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Journal of Knowledge Globalization, Volume 5, Number 1, 2012

Organizational Role Stress: Impact of Manager and


Peer Support
Christo Fernandes
Goa Institute of Management
Goa, India
Kirti Tewari
Goa Institute of Management
Goa, India

Abstract
Occupational stress research emphasizes the need to assess the management of
work related stress. This paper investigated organizational role stress and the
various facets of social support practices exercised through peer, supervisor,
manager, family and friends. The sample includes 316 employees from a
number of organizations in the Indian software industry. Factor analysis on the
ten dimensions of role stress developed by Pareek (1983) was recognized as
Heterogeneous Stress, Contingent Stress and Inertia Stress. Regression
analysis revealed that social support influenced role stress factor. Results
further suggest that both peer support and managers' support directly
influenced role stress factors. The results of this study highlight the need for
congenial workplace support systems in the software industry. Implications
ahd suggestions for future research and limitations of the study are also
discussed.
Keywords: Social support, role stress, software industry, occupational stress.

Introduction
The workplace in the software industry typically experiences work overload
and strict deadlines. Moreover the work-life conflicts affect the effectiveness
of the employee as well as the organization. Individuals hold onto various
roles in the society as well as at work. The social role theory provides a
framework for understanding how conflict influences individuals as well as
organizational effectiveness (Dobreva-Martinova etal. 2002).

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Fernandes and Tewari: Organizational Role Stress.

Earlier research studies found that negative perceptions of organizational


effectiveness were correlated with low levels of team support and team work
(Valle & Witt 2001). On the other hand higher levels of family interference
can also lead to dissatisfaction, strain and psychological disorders. (Hammer
et al, 2004; Mikkelson and Burke, 2004).
Several organizations have reduced stress in their work environment through
initiatives such as supportive social systems (Cox and Flin, 1998). Hence the
perspectives have shifted to improving effectiveness and to reducing stress by
creating positive workplace communication including co-operation and
teamwork (Forster and Still, 2002; Ernst et al, 2004). Amidst a scenario of
acute shortage of skilled professionals, it is evident that there are increased
levels of work as well as difficulties in planning with pressing deadlines
because of competition which have contributed to the stress in software
professionals (Natarajan, 2000). The following research study attempts to
study the influence of social support in the software industry in India.
Software Industry in India
The Software industry in India has been a major player in global business and
has been instrumental in transforming the image of a slow moving economy.
The post liberalisation decade in the 199O's has led to deregulation that
allowed private sector participation, which led to intense competition and
restructuring of organizations. This has not only offered rapid growth but also
has made the industry overly competitive. The contributions of the IT industry
to India's GDP increased from 1.2 per cent in 1997-98 to 6.1 per cent in
2009-2010 (IBEF, 2011). The sector is estimated to have grown by 19 per
cent in the FY 2011, generating revenue of almost US$ 76 billion, and a
growth of approximately 16% with respect to FY2010 (IBEF, 2011).
IT Industry Workforce and Stress
The workforce in the Indian IT industry continues a rapid growth and it is
expected to reach 30 million (IBEF, 2011) by 2020 .This workforce industry
faces unique challenges. Using data from Indian organizations, Rajeswari and
Anantharaman (2005) recognized that software professionals have long work
hours with different time zones, high interdependency in teams, tasks to be
completed within tight timelines with perfection as per client needs and
extensive interactions with clients. These characteristics lead to occupational
stress.
In another study, Rajeswari and Anantharaman (2003) found that stress among
software professionals in India resulted from fear of obsolescence and
indi vidual-team interactions. Negative pressure explained two thirds of the

Journal of Knowledge Globalization, Volume 5, Number 1, 2012

variance in stress. The other factors identifled were client interactions, workfamily interface, role overload, work culture, technical constraints, family
support towards career, workload and technical risk propensity.
Stress and the negative outcomes of stress have been recognized as costly for
organizations. Negative outcomes of job stress among individuals include
illness, decline in overall quality of work, job dissatisfaction, absenteeism, and
staff turnover (Schwab, 1996). Stress experienced by software professionals
also leads to attrition. Attrition in IT Industry in India is approximately 15%
(Economic Times, 2011). Managing stress has become a focal point for
managers in the IT industry who are challenged by this high attrition rate.

Review of Literature
Role Stress
Organizational roles constitute the basic human resources (HR) infrastructure
on which the success of HR systems and process depends (Srivastav, 2006).
According to Pareek (2004), membership of an organization and the concept
of an organizational role have built-in potential for stress. Stress due to
occupation of a role in an organization is known as Organizational Role Stress.
In the role behavior of an individual, several variables are involved:
a)
b)
c)
d)
e)
f)

the self
the other roles (role senders)
the expectations by the other roles
expectations by the self
other role expectations by the self and
other roles under-taken and performed by the individual.

The nature of organizational roles has built-in potentials for conflict and
stress. So stress is a natural variable in role performance. While performing
several roles or within one's role, a person may find that, he or she is not
steering to the desired goals. The consequence of which is disillusionment,
frustration, tension, conflict and stress.

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Fernandes and Tewari: Organizational Role Stress

Role Stress- across Professions


The stress experienced by people in different occupations has been discussed
in various studies. Some ofthe occupations identified as having above average
level of stress are teachers (Travers and Cooper, 1993), healthcare
professionals (Cooper et al, 1999), nurses and social workers (Kahn, 1993),
employees providing ambulance service (Young and Cooper, 1999) etc.
An employee is vulnerable particularly to work related Stressors by virtue of
being in the specific occupation. Orpen (1991) observed that the major source
of stress is derived from the occupational environment. Proponents of this
view tend to argue that role holders in certain occupations, irrespective of
individual differences, are much more likely to experience stress. Different
occupations have different basic Stressors e.g., though both- IT Teachers and
IT-Professionals require similar educational qualifications, the stress
experienced by them is different (Ugale and Ghatule, 2011). Due to tight
timelines, long working hours and heavy work overloads, the stress
experienced by IT-professionals is greater as compared to the stress levels of
IT-teachers. Also Kahn's (1993) work suggests that caregivers (for example,
nurses and social workers) are more likely to suffer from emotional
exhaustions because they need to display intense emotions in their jobs. The
basic Stressors identified for police personnel is the threat of violence, for
nurses the display of intense emotions, for call center employees the lack of
control and odd working hours, and for teachers and software professionals it
is the work overload.
The individual factors that increase susceptibility to stress among employees
are personality traits, career goals and previous experience. The amount of
social support and stress experienced by the individuals outside of work also
plays a role (Edwards, 1992). Hence, it can be inferred that stress experienced
by an employee is not only a function of the occupation. It is a result of the
interactions of a number of factors such as the social support from peers,
supervisor, managers, ftiends, family, the personality traits like coping
mechanisms an individual uses (e.g. seeking sympathy, discussing problems
etc.), career goals and experience etc. to deal with stress.

Social Support
Researchers have defined social support in different ways. Cobb (1976)
defined social support as 'the individual belief that one is cared for and loved,
esteemed and valued, and belongs to a network of communication and mutual
obligations'. House ( 1981) described four main categories of social support
eg. a) emotional, b) appraisal, c) informational and d) instrumental. House and

Journal of Knowledge Globalization, Volume 5, Number 1, 2012

Kahn (1985) described social support as 'the functional content of


relationships, such as the degree to which the relationships involve flows of
affect or emotional concern, instrumental or tangible aid and information' ().
According to Vaux (1988), social support means sympathy, and emotional
caring (while it can. also be seen as a combination of emotional and
instrumental support (Beehr 1995). It was also found that there is a high level
of inter-correlation between instrumental and emotional facets (Fenlasen &
Beehr, 1994). From the above definitions it is clear that researchers do not
have consensus on the definition of social support. Some researchers have
emphasised the 'emotional' aspect of social support. while others have
incorporated 'instrumental' and 'informational' aspects of social support.
There are two postulates with respect to the role of social support:
a) Buffer Effect - that social support is effective only during stressful events;
and
b) Main Effect - that social support influences behavior and well-being in nonstressful situations as well.
The 'main effect' suggests that social support is beneficial regardless of the
level of stress that a person experiences while the 'buffering effect' postulates
that in significant stress situations, an individual with strong social support
will be protected from developing stress related outcomes as compared to an
individual who has weak social support (Cohen and Wills, 1985)
Hence, social support can either have a primary role in psychological
wellbeing, or it can be considered as a buffer against adverse job features.
Some researchers have concluded that social support operates as a buffer or
exercises a direct effect against the effects of occupational stress, (Osseiran et
al, 1994; Frese, 1999; Johnson et al., 1996). Others have concluded that there
is no evidence of the buffering effect of social support (La Rocco & Jones,
1978; Ganster et al., 1986; King et al 1998; Wade & Kendler, 2000). Some of
the studies have also found evidence of a reverse buffering effect (Glaser et al,
1999; Kaufman & Beehr, 1986). However many leading researchers like
Beehr et al (2003) emphasized that the impact of social support is not clear.
They concluded that the research results of the impact of social support are
weak and inconsistent.
Haly (2009) reviewed 45 cross-sectional studies and 17 longitudinal studies
done between 1999 and 2009 in the area of social support. The majority of
cross-sectional and longitudinal studies demonstrated that social support has a
main effect or buffering effect on a range of outcomes. Haly also found that
the evidence for a buffering effect for social support was much more

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Fernandes and Tewari: Organizational Role Stress

ambiguous than for social support having a main effect. However, the
magnitude of the effect for social support mitigating psychological distress
varied across studies.
Stress and Social Support within an Organization
Managerial Support
A review of existing literature reveals that rnanagerial behavior is an important
determinant of employee stress levels. Managers play a significant role in
causing or preventing stress by their behavior towards their staff (Tepper,
2000; Hogan, Curphy & Hogan, 1994). Moreover, managers' behavior is
likely to impact the presence or absence of psycho-social hazards (e.g. high
demand and low job control) in the working environment (van Dierendonck et
al., 2004; Chemiss, 1995). Research also indicates that relationships between
psycho-social hazards and wellbeing are quite complex and may be affected
by manager's behavior. (Neilsen et al., 2006), so if an individual suffers from
stress, his/her manager should be involved in designing and implementing
solutions (Thomson et al. 2003) and managers hold the keys to work redesign
initiatives (Saksvik et al., 2002).
Numerous management behaviors have been linked to employee wellbeing
and the reduction of stress. This particularly includes individualized
consideration, fair treatment, acting with integrity, empowerment,
development, participative approach, feedback, managing workload and
conflict, communication, etc.
Supervisor Support
Several recent studies focused on evaluating the impact of support received
from supervisors and colleagues (Brough & Frame2004; Pears 2004).
Supervisor's social support has been identified as alleviating the negative
consequences of occupational stress across a variety of job contexts. For
example, Schirmer and Lopez (2001) studied the impact of supervisor support
on occupational stress in a sample of 250 US university employees. It was
found that the perception of support from supervisors significantly reduced
reported levels of psyehological strain.
The present study focuses on Indian software companies in the services
domain. There is an ambiguity in the differentiation of the roles and
responsibilities of supervisors versus managers, i.e there is no clear
demarcation of different roles and responsibilities in the software industry. A
supervisor or a team leader in a software company typically has 5-6 developers
reporting to him/her and is responsible for looking aiter their immediate work

Journal of Knowledge Globalization, Volume 5, Number 1, 2012

so that the deliverables assigned are completed on time. A manager on the


other hand has a relatively larger role in the sense that he/she is answerable to
the client, has to ensure that the project is profitable to the company, looks into
the grievances of the employees, decides on requests like change in worklocation etc.
Peer Support
Co-worker's social support has been defined as co-workers' willingness to
help one another (e.g., caring, friendly, warm relation, empathy, cooperation,
appreciation, respect) in performing daily tasks and handling of difficult
situations to create healthy environments in the workplace ; Frone et al., 1992;
Mansor et al., 2003; Matteson and Ivancevich, 2003; Simpson, 2000).
Maslach et al. (2001) differentiated between the effects from the lack of peers'
social support from and the lack of supervisors' support. They found that the
lack of support from supervisors is more strongly linked to negative
psychological state than the lack of support from peers. A cyclical relationship
may exist; workers who have de-personalized their work relationships may
consequently receive lower performance review which in turn may create an
unpleasant encounter and increased sfress, hence increasing the likelihood of
burnout and further de-personalization.
Stress and Social Support outside the Organization
Family and Friend Support
The previous discussions of social support focused on support from within the
organization, however, the support from outside the organization (e.g., from
family members, friends outside the organization) is another source to be
considered. Psychological and emotional support from family and friends
outside of the organization has been shown to mediate the harmful effects of
job stress (Abelson, 1987). Also, when the role pressures from work and home
domains are incompatible, some people experience role conflicts between
work and home (Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985).
Studies have shown inconsistent results related to the effects of work stress on
work interference with family conflict in the presence of peer support (Allen et
al., 2000; Fu and Shaffer, 2001). Peer's social siipport and work interference
with family conflict are highly interrelated (Goldsen and Scharlach, 2001) e.g.
the level of job stress will not interfere and create employees family conflicts
if peers are present to provide sufficient emotional and informational support.
As a result, support from peers may control job interference in employees'

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Fernandes and Tewari: Organizational Role Stress

family affairs and increase their abilities to perform family obligations and
hence help reduce the stress.
Empirical Study Variables
Some of the important variables that appear currently in the study of
organizational stress are listed below (Pareek, 2005):
Inter-Role Distance Stress (IRDS) is the experience when there is a
conflict between organizational and non-organizational roles.
Role Stagnation Stress (RS) is the feeling of being stuck in the same role
Role expectation stress (REC) arises out of conflicting demands
originating from colleagues i.e. superiors, subordinates and peers in the
organizations.
Role Erosion Stress (RE) arises when a role occupant feels that others are
performing certain functions, which should have been a part of his role.
Role Overload Stress (RO) is the feeling that one is required to do too
much in his present role. It arises also when a person feels that rather than
being integrated with other organizational roles, his role is isolated from
the mainstream of organizational life.
Role Inadequacy Stress (PI) is depicted by the absence of adequate skills,
competence and training to meet the demands of one's roles.
Self-Role Distance Stress (SRD) arises from a gap experienced between
one's concept of self and the demands ofthe role.
Role Ambiguity Stress (RA) is experienced when there is a lack of clarity
about the demands ofthe role.
Resource Inadequacy Stress (RIn) arises when the human and material
resources allocated are inadequate to meet6 the demands ofthe role.
Role Isolation Stress (RIS) arises when certain types of organizational or
work related roles isolate an individual from the rest.

Journal of Knowledge Globalization, Volume 5, Number 1, 2012

In addition to the above, the social support variables, namely, emotional,


appraisal, informational and instrumental (House, 1981)) that have been
studied are Peer Support variable - social support received by employees from peers.
Supervisor Support variable - social support received by employees from
supervisor.
Manager Support variable - social support received by employees from
manager.
Friend Support variable - social support received by employees from
friends outside the organization.
Family Support variable - social support received by employees from
family.
Hypotheses:
Based on the above discussion, we hypothesize that social supports help
reduce organizational role stress as follows
HI: Social Support helps to reduce Heterogeneous Stress
H2: Social Support helps to reduce Contingent Stress
H3: Social Support helps to reduce Inertia Stress

Study Design
We have designed this research as a cross-sectional study.
Method of Investigation
Data used in this study are from a non-random sample of 316 software
professionals working in various IT companies operating in India. Since it was
desirable to gather responses from software professionals of different IT
companies, the questionnaire was circulated online. The software professionals
were reached through personal contacts and also through the heads of several
IT companies. The minimum target set for completed questionnaire was 269
to ensure 90% confidence interval and 5% error level. A total of 354
completed forms were received from software engineers, team leaders, quality
analysts, associate managers and managers, out of which 316 (89.26%) were
found usable for the final analysis.

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Fernandes and Tewari: Organizational Role Stress

Tools
The questionnaire comprises of Pareek's (1983) Organizational Role Stress
(ORS) Construct (50 questions) along with demographic and social support
variables. This ten-component scale gives an index of individuals' perceived
role stress on the ten dimensions. The questionnaire used to capture the
organizational role stress and th social support received is attached as
Annexure to the paper. ORS has been amply tested for validity and reliability
by various researchers in the past. Sen (1981) calculated the validity of the
questionnaire by measuring the self-consistency of the instrument. He
correlated each item with the total score on the instrument for about 500
respondents. All except two correlations were significant at .001 levels; one at
.002 levels and another at .008 levels. Hence the result shows high internal
consistency of the scale. This construct validity of the instrument has also been
tested by factor analysis and it has been found fairly acceptable by its
statistical norms (Sen, 1981). The test-retest reliability coefficients were also
found to be significant.
The social support received by the software professionals was also captured by
the. questionnaire. Researchers in the past have measured social support
variables using a 5 point Likert scale with, statements such as 'I receive
support from my peers in the organization', 'I receive support from my
supervisor', 'I receive support from my manager,' 'I receive support from my
friends outside organization', 'I receive support from my family' etc.
We measured social support, based on a single item. Though it is difficult to
establish reliability and validity of such a measure, the use of a single iteni
measure in social sciences and management literature is not uncommon.
Research studies have used single item measures for important variables in
the past (Rastogi, 1978; Sharma 1987; Parker & Decotiis, 1983). A copy of the
questionnaire is shown in the Appendix.

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Journal of Knowledge Globalization, Volume 5, Number 7; 2012

Results
Data Analysis
The data were analyzed to study the impact of social support on the
organizational role stress experienced by the software professionals in India.
Table 1 presents the sample profile.

Table 1: Characteristics of tbe Sample

Variables
Gender

Age (S.D. 4.15 years)

Company type and


number of employees

Work Experience

Categories

Average
(years)

Male
Female
Total

Number of
Software
Professionals
222
94
316

%
70.25
29.75
100

185
106
25
316

58.54
33.54
7.91
100

Indian

214

67.72

Multinational
Total

102
316

32.28
100.00

<=25 years
25-30 years
>=30 years
Total

23.52
26.68
38.47
25.93

<=2 years

1.74

35

11.08

2-5 years
>=5 years
Total

3.63
7.28
4.93

150
131
316

47.47
41.46
100

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Fernandes and Tewari: Organizational Role Stress

For the present study, the Cronbach's Alpha for various dimensions are shown
in Table 2
Table 2: Subscale Reliability
S.No.
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

Dimensions
IRD
RS
REC
RE
RO
RI
PI
SRD
RA
RIN

No. of items
5
5
5
5
5
5
5
5
5
5

Cronbach's Alpha
0.788
0.787
0.787
0.701
0.794
0.770
0.792
0.728
0.839
0.717

As the alpha values for all the dimensions are greater than 0.7, all the
subscales corresponding to 10 dimensions are reliable.

Factor analysis was conducted on the 10 dimensions of role stress. For none of
the dimensions, the significance level of the majority of the values is greater
than .05. Also, all the dimensions of role stress correlated fairly well and none
of the Pearson correlation coefficient between all pairs of dimensions was
particularly large. Hence, there was no need to eliminate any stress dimension
at this level. Also, the determinant value found from the correlation matrix of
SPSS factor analysis output is .001 which was much greater than the necessary
value of 0.00001. Since the determinant value was well within the acceptable
range; multicollinearity was not a problem for the collected data (Table 3 and
Table 4).

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Journal of Knowledge Globalization, Volume 5, Number 1, 2012

Table 3: Correlation Matrix


Correlation
IRD
RS
REC
RE
RO
RI
PI
SRD
RA
RIN

IRD
1.000
.578
.572
.292
.643
.412
.398
.487
.455
.525

RS
1.000
.611
.538
.582
.639
.564
.735
.607
.574

REC

RE

RO

RI

PI

SRD

RA

RIN

1.000
.443
.624
.652
.614
.661
.698
.652

1.000
.252
.582
.392
.604
.565
.432

1.000
.551
.460
.549
.517
.580

1.000
.584
.709
.734
.688

1.000
.637
.635
.575

1.000
.795
.661

1.000
.712

1.000

a Determinant = .001
Dimensions of Role Stress
The factor analysis (varimax rotation) revealed three dimensions explaining
78.167 % of the total variance as given in Table 4.
Table 4: Rotated Component Matrix
Component
2 (Contingent 3(Inertia
1 (Heterogeneous
Stress)
Stress)
Stress)
PI
.821
RA
.751
RIn
.709
RI
.672
REC
.658
SRD
.628
.545
IRD
.887
RO
.783
RS
.550
.546
RE
.914
Method:
Varimax
Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis .Rotation
with Kaiser Normalization Rotation converged in 6 iterations.

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Fernandes and Tewari: Organizational Role Stress

The first factor consists of diverse stress dimensions. Hence, this factor could
be named as heterogeneous stress. The second factor pertains to stress
dimensions which are not always experienced and is dependent on the
situation. Therefore, the second factor can be named as contingent stress. The
third factor is related to the stress experienced when one feels to have got
stuck with a role which is distant to the self and which does not allow the
person to exhibit his/her strengths. Hence, this factor can be named as Inertia
Stress.
Factor 1 (Heterogeneous Stress)
Role Ambiguity (RA) is experienced by software professional when he/she is
not clear about the various expectations that the supervisor, peers, clients etc.
have from him/her. Role ambiguity may be in relation to activities,
responsibilities, priorities, norms or general expectation. In the absence of
clarity of the role to be performed, software professionals may have to face the
conflicting demands of peers, supervisor, managers and clients and hence
experience Role Expectation Conflict (REC). RA and REC could be
experienced when software professionals are assigned new roles without
adequate preparation or orientation. Assignment of new projects, roles and
responsibilities in a short time span is all pervasive in the dynamic software
industry.
The success of an individual in a new project also depends on technical and
interpersonal skills of the employee. PI is experienced by a role occupant
when the role occupant feels that he/she does not have enough skills,
knowledge or training to undertake the role effectively.
The success of the employee also depends on the different resources available
to him/her. Resource Inadequacy (RIn) is felt when the resources to perform
the role effectively are not available. Also, when a software professional is
assigned a new project or a different role (development, maintenance, testing,
quality analysis etc.) in the same project, he/she might have to make new
linkages which take time i.e. the gap between existing and desired linkages to
perform the role effectively would be high, hence, the software professional is
likely to experience Role Isolation (RI) Stress too. RI refers to psychological
distance between the occupant's role and other roles in the same role set. The
frequency and cause of interaction among the roles is a measure of the strength
of the linkage among the roles. The combination of all the mentioned diverse
stresses can be named as Heterogeneous Stress.

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Journal of Knowledge Globalization, Volume 5, Number 1, 2012

Factor 2 (Contingent Stress)


A software professional is loaded with work when the project is about to 'go
live' or when the project has just 'got live' and lots of bugs need to be fixed in
short time interval. Also, when a software professional is not assigned any
project and hence is on the bench, he/she has no work load. Hence we can say
that the stress arising out of Role Overload (RO) is situation specific and is
therefore Contingent Stress.
When a person occupies more than one role, the conflicting demands of
different roles can result in stress. . However, the magnitude of conflict is
situation specific e.g. a new mother who is an executive may face high degree
of conflict (and hence IRD) between her organizational role and her familial
role as a wife and a mother. So we can say that the magnitude of inter role
stress (IRD) is not the same always and is contingent on situation. Inter-role
distance (IRD) is different than RI in the sense that, IRD refers to the distance
among various roles occupied by the same individual. The combination of RO
and IRD can be termed dts Contingent Stress.
Factor 3 (Inertia Stress)
When the role of a person goes against his/her self-concept, then he/she feels
self-role distance type of stress. This essentially is a conflict arising out of a
mismatch between the person and his job.
The software professional who works in quality analysis may consider
himself/herself a better programmer than a QA which may lead to SRD stress.
He/she may perceive that coding (the role occupant perceives it as important)
to be performed by him/her is being performed by other. This may make the
role occupant feel that his/her role has eroded (RE). RE is a function of the
role occupant's feeling that some functions, which belong to his role, are
transferred to, or performed by some other role.
The software professional in such a scenario may also feel that he/she does not
have time and opportunities to prepare for the future challenges of the new or
existing role. This may lead to role stagnation (RS) stress. RS results into the
perception that there is no opportunity for one's career progression. The
combination of SRD, RE and RS can be termed as Inertia Stress.

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Fernandes and Tewari: Organizational Role Stress

Organizational Role Stress and Social Support


Based on the above analysis we propose the relationships as shown in
Figure 1.

SOCIAL SUPPORT FACTORS

ROLE STRESS

Peer Support
Supervisor Support
Manager Support

Heterogeneous Stress
Contingent Stress

Friends Support

Inertia Stress
Family Support

Figure 1: Tbe proposed relationships


The Multiple Regression Analysis was performed keeping the 3 factors as
dependent variables and social support variables as independent variables.
As seen in Table 5, the independent social support variables explain 10.3
percent variance in Total Role Stress. The regression model was found to be
significant. Social Support fi-om peers and social support from managers was
found to be significantly infiuencing total role stress. Both support from peers
and support from managers reduced the Organizational Role Stress. Support
from managers reduced total stress more (standardized = -0.283) as
compared to support from peers (standardized = -0.127).

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Journal of Knowledge Globalization, Volume 5, Number 1, 2012

Table 5: Regression Summary


Heterogeneous Stress
R Square

Contingent Stress

.108

Inertia Stress

Total Role Stress

.033

.020

.103

Beta Coefficient
Support
Factors
Peers

UnStd

Std

Unstd

Std

unStd

std

UnStd

Std

-0.257**

-0.240**

-0.027

-0.025

0.116

0.108

4.353*

-0.127*

Supervisor

0.064

0.059

-0.018

-0.017

0.014

0.013

1.518

0.044

Manager

-.204**

-.207**

-.086

-0.087

-.188**

0.190**

8.946**

-0.283**

Friends

0.079

0.076

-0.000

0.000

0.018

0.071

2.043

0.062

Family

0.002

0.001

0.133

0.117

0.058

0.051

3.187

0.088

*p<0.05 **p<0.01

HI: Social Support helps to reduce Heterogeneous Stress


The independent social support variables explain 10.8 percent variance in
Heterogeneous Stress. The regression model was found to be significant.
Social support from peers and social support from managers have been found
to significantly influence Heterogeneous Stress. The support from both peers
and managers reduced the Heterogeneous Stress. Hence, the hypothesis is
accepted. Support from peers reduced heterogeneous stress marginally more
(standardized = -0.240) as compared to support from managers (standardized
= -0.207). The findings are in line with earlier research studies that have
noticed improvement in the effectiveness and reduction of stress by creating
positive workplace communication, teamwork and co-operation (Cox and Flin,
1998, Forster and Still, 2002; Ernst et ai, 2004). According to Schaufeli and
Enzmann (1998), peers have the potential to provide almost all types of social
support (appraisal, emotional, instrumental and informational support) and
therefore might be helpful in preventing stress.

18
Fernandes and Tewari: Organizational Role Stress

H2: Social Support helps to reduce Contingent Stress


The independent social support variables explain only 2.0 percent variance in
Contingent Stress. Also, the regression model was not found to be significant.
Hence, the hypothesis is rejected. None of the social support variables have
been found to be significantly influencing Contingent Stress.
H3: Social Support helps to reduce Inertia Stress
The independent social support variables explain only 3.3 percent variance in
Inertia Stress. Also, the regression model was not found to be significant.
Hence, the hypothesis is rejected.
From the Total Role Stress Regression Model, it can be inferred that
managerial support followed by peer support has a mitigating effect on
Organizational Role Stress experienced by the software professionals. From
the Heterogeneous Stress Regression Model, Contingent Stress Regression and
Inertia Stress Regression Model, it is clear that social support variables
significantly explain maximum variance of the Heterogeneous Stress. Also,
manager support and peer support have a mitigating effect on Heterogeneous
Stress.
Conclusion
The present study has several implications. First, it draws attention to the
significance of social support exercised by managers and peers in the
software industry in India on organizational role stress factors. Manager's
setting of expectations could eliminate RA and REC, the two forms of
Heterogeneous stress. Support from managers can help to mitigate RIn and
RI too. This recognition would presumably enhance manager's ability to
develop appropriate strategies to address and reduce role stress in the
software industry. Providing support for stress would not only deal with the
after-effects but it would be much more effective for managers to prevent the
stress altogether by taking proactive steps e.g. by setting clearer expectations
and providing frequent feedback. Second, the study suggests that the
employees' pereeived manager support and peer support are of immense
value. Proactive actions, such as investment of financial resources to train
and select managers with stress management and project management skills,
and to reach out to employees and support them appropriately mitigate stress
experieneed by software professionals. Peers in the industry could be offered
similar training that would enhanee an environment of trust and
dependability.

19
Journal of Knowledge Globalization, Volume 5, Number 1, 2012

This study has a number of limitations. First, the study relies on the use of a
self-reported data. Second, the selection of organizations and respondents was
not random limiting the generalizability of the conclusions. Finally, this study
investigated only the effects of social support i.e. peer, supervisors, managers,
family and friends and did not consider other factors influencing stress.
Several areas of research for further study have been identified. Firstly, a
comparison between different organizations such as public and private sector
companies and also multi-national and indigenous companies in terms of the
perceived role stress would offer further insights. Second, the study of the
impact of demographic variables, as well as other factors such as citizenship
and social responsibility would be of interest.

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Appendix1
ORS and Social Support Questionnaire
1. THE ORS INSTRUMENT AND ITS ADMINISTRATION
The organizational role stress (ORS) scale is used to measure 10 role stresses,
i.e. inter-role distance, role stagnation, role expectation conflict, role erosion,
role overload, role isolation, personal inadequacy, self-role distance, role
ambiguity and resource inadequacy. ORS is a five - point scale (0 to 4),
containing five items for each role stress and a total of 50 statements. Thus the
total scores on each role stress range from 0 to 20. Responses are to be given
on an answer sheet.
2. SCORING
The answer sheet is also used for scoring. The total scores on each role stress
range from 0 to 20. To get the total scores for each role stress, the ratings
given are totalled horizontally (for five items). The 10 rows, respectively, rate
the following

Row

Stress

Inter-role distance (IRD)

Role stagnation (RS)

Role expectation conflict (REC)

Role erosion (RE)

Role overload (RO)

Role isolation (RI)

Personal inadequacy (PI)

Self-role distance (SRD)

Role ambiguity (RA)

10

Resource inadequacy (RIn)

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Journal of Knowledge Globalization, Volume 5, Number 1,2012

3. ANSWERING GUIDELINES
Read instructions carefully before responding.
People have different feelings about their roles. Statements describing some of
them are given below. Read each statement.and indicate how often you have
the feeling expressed in the statement in relation to your role in the
organization. Select a radio button (online form) to indicate your own feelings.
If you find that the category to be used in answering does not adequately
indicate your own feelings, use the one which is closest to the way you feel.
Do not leave any item unanswered. The categories used are
You never or rarely feel this way.
You occasionally (a few times) feel
this way.
You sometimes feel this way.
You frequently feel this way.
You very frequently or always feel
this way.
Note: The above statements were coded as 0,
1,2,3,4.
4. ORS QUESTIONNAIRE
1. My role tends to interfere with my family life.
2. I am afraid I am not learning enough in my present role for taking up
higher responsibility.
3. I am not able to satisfy the conflicting demands of various people
above me.
4. My role has recently been reduced in importance.
5. My workload is too heavy.
6. Other role occupants do not give enough attention and time to my
role.
7. I do not have adequate knowledge to handle the responsibilities in my
role.
8. I have to do things, in my role, that are against my better judgment.
9. I am not clear on the scope and responsibilities of my role (job).
10. I do not get the information needed to carry out responsibilities
assigned to me.
11. I have various other interests (social, religious, etc.) which remain neglected
because I do not get time to attend to these.
12. I am too preoccupied with my present role responsibilities to be able
to prepare for taking up higher responsibilities.

26
Fernandes and Tewari: Organizational Role Stress

13. I am not able to satisfy the conflicting demands of my peers and


juniors.
14. Many functions that should be a part of my role have been assigned to
some other role.
15. The amount of work I have to do interfere with the quality I want to
maintain.
16. There is not enough interaction between my role and other roles.
17.1 wish I had more skills to handle the responsibilities of my role.
18. I am not able to use my training and expertise in my i-ole.
19. I do not know what the people I work with expect of me.
20. I do not get enough resource to be effective in my role.
21. My role does not allow me enough time for my family.
22. I do not have time and opportunities to prepare myself for the future
challenges of my role.
23. I am not able to satisfy the demands of clients and others, since these
are conflicting with one another.
24. I would like to take on more responsibility than I am handling at
present.
25. I have been given too much responsibility.
26. I wish there was more consultation between my role and others' roles
27. I have not had the right training for my role.
28. The work I do in the organization is not related to my interests.
29. Several aspects of my role are vague and unclear.
30. I do not have enough people to work with me in my role.
31. My organizational responsibilities interfere with my extra
organizational roles.
32. There is very little scope for personal growth in my role.
33. The expectations of my seniors conflict with those of my juniors.
34. I can do much more than what I have been assigned.
35. There is a need to reduce some parts of my role.
36. There is no evidence of several roles (including mine) being involved
in joint problem solving or collaboration for planning action.
37. I wish I had prepared myself well for my role.
38. If I had full freedom to define my role, I would be doing some things
differently from the way I do them now.
39. My role has not been defined clearly and in detail.
40. I am rather worried that I lack the necessary facilities needed in my
role.
41. My family and friends complain that I do not spend time with them
due to the heavy demands of my work role.
42. I feel stagnant in my role.

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Journal of Knowledge Globalization, Volume 5, Number 1, 2012

43. I am bothered with the contradictory expectations different people


have from my role.
44. I wish I had been given more challenging tasks to do.
45. I feel overburdened in my role.
46. Even when I take the initiative for discussions or help, there is not
much response from the other roles.
47. I need more training and preparation to be effective in my work role.
48. I experience a conflict between my values and what I have to do in
my role.
49. I am not clear what the priorities are in my role.
50. I wish I had more financial resources for the work assigned to me.
Biographic Data
Name:
Age:

.years.

months

Gender: M/F
Organization:
Experience in the IT industry,

.years,.

months

The questions used to find each stress dimension's score is as follows

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20

21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30

31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40

41
42
43
44
45
46
47
48
49
50

IRD
RS
REC
RE
RO
RI
PI
SRD
RA
RIn

28
Fernandes and Tewari: Organizational Role Stress

Besides the ORS, the social support was captured with the help of 5 questions.
I receive support from
I receive support from
I receive support from
I receive support from
I receive support from

my peers in the organization.


my supervisor.
my manager.
my friends outside organization.
my family.

The categories used were


You never or rarely feel this way.
You occasionally (a few times) feel
this way.
You sometimes feel this way.
You frequently feel this way.
You very frequently or always feel
this way.
Note: The above statements were coded as 1,
2,3,4,5.

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