Burnout of academic staff in a higher education institution
Barkhuizen, Emmerentia Nicolene
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Universities worldwide are developing a disturbing imbalance with their environments. In recent years, academic working conditions in South African universities have changed dramatically as a result of the country's post-apartheid policies and the accelerating globalisation of knowledge. Academic staff are continually confronted with an overload of job demands without corresponding increases in job resources. These prolonged job stressors that academic staff are subjected to over lengthy periods of time coupled with inadequate job resources can lead to the development of a pathogenically defined construct, namely burnout. The objective of this research was to investigate the relationships between burnout, strain, job characteristics and dispositional optimism in universities in the North-West Province. A cross-sectional design was used. The study population (N = 279) consisted of academic staff of universities in the North-West Province. The Maslach Burnout Inventory - General Survey (MBI-GS), The Life Orientation Test - Revised (LOT-R), Job Characteristics Scale (JCS) and General Health Questionnaire (GHQI9) were used as measuring instruments. Descriptive statistics (e.g. means, standard deviations and kurtosis) were used to analyse the data. Exploratory factor analysis and structural equation modelling were used to confirm the structure of the measuring instruments and to test theoretical models. The results showed that the stressors of overload was associated with high levels of exhaustion and low professional efficacy. Job resources (i.e. social support, task characteristics) were related to low levels of exhaustion and cynicism and higher levels of professional efficacy. Exhaustion and low professional efficacy were significantly related to physical and psychological health problems. Exhaustion and cynicism were negatively related to optimism, whereas professional efficacy were positively related to the latter. Optimism moderated the effects of a lack of resources on exhaustion and the effects of job resources on professional efficacy.