Psychosocial Work Conditions, Health, and Leadership of Managers
Sammanfattning: Although psychosocial work conditions, health and leadership are concepts that have been studied for a long time, more knowledge is needed on how they are related in managers. Existing research suggests that managers are very influential in their workplaces, but the way in which their workplaces influence them is often overlooked. As a result, the potential reciprocity between managers’ psychosocial work conditions, health and leadership is not in focus. Furthermore, managers have often been studied as a uniform group and little consideration has been given to potential differences between managers at different managerial levels.The overall aim of this thesis is to increase knowledge about the relationships between managers’ psychosocial work conditions, their health, and their leadership; and to elucidate differences between managers at different managerial levels in these relationships. The thesis consists of four separate papers with specific aims. In Paper I, the aim was to compare the differences in work conditions and burnout at three hierarchical levels: subordinates, first-line managers, and middle managers; and to investigate if the association between work conditions and burnout differs for subordinates, first-line managers, and middle managers. In Paper II, the aim was to advance knowledge of workplace antecedents of transformational leadership, by investigating what psychosocial work conditions of first-line managers are associated with their display of transformational leadership; and whether superiors’ leadership is associated with first-line managers’ display of transformational leadership. In Paper III, the aim was to deepen the understanding of how managers’ health and leadership is related by combining two perspectives in previous research. The two specific research questions were: What psychosocial conditions at work affect managers’ health? How does managers’ health influence their leadership? In Paper IV, the aim was to further the understanding of managers’ perceptions of social support, and to increase our understanding of how managers perceive that receiving social support affects their managerial legitimacy.The empirical material is based on three research projects with quantitative and qualitative designs. Papers I and II are based on cross-sectional data from 4096 employees in nine Swedish organizations. Paper III is based on 42 interviews with managers in a Swedish industrial production company, and Paper IV is based on 62 interviews with managers in a Swedish industrial production company and a Swedish municipality. The interviews were analysed using inductive content analysis.The results showed that psychosocial work conditions and symptoms of burnout generally differed between subordinates and managers, and few differences were found between the managerial levels (Paper I). However, in the associations between psychosocial work conditions and symptoms of burnout, similarities were found between subordinates and first-line managers, while middle managers differed. First-line managers’ psychosocial work conditions were also found to be associated with their display of transformational leadership (Paper II). Psychosocial work conditions were perceived to influence managers’ performance and health, and particularly first-line managers described being dependent on favourable work conditions (Paper III). Furthermore, managers’ health was perceived to influence their leadership, and affect both the quality of their work and the quality of their relationships with subordinates. Managers’ social support came from different people within and outside their workplace (Paper IV). Support that concerned their work came from people within the workplace and was perceived to increase their managerial legitimacy, whereas support that concerned personal and sensitive matters was sought from those outside the workplace so that their managerial legitimacy would not be questioned.The results suggest that managers’ psychosocial work conditions, health and leadership are closely related and can be conceptualized as reciprocal spirals. Some resources in the psychosocial work environment, such as social support, may be hard to take advantage of, even if they are available. The psychosocial work conditions of managers at different managerial levels differ to some extent, which has consequences for how the relationship between psychosocial work conditions, health and leadership is expressed. Especially first-line managers seem to be in a vulnerable position because their influence s more restricted, and they are more dependent on favourable psychosocial work conditions.
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