Purpose: Task characteristics have been a focus of occupational stress research for many years. Workload and conflicting expectations have been especially prominent in this research. Recently, an additional feature of tasks as a source of stress has been suggested: Their perceived lack of legitimacy. We consider tasks to be illegitimate to the extent that it is perceived as improper to expect employees to do them. For example, tasks can fall outside of the range of one’s occupation or role differences within a profession, such as when employees are assigned tasks that do not match their levels of experience.
Design/Methodology: We discuss our research with the Bern Illegitimate Tasks Scale in different countries - Switzerland (French and German part), Sweden, and Germany - analyzing scale properties (measurement models) and associations of illegitimate tasks with strain (six data sets, N=2498).
Results: The Bern Illegitimate Tasks Scale was shown to be a sound measure, and it explained variance in several strain parameters, above and beyond the effects of other important predictors (stressors and resources).
Limitations: All studies were questionnaire studies.
Research/Practical Implications: Illegitimate tasks need more attention from supervisors; they should be part of management training. Research should be extended to other designs (e.g., diary studies) and to investigating moderators of the effect of illegitimate tasks (e.g., breadth of role definition).
Originality/Value: Our studies show that not just work demands or resources count with regard to stress, but also the perceived legitimacy of demands.
2013. 101-101 p.
16th Congress of the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology, 22-25 May, Münster, Germany