Burnout Contagion in Supervisor-Subordinate Dyads

Cody Logan Chullen

Abstract


Employee burnout has an extensive history in applied psychology, with decades of research and hundreds of studies examining both its antecedents and consequences (Cordes & Dougherty, 1993; Shirom, 1989; Taris, 2006).  Despite these advancements, and although theoretical models (Numerof, 1983; Perlman & Hartman, 1982) of burnout have cited the importance of supervisory behavior as a factor contributing to the deleterious effects of organizational role stressors, little empirical research has systematically measured supervisory burnout in relation to subordinate burnout.  Without a thorough understanding of the relationship between supervisor and subordinate burnout organizations may struggle to properly develop intervention strategies aimed at reducing and eliminating burnout within the workforce.  Drawing on emotional contagion theory (Hatfield, Cacioppo, & Rapson, 1994) and the interactional psychology framework (Schneider, 1983), this study proposes and tests a model articulating the processes by which supervisor burnout leads to subordinate burnout.  Utilizing a sample of 93 supervisor-subordinate dyads, results indicate that supervisor burnout influences subordinate burnout via the emotional contagion process and that subordinate susceptibility to emotional contagion serves as an important individual difference variable that moderates this relationship.  Implications for theory and practice as well as future directions are discussed.


Full Text: PDF DOI: 10.5430/bmr.v3n2p67

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Business and Management Research
ISSN 1927-6001 (Print)   ISSN 1927-601X (Online)

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