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«Vera, María; Salanova, Marisa; Martín, Beatriz University faculty and work-related well-being: the importance of the triple work profile Electronic ...»

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Electronic Journal of Research in Educational


E-ISSN: 1696-2095


Universidad de Almería


Vera, María; Salanova, Marisa; Martín, Beatriz

University faculty and work-related well-being: the importance of the triple work profile

Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, vol. 8, núm. 21, septiembre-, 2010, pp. 581Universidad de Almería

Almeria, España

Available in: http://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=293122002007

How to cite

Complete issue Scientific Information System More information about this article Network of Scientific Journals from Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain and Portugal Journal's homepage in redalyc.org Non-profit academic project, developed under the open access initiative Profesorado universitario y su bienestar laboral: la importancia del triple perfil laboral Profesorado universitario y su bienestar laboral: la importancia del triple perfil laboral María Vera 1, Marisa Salanova 1, Beatriz Martín2 Departamento de Psicología Social, Universitat Jaime I, Equipo de Investigación WoNT, Castellón de la Plana Departamento de Psicología Clínica, Universidad Miguel Hernández, Elche España

Correspondence: María Vera Perea. Universitat Jaume I. Facultad Ciencias Humanas y Sociales. Departamento Psicologia Social. Av. de Vicent Sos Baynat, s/n. 12071 Castelló de la Plana. Spain. E-mail:

mvera@psi.uji.es © Education & Psychology I+D+i and Editorial EOS (Spain) María Vera et al.

Resumen Introducción. El principal objetivo de este estudio es comprobar si los diferentes perfiles laborales de los profesores universitarios (docente, investigador y gestor) se relacionan con la experiencia de bienestar enel trabajo (burnout, engagement y satisfacción intrínseca).

Método. Las hipótesis se pusieron a prueba mediante análisis cluster, ANOVA y análisis factorial confirmatorio en una muestra de 170 profesores universitarios españoles.

Resultados. Los resultados muestran la existencia de cuatro patrones laborales en los profesores universitarios que tienen en cuenta el triple perfil laboral (docencia, investigación, gestión y docencia e investigación). Por otra parte, los análisis de varianza indican que hay diferencias significativas en la absorción y en la satisfacción intrínseca, dependiendo del patrón laboral, de forma que aquellos profesores que pertenecen al patrón laboral de investigación, tienen los valores más altos en engagement y motivación intrínseca mientras que aquellos profesores que pertenecen al patrón laboral de gestión, tienen los valores más altos de burnout. Finalmente, el análisis factorial confirmatorio muestra que burnout consta de cuatro dimensiones (agotamiento, despersonalización, cinismo y falta de eficacia profesional).

Discusión y Conclusión. Aquellos profesores universitarios en cuyo patrón laboral predomina la investigación son los que gozan de mejor bienestar, mientras que los que peor bienestar sufren son aquellos profesores universitarios en cuyo patrón laboral predomina la gestión.

Palabras Clave: Profesores universitarios, bienestar y satisfacción.

Recibido: 26/11/09 Aceptación Inicial: 25/05/10 Aceptación Definitiva: 02/06/10 Profesorado universitario y su bienestar laboral: la importancia del triple perfil laboral

University faculty and work-related well-being:

the importance of the triple work profile

–  –  –

Introduction. The main aim of this study is to test whether different university faculty work profiles (i.e., teaching, research and management) relate with the experience of well-being at work (i.e., burnout, work engagement and intrinsic satisfaction).

Method. Hypotheses were tested through a K-means cluster, ANOVA, and confirmatory factor analysis in a sample of 170 Spanish university faculty members.

Results. The results show the existence of four work patterns in university faculty which take into account their triple work profile (i.e., teaching cluster, research cluster, management cluster and teaching and research cluster). Moreover, ANOVA analyses indicate that there are significant differences in absorption and intrinsic satisfaction, depending on the cluster they belong to. So far, the research cluster offers the lowest value in burnout and the highest value in engagement and intrinsic satisfaction. In contrast, the management cluster presents the highest value in burnout, and the lowest in engagement and intrinsic satisfaction. Finally, the confirmatory factor analyses showed that burnout consists of the four expected dimensions (i.e., exhaustion, cynicism, depersonalization and lack of professional efficacy).

Discussion and Conclusions. University faculty members whose work profile is predominated by research tasks are the ones who enjoy better levels of well-being, while faculty whose work profile is predominated by management tasks suffer the lowest degrees of well-being.

Keywords: University faculty, well-being, and satisfaction

–  –  –

Introduction Although traditionally, university teaching has been treated as a low stress occupation (Fisher, 1994; Hogan, Carlson, & Dua, 2002; Winefield, 2000), things have changed in the last few decades. Nowadays, there are more and more university faculty members holding an insecure post and have a greater workload and, consequently, more research works about job stress and health among university faculty members have been conducted (Winefield, Gillespie, Dua, Hapuarachchi & Boyd, 2003) and also it is important to consider the major changes now underway in European universities (Arco, Fernández, López, & Heilborn, 2004; González, 2006). Moreover, we must take into account the important role played by this collective in our society, as Johnsrud (2008) stated, university faculty members, through their work, transform individual lives and improve the quality of life of the entire society, so it seems important to study this collective as well as to know any antecedent that can affect to their well-being.

Thus, this article provide an important practical contribution, since not only shows a better understanding of the work carried out by university faculty members, but also it shows how their well-being changes depending on their work pattern. Additionally, this article also makes a great theoretical contribution by testing that burnout consists of four dimensions instead of three.

Generally speaking, university faculty members spend their working hours performing different kinds of tasks which may be summarized as a triple work profile made up of teaching, research, and management tasks. And these three tasks have been already taking into account for several authors (e.g., Buela-Casal & Sierra, 2007; Cifre, Llorens, Salanova, & Martínez, 2003; Currie, 1996; Morrison, 1996; Vera, Martín del Río, & Solanes, 2005). Previous research has examined the potential (im)balance among the tasks carried out by university faculty members. For example, León and Gozalo (1999) stated that there is no balance between university faculty teaching and research functions because more importance is attached to the role of researcher, while the importance of teaching tasks is played down.

Profesorado universitario y su bienestar laboral: la importancia del triple perfil laboral Hypothesis 1: Almost all faculty members have a triple work profile, that is to say, almost all of them perform teaching, research and management tasks to a greater or lesser degree. Nevertheless, there are different work patterns in which one of the three tasks excels over the others in terms of time dedicated to it.

Currie (1996) claimed that the most frustrating task for university faculty members is to have to deal with institutional demands that affect their teaching and research tasks. He showed that university faculty members were losing their autonomy by spending too much time on administrative tasks. Along the same lines, a study by Court (1994) showed how university faculty members dedicated one third of their time to administrative tasks. Morrison (1996) also claimed that the pressure of teaching and management tasks were sapping the energy that university faculty members had previously applied to research tasks.

According to Chalmers (1998), university faculty members often feel frustrated because they have no time for research. This author also discussed how these members would like to have more time for research and fewer teaching hours, as well as a smaller number of administrative tasks. She finally concluded that university faculty members have increasingly more bureaucratic-administrative duties as a result of the need to obtain economic resources for research, congresses, academic exchanges, and so on. It seems that these professionals’ work is no longer what it was before as it has become more submissive work with more restrictive conditions and involves working “against the clock” (Caramés, 2003).

According to Taris, Schreurs and Van Iersel-Van Silfhout (2001), research and teaching tasks entail temporary demands that cause tension, which in turn causes emotional exhaustion. Guerrero and Vicente (1999) also pointed out the obligation to make teaching and research tasks compatible as a source of strain, and even of burnout. They claimed that this happens not only because the time dedicated to one’s tasks has negative influences on being able to dedicate oneself to other tasks, but also because research work evaluation is more important than teaching work evaluation. Moreover, university faculty members are becoming increasingly involved in managerial tasks that are also a source of role conflict (Moriana & Herruzo, 2004). In addition, Lackritz María Vera et al.

(2004) concluded that feelings of burnout are more strongly related with teaching tasks than with those involved in research.

Nonetheless, university faculty members do not have only negative experiences in their work, it also provides them with positive experiences, such as engagement, which is defined as a “positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption” (Schaufeli et al., 2002, p. 72). Engagement refers to a persistent and pervasive affective–cognitive state which does not focus on any particular object, event, individual, or behavior. Vigor is characterized by high levels of energy and mental resilience while working, the willingness to invest effort in one’s work, and persistence also in the face of difficulties. Dedication, on the other hand, refers to a sense of significance, enthusiasm, inspiration, pride, and challenge. The third dimension of engagement, absorption, suggests being fully concentrated and happily engrossed in one’s work, whereby time passes quickly and one has difficulties with detaching oneself from work.

Finally, an important topic that it is relevant to well-being is job satisfaction.

Oshagbemi (1997, 1999) studied the relationship between the triple work profile and job satisfaction in university faculty members. He asked university faculty about tasks that contribute to job satisfaction and found they scored high in teaching and research tasks, whereas they scored low in management tasks.

In view of these results, it may be that university faculty members with more management tasks experience more job stress (i.e., burnout), while those with more research tasks experience more work-related well-being (i.e., work engagement and intrinsic motivation). Moreover, this study stated that university faculty members with more teaching and research tasks are the ones who are more satisfied.

Hypothesis 2: University faculty members who have work patterns with more managerial tasks will show higher levels of burnout than faculty members with other work patterns Profesorado universitario y su bienestar laboral: la importancia del triple perfil laboral Hypothesis 3: University faculty members who have work patterns with more research tasks will show higher levels of work engagement and intrinsic job satisfaction than faculty members with other work patterns.

With regard to university faculty members’ stress, we must first consider a chronic type of stress that is referred to as job burnout. This is a syndrome with three separate dimensions: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and lack of professional efficacy (Maslach, 1982). According to Maslach (1993), the first refers to feelings of being emotionally overextended and depleted of one’s emotional resources. The second, depersonalization, refers to a negative, cynical or excessively detached response to other people, which often includes loss of idealism. Third, lack of professional efficacy suggests a decline in feelings of competence and productivity at work.

Although these three dimensions are widely accepted, diverse empirical studies have questioned this structure composed of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and lack of professional efficacy. On the one hand, exhaustion and cynicism constitute the “core of burnout” and leave lack of professional efficacy to one side (Browers & Tomic, 2000; Green, Walkey, & Taylor, 1991; Schaufeli, Salanova, González-Romá, & Bakker, 2002; Xanthopoulou et al., 2007). On the other hand, rather than being a dimension of burnout, lack of professional efficacy is more one of its causes. Burnout could take place due to a “crisis of self-efficacy” (Bandura, 2001; Cherniss, 1993; Salanova, Bresó, & Schaufeli, 2005). Lack of professional efficacy is an independent component of the other two components of burnout, as pointed out in the Social Cognitive Theory by Bandura (1986), which closely relates to what this author denominates “efficacy beliefs” (Salanova, Martínez, & Lorente, 2005).

Finally, past research confirmed a four-dimensioned structure of burnout which includes emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, cynicism, and lack of professional efficacy (Salanova et al., 2005). According to these authors, it is necessary to differentiate between depersonalization and cynicism because the definition of burnout has extended to workers who are not in direct contact with recipients of the service being rendered. And depersonalization necessarily implies other people. Therefore its meaning cannot lie outside social relations. However, cynicism can appear without any social relation. Thus, Salanova et al. (2005) understood both dimensions as indicators of a María Vera et al.

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