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Aspirations and job burnout: A study of New Zealand managers


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Self Determination Theory (SDT) asserts aspirations (life goals) of personal growth, relationship, community and health (intrinsic aspirations) support optimal functioning including in employees and leaders, whereas aspirations for wealth, image and fame (extrinsic aspirations) are detrimental. Furthermore, the pursuit of extrinsic aspirations has been associated with the undermining of leadership capabilities, as well as negatively related employee’s wellbeing, and the wellbeing of wider society. Consequently, leaders can be viewed as being concerned with self interest and the pursuit of extrinsic aspirations, or viewed as acting with concern for others and intrinsic aspirations. While we understand that aspirations are important, little is understood about the influence intrinsic and extrinsic aspirations have towards job burnout. The following study explores seven dimensions of aspirations on a sample of 386 New Zealand leaders towards emotional exhaustion and cynicism. Data was collected in two waves (1=predictors and 2=outcomes) and structural equation modeling was used to test the influence. Two models were tested. In model 1 (direct effects only), findings showed that, in general, extrinsic aspirations were positively related to job burnout and intrinsic aspirations were negatively related. Wealth and image aspirations were significantly and positively related to emotional exhaustion and cynicism, while fame aspirations (an extrinsic aspiration) were found to be significantly and negatively related to both outcomes. Similarly, personal growth and health aspirations were found to be significantly and negatively related to both emotional exhaustion and cynicism, while community aspirations (an intrinsic aspiration) were found to be significantly and positively related to both outcomes. Aspirations towards relationships were not related to either dimension of job burnout. Overall, aspirations accounted for moderate amounts of variance (25% for emotional exhaustion and 22% for cynicism). A mediation model (model 2) was also tested and found to be significantly superior to model 1, with aspirations influencing emotional exhaustion which in turn influenced cynicism. In model 2, wealth and image aspirations were significantly and positively related to emotional exhaustion, while health aspirations were significantly and negatively related. Emotional exhaustion was significantly and positively related to cynicism. Model 2 showed that emotional exhaustion fully mediated the influence of intrinsic and extrinsic aspirations towards cynicism. Furthermore, while model 2 accounted for slightly less variance towards emotional exhaustion (19%), it accounted for significantly greater amounts towards cynicism (59%). Overall, extrinsic aspirations generally acted as expected, with leaders with life goals focused on themselves (e.g. wealth and image) leading to greater emotional exhaustion. Similarly, leaders with life goals focused on intrinsic aspects (e.g. health) had less emotional exhaustion, and ultimately this is important because emotional exhaustion played a large part in influencing cynicism. This study shows the importance that life goals can play towards job burnout and encourages further exploration of SDT dimensions towards similar outcomes.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: aspirations, job burnout, SEM, mediation.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Schools > Centre for Business, Information Technology and Enterprise > School of Business and Adminstration
Depositing User: Maree Roche
Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2011 23:41
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 02:32

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