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Burnout, Psychology of

BC–AD 220. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, Rostovcev M I 1941 The Social and Economic History of the
pp. 491–519 Hellenistic World. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK,
Bruguie' re M, Clinguart J, Guillaume-Hofnung M, Machelon Vols. 1–3
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tion et ControV le de l’En conomie 1800–1914. Libr. Droz, Geneva, Roman Empire. Clarendon Press, Oxford, UK, Vols. 1–2
Switzerland Rousso H (ed.) 1986 De Monnet aZ MasseT . Enjeux politiques et
Campbell G A 1955 (new edn. 1965) The Ciil Serice in Britain. objectifs eT conomiques dans le cadre des quatre premiers Plans
Duckworth, London (1946–65). Editions du Centre National de la Recherche
Charle C 1980 Les hauts fonctionnaires en France au XIXe sieZ cle. Scientifique, Paris
Gallimard\Julliard, Paris Rousso H (ed.) 1987 La planification en crises (1965–1985), Edi-
Eisenstadt S N 1958 Bureaucracy and bureaucratization: a trend tions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. Paris
report and a bibliography. Current Sociology 7: 2 Schluchter W 1989 Rationalism, Religion, and Domination. A
Gillis J R 1971 The Prussian Bureaucracy in Crisis, 1840–1860. Weberian Perspectie. University of California Press, Berke-
Origins of an Administratie Ethos. Stanford University Press, ley, CA
Stanford Shepelyov L E 1999 Chinonii mir XVIII–nachalo XX  [The
Hodges D C 1981 The Bureaucratization of Socialism, University World of the Ciil Serice from the 18th to the Beginning of the
of Massachusetts Press, Amherst, MA 20th Century]. Iskusstvo-SPB, Saint-Petersburg, Russia
Jacoby H 1969 Die BuW rokratisierung der Welt: ein Beitrag zur Shevtsova L 1999 Yeltsin’s Russia: Myths and Reality. Carnegie
Problemgeschichte, Soziologische Texte, Vol. 64, Neuwied Endowment for International Peace, Washington, DC
[1973, The Bureaucratization of the World, University of Thuillier G 1980 Bureaucratie et bureaucrats en France au XIXe
California Press, Berkeley, CA sieZ cle. Droz, Geneva, Switzerland
Kocka J 1969 Unternehemenserwaltung und Angestelltenschaft Torstendahl R 1991 Bureaucratisation in Northwestern Europe,
am Beispiel Siemens 1847–1914. Zum Verha$ ltnis vom Kapital- 1880–1985: Domination and Goernance. Routledge, London
ismus und Bu$ rokratie in der deutschen Industrialisierung, Weber M 1922 Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, Mohr, Tu$ bingen
Stuttgart, Germany [1978] Economy and Society. Bedminster Press, New York,
Korzhikhina T P 1995 Soietskoye gosudarsto i yego uchrezh- Vols. 1–3
deniya 1917–1991 [The Soiet State and its Administrations, Winkler H A (ed.) 1974 Organierter Kapitalismus. Vorausset-
1917–1991]. RGGU, Moscow zungen und AnfaW nge. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Go$ ttingen,
Loewe M 1986 The Structure and Practice of Goernment, in Germany
Cambridge History of China, Vol. 1: The Ch’in and Han Yeroshkin N P 1997 Istoria gosudarstennykh uchrezhdenii
Empires, 221 BC–AD 220. Cambridge University Press, doreolyutsionnoi Rossii [A History of State Administration
Cambridge, UK, pp. 463–90 in Prereolutionary Russia]. Tretii Rim, Moscow
Mackenzie W J M, Grove J W 1957 Central Administration in
Britain. Longmans Green, London R. Torstendahl
Mammarella G 1985 L’Italia contemporanea (1943–1985). Il
Mulino, Bologna, Italy
Mann M 1986\1993 The Sources of Social Power. Cambridge
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Mayntz R, Scharpf F W 1975 Policy-making in the German
Federal Bureaucracy. Elsevier, Amsterdam
Michels R 1911 Zur Soziologie des Parteiwesens in der modernen
Burnout, Psychology of
Demokratie. W. Klinkhardt, Leipzig, Germany
Mommsen W J 1974 The Age of Bureaucracy. Perspecties on the Burnout is a psychological syndrome that develops in
Political Sociology of Max Weber. Blackwell, Oxford, response to chronic emotional and interpersonal job
UK stressors. The three defining components of this
Mommsen W J 1989 The Political and Social Theory of Max syndrome are: (a) exhaustion, (b) cynicism and de-
Weber, Collected essays. Polity Press, Oxford, UK tachment from the job, and (c) a sense of inefficacy and
Morgan K O 1984 Labour in Power, 1945–1951. Clarendon reduced accomplishment. Burnout impairs both per-
Press, Oxford, UK sonal and social functioning. While some people may
Peterson C 1979 Peter the Great’s Administratie and Judicial
quit the job as a result of burnout, others will stay on,
Reforms: Swedish Antecedents and the Process of Reception.
Nordiska bokhandeln, Stockholm [Ra$ ttshistoriskt bibliotek,
but will only do the bare minimum rather than their
Vol. 29] very best. This decline in the quality of work and in
Raeff M 1983 The Well-ordered Police State: Social and both physical and psychological health can be costly—
Institutional Change Through Law in the Germanies and Russia, not just for the individual worker, but for everyone
1600–1800. Yale University, New Haven, CT affected by that person.
Rials S 1977 Administration et organisation. De l’organisation de
la bataille aZ la bataille de l’organisation dans l’administration
française. Beauchesne, Paris
Rizzi B 1939 La bureaucratisation du monde. Paris [1985, The 1. Deelopment of the Burnout Concept
Bureaucratization of the World, 1st Am. Ed. Free Press, New
York] The relationship that people have with their work, and
Rostovcev M I 1936–38 A History of the Ancient World. the difficulties that can arise when that relationship
Clarendon Press, Oxford, UK, Vols. 1–2 goes awry, have been long recognized as a significant

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phenomenon of the modern age. The use of the term interviewed a wide range of human services workers
‘burnout’ for this phenomenon began to appear with about the emotional stress of their job, and discovered
some regularity in the 1970s in the USA, especially that the coping strategies had important implications
among people working in the human services. This for people’s professional identity and job behavior.
popular usage was presaged by Greene’s 1960 novel, A The clinical and social psychological perspectives of
Burnt Out Case, in which a spiritually tormented and the initial articles influenced the nature of the first
disillusioned architect quits his job and withdraws into phase of burnout research. On the clinical side, the
the African jungle. Even earlier writing, both fictional focus was on symptoms of burnout and on issues of
and nonfictional, described similar phenomena (for mental health. On the social side, the focus was on the
example, the protagonist in Mann’s Buddenbrooks relationship between provider and recipient, and on
(1900) displays the core features of burnout, including the situational context of service occupations. Most of
extreme fatigue and the loss of idealism and passion this initial research was descriptive and non-
for one’s job). What is noteworthy is that the im- empirical—it was more qualitative in nature, using
portance of burnout as a social problem was identified such techniques as interviews, case studies, and onsite
by both practitioners and social commentators long observations.
before it became a focus of systematic study by In addition, this first phase was characterized by a
researchers. strong applied orientation, which reflected the par-
The evocative power of the burnout term to capture ticular set of social, economic, historical, and cultural
the realities of people’s experiences in the workplace is factors of the 1970s. Both Farber (1983) and Cherniss
what has made it both important and controversial in (1980) provided analyses of how these factors had
the research field. As the ‘language of the people,’ influenced the professionalization of the human ser-
burnout was more grounded in the complexities of vices in the USA, and had made it more difficult for
people’s relationship to work, and gave new attention people to find fulfillment and satisfaction in these
to some aspects of it. However, burnout was also careers. Burnout workshops became a primary mode
derided as nonscholarly ‘pop psychology.’ Unlike of intervention, as exemplified in the work of Pines et
other research on the workplace, which used a top- al. (1981).
down approach derived from a scholarly theory, A second phase of burnout research developed in
burnout research initially used a bottom-up or ‘grass- the 1980s, in which the emphasis shifted to more
roots’ approach derived from people’s workplace systematic empirical research. This work was more
experiences. At first, the popular, nonacademic origins quantitative in nature, using questionnaire and survey
of burnout were more of a liability than an advantage. methodology, and studying larger subject populations.
However, given the subsequent development of theor- A particular focus of this research was the assessment
etical models and numerous empirical studies, the of burnout, and several different measures were
issue of research scholarship has now been laid to rest. developed. The scale that has had the strongest
Research on burnout has gone through distinct psychometric qualities and has been used in over 90
phases of development. In the first, pioneering phase, percent of the research studies is the Maslach Burnout
the work was exploratory and had the goal of Inventory (MBI) developed by Maslach and Jackson
articulating the phenomenon of burnout. The initial (see Maslach et al. 1996 for the most recent versions of
articles appeared in the mid-1970s in the USA, and this measure).
their primary contribution was to describe the basic The shift to greater empiricism was accompanied by
phenomenon, give it the identifying name of ‘burnout,’ theoretical and methodological contributions from
and show that it was not an uncommon response. This the field of industrial–organizational psychology.
early writing was based on the experience of people Burnout was viewed as a form of job stress, with links
working in human services and health care— to such concepts as job satisfaction, organizational
occupations in which the goal is to provide aid and commitment, and turnover. The industrial–organi-
service to people in need. Such occupations are zational approach, when combined with the prior
characterized by high levels of emotional and inter- work based in clinical and social psychology, gener-
personal stressors, so it is not surprising that the ated a richer diversity of perspectives on burnout
concern with burnout originated there. The initial and strengthened the scholarly base via the use of
articles were written by Freudenberger, a psychiatrist standardized tools and research designs.
working in an alternative health care agency, and by Another aspect of this empirical phase is that
Maslach, a social psychologist who was studying burnout extended beyond its original American
emotions in the workplace. Freudenberger (Freuden- borders. At first, the phenomenon drew attention in
berger 1975, Freudenberger and Richelson 1980) English-speaking countries, such as Canada and the
provided direct accounts of the process by which he UK. Soon articles, books, and research measures were
and others experienced emotional depletion and a loss translated into numerous languages, and subsequently
of motivation and commitment, and he labeled it with research on burnout emerged in many countries of
a term being used colloquially to refer to the effects of Europe, as well as Israel. Because burnout research in
chronic drug abuse: ‘burnout.’ Maslach (1976, 1982) these countries started after the concept and measures

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Burnout, Psychology of

had been established in the USA, that work built on an colleagues, and the opportunity to exercise control
already established theoretical and methodological over one’s work. Although the bulk of burnout
base. Hence, the initial conceptual debate on burnout research has focused on the organizational context in
was less broad, and alternative measures were rarely which people work, it has also considered a range of
developed. However, by the 1990s, the intellectual personal qualities. Burnout scores tend to be higher
contributions of non-Anglo-Saxon authors in terms of for people who have a less ‘hardy’ personality or a
theory, research, and intervention were considerable more external locus of control, or who score as
(most notable is the work of Schaufeli and his ‘neurotic’ on the Five-Factor Model of personality.
colleagues; see Schaufeli et al. 1993, Schaufeli and People who exhibit Type A behavior tend to be more
Enzmann 1998). prone to the exhaustion dimension of burnout. (See
In the 1990s this empirical phase continued, but Personality and Health)
with several new directions. First, the concept of There are few consistent relationships of burnout
burnout was extended to occupations beyond the with demographic characteristics. Although higher
human services and education. Second, burnout re- age seems to be associated with lower burnout, it is
search was enhanced by more sophisticated meth- confounded with both years of experience and with
odology and statistical tools. The complex relation- survival bias. The only consistent gender difference is
ships among organizational factors and the three a tendency for men to score slightly higher on cynicism.
components of burnout led to the use of structural
models in much of burnout research (Leiter is the 2.2 Outcomes of Burnout
leading contributor here; see Leiter 1993), and also
spurred developmental proposals of the merits of The exhaustion component of burnout is more pre-
sequential versus phase models (for the latter, see dictive of stress-related health outcomes than the other
Golembiewski and Munzenrider 1988). two components. These physiological correlates mir-
A third direction has been the development of new ror those found with other indices of prolonged stress.
theoretical perspectives on burnout. For example, Parallel findings have been found for the link between
burnout has been conceptualized as a lack of reci- burnout and various forms of substance abuse.
procity in social exchanges, as emotional contagion, as In terms of mental, as opposed to physical, health,
a failed quest for existential meaning, and as a the link with burnout is more complex. It has been
mismatch between person and job in six areas of assumed that burnout may result in subsequent mental
worklife (see Schaufeli et al. 1993, Maslach and Leiter disabilities, and there is some evidence to link burnout
1997). Another new development has been the focus with greater anxiety, irritability, and depression. How-
on the opposite of burnout, namely the productive and ever, an alternative argument is that burnout is itself a
fulfilling state of engagement with work. Engagement form of mental illness, rather than a cause of it. Some
has been defined in terms of the positive end of the of this research has focused on the distinction between
three dimensions of burnout (i.e., energy, involvement, burnout and depression: burnout is job-related and
and efficacy), but future research may suggest a more situation-specific, as opposed to depression, which is
complex model of this phenomenon. general and context free.
Burnout has been associated with various forms of
job withdrawal—absenteeism, intention to leave the
2. A Research Oeriew job, and actual turnover. However, for people who
The current body of research evidence yields a fairly stay on the job, burnout leads to lower productivity
consistent picture of the burnout phenomenon (see and effectiveness at work. Consequently, it is associ-
Schaufeli and Enzmann 1998 for the most recent ated with decreased job satisfaction and a reduced
review of this literature). Because burnout is a pro- commitment to the job or the organization.
longed response to chronic job stressors, it tends to be People who are experiencing burnout can have a
fairly stable over time. It is an important mediator of negative impact on their colleagues, both by causing
the causal link between various job stressors and greater personal conflict and by disrupting job tasks.
individual stress outcomes. The exhaustion com- Thus, burnout can be ‘contagious’ and perpetuate
ponent of burnout tends to predict the rise of cynicism, itself through informal interactions on the job. There
while the inefficacy component tends to develop is also some evidence that burnout has a negative
independently. ‘spillover’ effect on people’s home life.

2.1 Contributing Factors to Burnout 3. Implications for Interentions


The primary antecedents of burnout are work over- The personal and organizational costs of burnout
load (both quantitative and qualitative) and personal have generated various intervention strategies. Some
conflict at work. A lack of resources to manage job try to treat burnout after it has occurred, while others
demands also contributes to burnout. The most critical focus on how to prevent burnout. The interest in job
of these resources have been social support among engagement has led to a focus on how to promote this

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Burnout, Psychology of

positive state (rather than just on how to reduce the alone flourish, unless it provides goods or services for
negative state of burnout). Although some inter- which customers outside the business will be prepared
ventions have been implemented, there has been to pay. Business success depends on meeting market
almost no evaluation of their effectiveness. demand. Awareness of market conditions and of how
The primary emphasis has been on individual the market may be influenced is a key part of business
strategies to deal with burnout, rather than social or management. In this article the various interfaces
organizational ones, despite the fact that research has between businesses and their social context are briefly
found that situational and organizational factors play examined, using a form of analysis which has come to
a bigger role in burnout. Future progress in burnout be known by the acronym SLEPT, in which the
interventions will depend on the development of different letters stand respectively for the Social, Legal,
strategies that focus on the job context as well as the Environmental, Political, and Technological factors
people who work within it. influencing business organizations.
See also: Job Stress, Coping with; Occupational
Health; Stress at Work; Workplace Safety and Health
1. Social Factors
Market demand depends on the needs, desires, and
Bibliography interests of people in society, and knowledge of these
Cherniss C 1980 Professional Burnout in Human Serice Organi- is essential if a business is successfully to meet that
zations. Praeger, New York demand. Such factors may be determined by the
Farber B (ed.) 1983 Stress and Burnout in the Human Serice physical climate, by the language and culture, or by
Professions. Pergamon, New York the demographic structure of a society. There is likely
Freudenberger H J 1975 The staff burnout syndrome in alterna- to be little demand, for example, for heavy overcoats
tive institutions. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Prac- in tropical countries, or for umbrellas in arid lands. In
tice 12: 72–83 some cultural settings it is still rare for women to seek
Freudenberger H J, Richelson G 1980 Burnout: The High Cost of paid employment. In others the increase in life ex-
High Achieement. Doubleday, Garden City, NY
pectancy may have resulted in increasing demand for
Golembiewski R T, Munzenrider R F 1988 Phases of Burnout:
Deelopments in Concepts and Applications. Praeger, New leisure activities for pensioners who have retired from
York employment. Changes to birth rates cause fluctuations
Leiter M P 1993 Burnout as a deelopmental process: consider- in demand for goods and services required by children.
ation of models. In: Schaufeli W B, Maslach C, Marek T (eds.) These are examples of the ways in which knowledge of
Professional Burnout: Recent Deelopments in Theory and the market place will help a business entrepreneur to
Research. Taylor and Francis, Washington, DC, pp. 237–50 decide what goods to produce and offer for sale to
Maslach C 1976 Burned-out. Human Behaior 5: 16–22 meet demand.
Maslach C 1982 Burnout: The Cost of Caring. Prentice-Hall, Part of the cultural context of a business is the
Englewood Cliffs, NJ
prevailing ethos or climate of moral opinion about
Maslach C, Jackson S E, Leiter M P 1996 Maslach Burnout
Inentory Manual, 3rd edn. Consulting Psychologists Press, what are right standards for business activity and
Palo Alto, CA trading. During the last two decades, such questions of
Maslach C, Leiter M P 1997 The Truth About Burnout. 1st edn; business ethics have figured increasingly in public
Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA concern and on the agendas of business organizations.
Pines A, Aronson E, Kafry D 1981 Burnout: From Tedium to These highlight the need for complete probity and
Personal Growth. Free Press, New York accountability in business, and for more openness in
Schaufeli W, Enzmann D 1998 The Burnout Companion to Study the operations of boards of directors. Ethical consid-
and Practice: A Critical Analysis. Taylor and Francis, erations may involve how a firm exploits its markets,
Philadelphia, PA
how it obtains raw materials or cheap labour for its
Schaufeli W B, Maslach C, Marek T (eds.) 1993 Professional
Burnout: Recent Deelopments in Theory and Research. Taylor operations in different parts of the world, or how its
and Francis, Washington, DC activities affect the physical environment (which will
be explored more fully in Sect. 3).
C. Maslach The ethical standing of a business will affect its
public relations, which in turn may impact upon the
Copyright # 2001 Elsevier Science Ltd. demand for its products, one way or the other. Modern
All rights reserved. businesses, especially larger ones, pay increasing at-
tention to their public relations and how their
Business and Society: Social Accounting images—and the brand images of their products—
appear to the general public. Part of that public image
To succeed, any modern business manager needs to is determined by how a business is presented by the
understand all the interfaces between the business and news media, part by the reputation which products
wider society no less than all the internal operations of have among customers, and part by the business’ own
the business itself. For no business can survive, let public advertising of its products. No successful

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International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences ISBN: 0-08-043076-7