An investigation into the effects of organisational change on occupational stress in further education lecturers

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The aim of this study is to investigate the stress experienced by full-timemaingrade lecturers as a result of changes in college organisation and factors that relate to stress. A questionnaire was constructed to identify possible sources of stress at work and the amount of stress experienced. Two psychometric measures were included—the General Health Questionnaire and the Maslach Burnout Inventory. The former looked at the physiological and psychological effects of stress and the latter, the emotive, cognitive and behavioural effects, together referred to as 'burnout'. The study sought to investigate stress responses between lecturers employed in colleges that have undergone organisational change compared to those that have not. Two hundred questionnaires and psychometric measures were distributed, by opportunity, to 100 lecturers employed in FE colleges in the north of England and 100 employed in colleges in Northern Ireland. Colleges in the former region had undergone changes in college organisation as a result of incorporation. Colleges in the latter had not. Incorporation referred to the process whereby colleges became independent of local government control. This led to a series of changes, some of which affected lecturers' terms and conditions. Overall, the indices of reported stress were comparable or markedly greater than earlier research findings, and the trend was for lecturers who had experienced organisational change to report higher measures of stress. GHQ measures showed a significant difference between samples, with the majority of the English sample (69.49%, compared to 40.91%) categorised as 'at risk' of developing symptoms associated with a transient stress-related disorder, and whilst measures of 'burnout' were more pronounced in the English sample there were no significant differences between samples. In relation to a number of factors, the experience of stress and burnout was more pronounced in the Northern Ireland sample and explanations were offered, such as the influence of cultural variables and the increasing presence of stress-related features in these colleges as they move to incorporation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-328
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Further and Higher Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1998


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