related to work environment and working conditions does not make a positive change in their feelings of personal accomplishment. This finding once again shows that intrinsic factors are more important than extrinsic factors in the job satisfaction of academics.

It is suggested that further research should be carried out with comprehensive samples considering variables such as manager support, colleague support, organizational loyalty, the number of published articles and books, communication skills, and locus of control.

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FILIZ BILGE

Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey

Filiz Bilge, PhD, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey.

The author would like to thank Gonca Kiziltan, PhD, for her helpful suggestions.

Appreciation is due to reviewers including: Yasemin Akman, PhD, Hacettepe University, Beytepe, Ankara, Turkey, Email: akman@hacettepe.edu.tr; Hülya Kelecioglu, PhD, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Measurement and Evaluation, Hacettepe University, Beytepe, Ankara, Turkey, Email: hulyaebb@hacettepe.edu.tr; Hakan Yaman, PhD, Associate Professor of Family Medicine, Akdeniz University, 07059 Antalya, Turkey, Email: hakanyaman@akdeniz.edu.tr

Please address correspondence and reprint requests to: Filiz Bilge, PhD, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey. Phone: +90 312 297 8551; Fax: +90 312 299 2027; Email: fbllge@hacettepe.edu.tr

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