Abstract: Today, academics are under high pressure to equip themselves to satisfy various demands. The aim of this study is to investigate the relationship between job burnout, occupational commitment, and organizational citizenship behaviour (OCB) among academics at a private university in Malaysia. The present study was applied on the basis of PLS-SEM analysis. A total of 620 academics from two campuses of a private university participated in the study. The results indicate that emotional exhaustion is the most stressful indicator of job burnout. Secondly, job burnout was found to exert a significant negative influence on OCB as well as occupational commitment. Finally, occupational commitment was found to be a mediator between job burnout and OCB. In summary, this study aims to improve the professional commitment and OCB of academic staff by addressing job burnout.
Keywords: Job Burnout, Organizational Citizenship Behaviour, Occupational Commitment, Higher Education Institution
摘要(Chen, I-Chi, Ng Lee Peng, & Chong Chin Ann: “我累了” 探讨组织公民行为与工作倦怠之闗系-职业承诺为中介变项在马来西亚私立大学之研究)): 今日，大学教师由于各方的需求而导致极大的压力。本研究旨在探讨工作倦怠˴组织公民行为以及职业承诺之关系在马来西亚一所私立大学之情况。研究利用PLS-SEM进行统计分析，分别针对620教师在两个校区进行调查。研究结果发现，情绪倦怠为最主要的压力来源；次要发现工作倦怠会造成负向的组织公民行为以及低下的职业承诺。最后同时也发现，职业承诺的中介作用。总言之，透过本研究了解及正视工作倦怠的议题有助于大学教师提升其职业承诺同时也有助于发展正向的组织公民行为。
摘要 (Chen, I-Chi, Ng Lee Peng, & Chong Chin Ann: “我累了” 探討組織公民行為與工作倦怠之闗係-職業承諾為中介變項在馬來西亞私立大學之研究)): 今日，大學教師由於各方的需求而導致極大的壓力。本研究旨在探討工作倦怠˴組織公民行為以及職業承諾之關係在馬來西亞一所私立大學之情況。研究利用PLS-SEM進行統計分析，分別針對620教師在二個校區進行調查。研究結果發現，情緒倦怠為最主要的壓力來源；次要發現工作倦怠會造成負向的組織公民行為以及低下的職業承諾。最後同時也發現，職業承諾的中介作用。總言之，透過本研究了解及正視工作倦怠的議題有助於大學教師提升其職業承諾同時也有助於發展正向的組織公民行為。
Zusammenfassung (Chen, I-Chi, Ng Lee Peng, & Chong Chin Ann: “Ich bin müde” – Job-Burnout und staatsbürgerliches Verhalten in einer Organisation: Berufliches Engagement als Mediator in einer malaysischen Privatuniversität): Akademiker stehen heute unter hohem Druck, sich für verschiedene Anforderungen zu rüsten. Ziel dieser Studie ist es, den Zusammenhang zwischen Job-Burnout, beruflichem Engagement und organisatorischem Bürgerverhalten (OCB) bei Akademikern an einer privaten Universität in Malaysia zu untersuchen. Die vorliegende Studie wurde auf der Grundlage einer PLS-SEM-Analyse durchgeführt. Insgesamt nahmen 620 Akademiker von zwei Campi einer privaten Universität an der Studie teil. Die Ergebnisse deuten darauf hin, dass emotionale Erschöpfung der belastendste Indikator für berufliches Burnout ist. Zweitens wurde festgestellt, dass das Job-Burnout einen signifikanten negativen Einfluss auf das OCB sowie das berufliche Engagement hat. Schließlich wurde festgestellt, dass das berufliche Engagement ein Vermittler zwischen Job-Burnout und OCB ist. Zusammenfassend lässt sich sagen, dass diese Studie darauf abzielt, das berufliche Engagement und das OCB des akademischen Personals zu verbessern, indem sie sich mit dem Job-Burnout befasst.
Schlüsselwörter: Job-Burnout, organisatorisches Bürgerschaftsverhalten, berufliches Engagement, Hochschuleinrichtung
Резюме (Чен, Ай- Чи, Гн Ли Пенг, Чонг Чин Ан: «Я устал» – синдром профессионального выгорания и гражданское поведение в организации: профессиональная инициативность как медиатор (на примере ситуации в одном из частных университетов Малайзии).
Сегодня выпускники вузов стоят перед серьезными вызовами и должны соответствовать многим требованиям. Цель данной статьи – выявить корреляции между профессиональным выгоранием, профессиональной активностью и организаторской гражданской позицией, обратившись к анализу деятельности выпускников одного из частных университетов в Малайзии. Исследование проводилось на основе методики «PLS-SEM». В общей сложности в исследовательском проекте приняли участие 620 выпускников. Результаты указывают, во-первых, на то, что главным индикатором синдрома профессионального выгорания является эмоциональное истощение. Во-вторых, было установлено, что синдром профессионального выгорания оказывает существенное негативное влияние на профессиональную активность работника и его организаторское поведение. В заключение делается вывод о том, что профессиональная активность является своего рода посредником между двумя другими составляющими исследуемого проблемного поля. Подводя итоги, необходимо сказать о том, что данное исследование было призвано повлиять на ситуацию в данной сфере, вследствие чего станет возможным, за счет активного изучения феномена профессионального выгорания, улучшить показатели профессиональной активности и организаторского поведения представителей рассматриваемой целевой группы.
Ключевые слова: синдром профессионального выгорания, организаторское поведение работника, профессиональная активность, высшее учебное заведение.
Nowadays, due to massive revolutions in knowledge and technology, along with public expectations of better teaching and learning quality, academics are experiencing the urgent need to equip themselves to satisfy those demands. All these demanding expectations can ultimately lead academics to feel demotivated toward their jobs (Maslach et al., 1996). Malaysia has a multi-ethnic population of about 28.3 million, 20 public universities, 53 private universities and six international university branch campuses; 403 active private colleges, 30 polytechnics and 73 public community colleges (Data from 2011. See Study Malaysia, 2015). These Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) offer a wide range of tertiary qualifications at affordable prices. Malaysian higher education has developed extremely fast over the past two decades. However, with the speedy change and growth, the average annual turnover rate in higher education has risen from 12.3 % in 2012 to 13.2% in 2013, and the turnover rate in private universities is 18% (Willis Towers Watson, 2013). This might be a wakeup call for the academic development among higher education institutions. According to Chen et al. (2014), female, young and junior academics tend to have higher burnout characteristics in Malaysian private universities. In addition, lower total quality of working life scores was found among academics who exhibited burnout characteristics.
Traditionally, an academic staff member was considered a knowledgeable person whose main duty was to deliver information or knowledge to students and the public. Academics are considered frontline employees in dealing with students regarding academic, social and interpersonal relationship problems. According to Kandri (2020), the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic has been dramatic and transformative as educators scramble to a new service center, particularly in emerging markets, where students and schools face additional challenges related to financing and available infrastructure. Therefore, in the midst of a changing environment with new technology, teaching professionals in higher education has experienced great pressure to stay abreast of new knowledge and skills, or to undertake new tasks (Chen et al., 2014). According to Fyfee (2018), there is no consensus view about the nature of academic development or different points of view to discuss the current issue of an academic career and life.
In the social-psychological context, job burnout consists of three dimensions: 1) Emotional Exhaustion (EE), characterized by lack or shortage of energy, enthusiasm and a sense of resource depletion; 2) Depersonalization (DP), involving a lack of positive affective detachment from work, in which clients, colleagues and the organization of labour itself are treated as objects; 3) Low Personal Achievement (PA) at work, which visualizes a worker with a tendency to negative self-evaluation or a feeling of lack of personal success at work (Maslach et al., 2001). The phenomenon of academic burnout can be considered a ‘social activity’ with influence on the constitution of individual identity and also on individual development. According to Kolomitro et al. (2019), this is due to organization changes, budgets, and the academic experiencing frequent career disruptions, such as resignation and a changed career path. In this scenario, academics in higher education are forced to concern themselves not only with issues related to education, but also with issues related to economics and politics (Campos, & de Lucena, 2017).
Job burnout has been found to be devastating for the progress of an organization, particularly involving service to other humans, such as education, healthcare and the service industry (Chen et al., 2014; Chang et al., 2017; Kolomitro, et al., 2019; Willis Towers Watson, 2013). In general, job burnout produces negative impacts, from individual employees to entire organizations. It has been found to be associated with many psychological syndromes, e.g., depression, anxiety, musculoskeletal, respiratory disorders, insomnia, and alcohol consumption (Ahola, 2007; Sonnenschein et al., 2007). Additionally, job burnout negatively affects many positive work outcomes, including organizational commitment, organizational citizenship behaviour (OCB), job satisfaction, and work engagement (Cole, et al., 2012; Kasa, & Hassan, 2017). According to Gooblar (2018), in both part-time and full-time teaching positions, the more committed academics are to their professional career and institutions, the more likely they were to experience high levels of workplace stress, and to experience burnout, depression, and pressure.
In order to cope with increasing job stress, workload, and expectations from the public, HEIs have pursued an understanding of the nature of burnout and of the faculty turnover phenomenon in Malaysia (Ramasamy & Abdullah, 2017). Traditionally, scholars have discussed the measure of intention to leave or personnel turnover as indicators of the desire to remain with the organization (Kim, & Chang, 2014). In contrast to leaving an institution, we should mention organizational commitment, which strengthens the desire to remain with the organization. In addition, along with the expansion of the organizational commitment concept, occupational commitment has been recently receiving much attention (Kim & Chang, 2014; Sungu et al., 2019). The research paradigm has shifted from one’s organization to one’s occupation under recent economic conditions (Gobeski & Beehr, 2009; Jones & McIntosh, 2010).
Morrow (1983, 1993) has played a leading role in clarifying the various domains to which members of the workforce can be committed. Although organizational commitment has been extensively studied in the past, considerable attention has also been given to the commitment to occupation (Lee et al., 2000). Understanding occupational commitment is important because it contributes to the basic understanding of people to develop, make sense of and integrate work-related commitment, both within and beyond organizational boundaries (Meyer et al., 1998; Lee et al., 2000). In general, the terms occupation commitment, profession commitment, and career commitment have been used interchangeably in the commitment literature. Occupational commitment is considered as a psychological link between an individual and one’s occupation based on affective reactions to one’s occupation. Carson et al. (1995) and Carson and Bedeian (1994) applied career commitment and career entrenchment to define a professional’s tendency to continue in the same occupation. Therefore, the authors applied this approach to explore the level of occupational commitment among academic staff at a private university.
Organizations and employees typically form exchange relationships, such that employees exchange time to dedicate to organizational and job-related tasks for formal rewards such as salary and benefits (Brown & Roloff, 2015). However, not all workplace relations aim for formal exchange. OCB levels among employees are determined by contextual, dispositional and attitudinal variables by supporting organizational members in the social and psychological environment (Mohammad et al., 2016). OCB refers to a role that is concerned with behaviours that go above and beyond the official duties (Organ et al., 2006). When employees are willing to exert effort to surpass formal obligations, this will maximize the performance of both employee and organization. On the contrary, employees who have lower levels of OCB are not willing to go beyond the daily duties, thus increasing the negative organizational outcomes, such as low satisfaction, low motivation, and unhappy employees (Kasa & Hassan, 2017). Organ (1988) and Podsakoff and colleagues (2000) proposed five types of OCB: civic virtue, conscientiousness, altruism, courtesy, and sportsmanship. OCB involves various workplace behaviours which are beneficial for the organization but do not exactly benefit the employee through a formal reward system (Khazaei et al., 2011). Civic virtue represents an employee’s feeling of being part of the organization; conscientiousness is related to assigned tasks being performed with more than desired punctuality and perfection; altruism involves helping others at work; courtesy is manifested when its agent helps others by forecasting the problem; and sportsmanship is tolerating hurdles at work without complaint (Organ, 1988; Podsakoff et al., 2000).
The aim of this study is to investigate the relationship between job burnout, occupational commitment, and OCB at a private university in Malaysia. The underpinning theory of this study is the Conservation of Resources (COR) theory. The COR theory posits that individuals constantly search to obtain and/or maintain resources, such as self-esteem, support, security, time, and money (Hobfoll, 1989). According to Hobfoll (1989), individuals tend to experience stress when they are facing threats of losing these resources. This theory provides the foundation for an understanding of the mediating effect of occupational commitment between job burnout and OCB.
Job burnout is detrimental for any organization, as it results in individual negative impact, such as depression, anxiety, and somatic complaint (Ahola, 2007). Such a negative impact can also be found in organizational outcomes and performance, such as OCB (Atta & Khan, 2015), work engagement (Cheung & Lun, 2015), and collective efficacy (Avanzi et al., 2015). According to Maslach et al., (2001), there are three categories of burnout, namely EE (feeling of a lack of emotional resources), DP (feeling of lack of detachment from work in a non-human manner), and RPA (feeling of lack of success and achievement at work).
Job burnout has been observed as a strong negative predictor of OCB. It causes employees to experience a sense of lacking emotional resources, robotic manner and low achievement (Atta & Khan, 2015; Kutsal & Bilge, 2012); whereas OCB is the energetic behaviour that boosts organizational performance. Chiu and Tsai (2006) used 296 dyads of paired employees and leaders from twelve hotels and restaurants in Taiwan to examine the effect of job burnout and OCB. The study found a negative effect of emotional exhaustion and reduced personal accomplishment in OCB. Zaluska et al. (2018) conducted similar research in healthcare, education, and higher education in Poland. Both pieces of work revealed that job burnout has serious consequences for both individuals and the organizations they work in. This line of reasoning leads to the following hypothesis:
H1 Job burnout has a significant influence on OCB.
Morrow (1993) has conceptualized the different faces of work commitment, including job involvement, organizational commitment, occupational commitment, and work ethic endorsement. According to Aryee and Tan (1992) and Kim and Chang (2014), employees committed to their occupations have a strong work ethic and concentrate on their job. Ahn and Kim (2004) concluded that occupational commitment results in positive impacts on OCB. The relationship between occupational commitment and OCB can be analysed on the same track. High occupational commitment makes employees feel enthusiasm and motivation towards cooperation and helping behaviour. This line of reasoning leads to the following hypothesis:
H2 Occupational commitment has a significant influence on OCB.
In general, occupational commitment refers to individuals accepting the values determined by their chosen occupation and increasing their enthusiasm in their profession, all of which evokes positive work outcomes (Ballout, 2009; Blau, 2009). According to Lee et al. (2000), occupational commitment correlated with job involvement, job satisfaction, career satisfaction, work ethic endorsement, emotional exhaustion, reduced accomplishment and depersonalization. It was also found that in the nursing profession, job burnout showed significant influence on professional commitment (Chang et al., 2017). Klassen and Chiu (2011) used a cross-sectional survey design of 434 practising and 379 pre-service teachers. Their results revealed that self-efficacy, job burnout (stress), and the teaching context have influences on occupational commitment and intention to leave. This line of reasoning leads to the following hypothesis:
H3 Job burnout has a significant influence on occupational commitment.
OCB can be categorized into five clusters of behaviours (Organ, 1988). Employees exhibiting civic virtue behaviours are responsible members of the organization who actively engage in constructive involvement in the organizational practice (Organ et al., 2006). Employees exhibiting civic virtue behaviours are responsible members of the organization who actively engage in constructive involvement in the organizational practice (ibid.). Employees consume a considerable amount of resource allocation to improve their occupation in this globally competitive environment which prompts them to be more psychologically committed towards their occupation rather than towards the organization (Lee et al., 2000). The level of commitment embedded in an individual’s occupation simultaneously creates a level of competency and professionalism in the individual which prompts him or her to exhibit proactive behaviours such as OCB. Cheung and Lun (2015) examined the association between a work stressor (such as emotional labour) and OCB and the mediation of work engagement in this relationship; the study showed that the level of commitment has a mediation effect between emotional stress and OCB among Chinese teaching professionals. This line of reasoning leads to the following hypothesis:
H4 Occupational commitment has a mediating effect between job burnout and OCB.
The study measured job burnout, occupational commitment, and organizational citizenship behaviour among academics in a private university. The measurement for job burnout was adopted from the Maslach Burnout Inventory (Maslach et al., 1996), which consisted of three-core dimensions of twenty-two items covering emotional exhaustion, reduced personal accomplishment, and depersonalization. Occupation commitment was measured using a twelve-item scale developed by Carsonet al. (1995) and Carson and Bedeian (1994). Three dimensions comprising career entrenchment were defined: a career investment reflecting accumulated investments in one’s career success; emotional costs assessing the anticipated emotional costs associated with pursuing a new career; and a limitedness of career alternatives dimension gauging the perceived lack of available options for pursuing a new career. The items for OCB were measured using questions adapted from Organ (1988). Twenty questions were used to determine the level of OCB among academics in a private university. The questions included the five components of OCB: civic virtue, conscientiousness, altruism, courtesy, and sportsmanship.
All measurements included in this study used a five-point Likert scale of agreement (from ‘Strongly disagree’ to ‘Strongly agree’). The last part of the survey contained seven items related to the respondents’ demographic information, including age, education level, gender, race, teaching experience, nationality, and designation.
Participants and Procedure
Questionnaires were distributed to academics at a private university on its Perak and Selangor campuses in Malaysia from April to December 2017. The academics were spread over nine faculties, three research centres, and three institutes. The survey was strictly anonymous to ensure the privacy of the respondents. They were asked to put their completed questionnaires in a sealed envelope to ensure confidentiality. The envelopes were collected by the research assistant in each research room and faculty office. From the total population of 1115 academic staff for the survey, 635 respondents returned the questionnaire. After receiving the completed questionnaires, a pre-processing step was applied to remove incomplete or invalid data. The exclusion criteria included (1) an entire section incomplete; (2) fewer than half the items answered, or (3) all items answered the same. After removing incomplete or invalid questionnaires, a total of 620 completed questionnaires remained. Therefore, the final response rate for the survey was about 56%.
Partial Least Squares-Structural Equation Modelling (PLS-SEM) was employed for hypothesis testing using the Smart PLS 3.2.7 software (Ringle et al., 2015). Meanwhile, IBM SPSS ver. 23 statistical software was utilized for data entry and data screening, as well as descriptive analysis. No substantial outliers or missing data were detected during the data screening process.
A two-step approach was used to analyse the data via PLS-SEM (Hair et al., 2014). The first step involved the evaluation of the measurement model. The major assessments for the reflective measurement model included internal consistency, convergent validity, and discriminant validity. Once the measurement model had fulfilled the requirements for reliability and validity, the subsequent step involved the assessment of the structural model (Hair et al., 2014). A bootstrapping procedure with 5,000 re-samples was employed to determine the structural path significance. Additionally, other essential assessments of the structural model include effect size (f2), predictive relevance (Q2) and predictive accuracy as evaluated through the coefficient of determination (R2).
Slightly more than half of the respondents were female (52.4%). 45.6% of respondents were between 25-34 years old, 34.5% were between 35-44 years old, 12.1% were between 45-54 years old, 6.9% were older than 55, and lastly, 0.8% were younger than 25 years old. In terms of education level, 61.3% of the respondents were master’s degree holders, 31% were PhD holders, 6.7% had a bachelor’s degree, while the remaining 1% had professional qualifications. Among the respondents, 93.5% were Malaysians and 6.5% were expatriates. A majority of the respondents were Chinese (63.4%), followed by Malay (15.5%), Indian (15.5%), and other ethnic groups (5.7%). Approximately 56% of the participating academics were lecturers, 22.4% were assistant professors, 11.3% were assistant lecturers, 5.5% were senior lecturers, and only 1.1% were professors.
Assessment of measurement model
Job burnout and OCB were specified as reflective-reflective higher-order models and a repeated indicator approach was applied, whereby all the indicators of the first-order construct were assigned to the second-order construct as well. Table 1 demonstrates that majority of the indicator outer loadings of the constructs in this study surpassed 0.70. Indicator loadings that fell between 0.40 and 0.70 were retained if AVE met the minimum cut off value (> 0.50) and composite reliability (CR) exceed 0.70 (Hair et al., 2014). In the process of assessing convergent validity, eight items of occupational commitment (OCr3, OCr5, OCr6, OCr7, OCr8, OCr9, OCr11, and OCr12) and one item of personal accomplishment (PA1r) were discarded in order to meet the required criterion. The total indicators that have been deleted accounted for 16.7% of the total indicators in the model (< 20%), thus it is considered as acceptable (Hair et al., 2010). High loadings (>0.70) were found between the first-order and the two second-order constructs, except for sportsmanship. AVEs of the two second-order constructs (job burnout and OCB) were above 0.50. Table 1 shows that the composite reliability values for all the constructs in this study were beyond 0.70. As such, the result confirmed the convergent validity and internal consistency of the measurement model.
Table 1 Convergent validity and reliability results.
|Emotional Exhaustion (EE)||EE1||0.847||0.663||0.946|
|Reduced personal accomplishment (PA)||PA2r||0.700||0.501||0.875|
|Job burnout||Emotional Exhaustion||0.908||0.640||0.841|
|Reduced personal accomplishment||0.736|
|Occupational commitment (OC)||OC1||0.870||0.606||0.858|
Note: AVE (Average extracted variance), CR (composite reliability), OCB (Organisational citizenship behaviour)
Next, discriminant validity of the first-order constructs was examined, based on Fornell-Lacker criterion (Fornell, & Larcker, 1981). Table 2 shows the square root of the AVE (on the diagonal) is greater than the intercorrelations among the variables which provide adequate supports for the discrimination validity.
Table 2 Correlations and discriminant validity (Fornell-Larker criterion) of the first-order constructs
Note: OC = occupational commitment, reduced PA = reduced personal accomplishment
Then, discrimination validity of the second-order construct was assessed through the Heterotrait-Monotrait (HTMT) Ratio (Henseler et al., 2015). Table 3 indicates that HTMT values range from 0.486 to 0.547, which is lower than the threshold of HTMT0.85 (Kline, 2011) and HTMT0.90 (Gold et al., 2001). The results of HTMT inference showed that none of the confidence intervals encompassed a value of 1.00 (Hair et al., 2014). Hence, discriminant validity is well established, as each construct is distinct from each other.
Table 3 Discriminant validity – The Heterotrait-Monotrait Ratio (HTMT)
CI..90 (-0.484, -0.343)
|3.||Organizational citizenship behaviour||0.547
CI..90 (-0.448, -0.276)
CI..90 (0.692, 0.770)
Note: The values in the brackets represent the confidence interval, bias-corrected
Assessment of Structural Model
Results in Table 4 show that no multicollinearity problem existed in the structural model in view of the fact that all the Variance Inflation Factor (VIF) values were less than 5 (Hair et al., 2014). Job burnout was negatively related to OCB (β = -0.359, t = 6.956, p < 0.001) and occupational commitment (β = -0.442, t = 9.780, p < 0.001). On the other hand, occupational commitment has a significant positive impact on OCB (β = 0.273, t = 4.532, p < 0.001). As such, H1, H2 and H3 were supported. Both job burnout and occupational commitment explained 28.6% (R2 = 0.286) of the variance in OCB, which showed a substantial predictive accuracy as the R2 value was above 0.26 (Cohen, 1998). A total of 17.8% (R2 = 0.178) of the variance in occupational commitment was explained by job burnout, indicating a moderate level of predictive accuracy (Cohen, 1998).
Subsequently, the relative impact of the predictor construct on the endogenous construct was evaluated through the effect size (f2). Cohen (1998) recommended that f2 of 0.35, 0.15, and 0.02 should be regarded as large, medium, and small effect size (Cohen, 1998). Table 4 indicates job burnout has a moderate effect in producing the R2 of OCB (f2 = 0.149) and occupational commitment (f2 = 0.217). A small effect size was found between occupational commitment and OCB (f2 = 0.086). Next, the blindfolding procedure was used to determine the Stone-Geisser’s Q2 value for the predictive relevance of the model. The results from Table 4 signify that the model demonstrated adequate predictive relevance since the Q2 values for OCB and occupational commitment were 0.088 and 0.101, respectively, beyond the threshold of zero (Hair et al., 2014).
Table 4 Path Coefficient, effect size and predictive relevance.
|H1||Job burnout -> OCB||-0.359***||0.052||6.956||Supported||0.149||0.286||0.088||1.217|
|H2||OC -> OCB||0.273***||0.060||4.532||Supported||0.086||1.217|
|H3||Job burnout -> OC||-0.422***||0.043||9.780||Supported||0.217||0.178||0.101||1.000|
Note: OC = occupational commitment, OCB = organizational citizenship behaviour, S.E. = standard error, variance inflation factor (VIF), ***p<0.001
Results from bootstrapping analysis showed in Table 5 that the relationship between job burnout and OCB was significantly mediated by occupational commitment (β = -0.115, t = 4.209, p < 0.001). Hence, H4 is supported. The type of mediation was determined by calculating the Variance Accounted For (VAF), which is the ratio of the indirect effect to total effect. The total effect is -0.474 (direct effect -0.359 + indirect effect -0.115). Thus, the VAF is 0.327 (-0.115/-0.474) or 32.7%. The value falls in the range of 20% to 80%, indicating partial mediation (Hair et al., 2014).
Table 5 Mediation Analysis Statistical Results
|Path||Beta||Standard Error||t-value||Results||Confidence Interval Bias Corrected|
|H4||Job burnout -> OC -> OCB||-0.115***||0.027||4.209||Supported||-0.162||-0.072|
Note: ***p < 0.001, OC (occupational commitment), OCB (organizational citizenship behaviour), LL (lower limit), UL (upper limit)
From the analysis results, it can be concluded that occupational commitment may mediate the relationship between job burnout and OCB partially as seen from the path coefficient in Figure 1. Meanwhile, a global goodness of fit (GoF) measure for the PLS model was determined by calculating the square root of the multiplication of average communality and average R2 (Wetzels et al., 2009). Based on the GoF criteria, a value that is above 0.36 is viewed as substantial or large (Wetzels et al., 2009). The GoF value for the present research model was 0.378, indicating a good fit of the model to the data.
Note: ***p < 0.001, OC = occupational commitment, OCB = organizational citizenship behaviour
The overarching purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationship between job burnout, occupational commitment, and organizational citizenship behaviour (OCB) among academics in higher education. The PLS-SEM analysis results indicated a significant relationship between job burnout, occupational commitment and OCB among the 620 respondents participated in this study.
As anticipated, job burnout exerted significant negative influences on OCB (H1), as well as occupational commitment (H2). The present study attempted to explore job burnout and its constructs (emotional exhaustion, depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment) as predictors of OCB. According to Talachi and Gorji (2013), burnout is a psychological condition where people experience emotional exhaustion, a lack of personal accomplishment, and a tendency to depersonalize others. Similarly, our results show that emotional exhaustion is the most important indicator of job burnout, which signifies that academics feel a lack of emotion in performing their daily teaching and research work. The second is the depersonalization that causes detachment from their jobs on the part of academic staff, followed by reduced personal accomplishment which makes academics feel a lack of individual success in their academic performance. These results support the hypothesis that academics experiencing feelings of job burnout will have a low level of perception of themselves and will be unable to exhibit good OCB that are beneficial to the organization. Meanwhile, aside from sportsmanship, civic virtue, conscientious, altruism, and courtesy show strong factor loading toward OCB, as shown in Table 1. This suggests that academics and researchers who work for themselves can benefit from forming coalitions that provide both practical and psychological support (Dance, 2017).
Job burnout can also reduce an individual’s engagement and development in their work and commitment for voluntary work (Cole et al., 2012). A previous study on pre-service and practising teachers displayed high levels of stress and less overall occupational commitment (Klassen & Chiu, 2011). Our results reveal a similar relationship between job burnout and occupational commitment among academic staff at a private university. Academics are expected to deal with various parties, such as students, parents, colleagues, management departments, and the government. All these expectations and demands have become burdens to their academic career and personal life. Job burnout might lower the level of occupational commitment among academics due to the mismatch between their posts and the professional environment (Zaluska et al., 2018). In general, job burnout is a systemic weakening process as a result of exposure to a prolonged stress level. Constant emotional tension can damage the health of academics and cause low commitment in their career, thus affecting their in-role and extra role performance (Campos & de Lucena, 2017).
The third finding of this study is the impact of occupational commitment on OCB among academics. Occupational commitment provides a meaningful focus in the lives of higher education employees, additionally providing a clear landscape of how employees develop and perform in work-related contexts and beyond work-related commitment. Cohen and Liu (2011) found that occupational commitment has a significant effect on OCB and in-role performance among teachers at Jewish schools. Our results show that a high level of occupational commitment leads to greater extra-role performance, such as civic virtue, conscientious, altruism, courtesy, and sportsmanship.
Finally, this study is underpinned by the conservation of resources (COR) theory, which implies that a negative work situation (such as job burnout) could threaten resources such as work-related behaviour, health care, and other domains of life (Kasa, & Hassan, 2015). From this perspective, job burnout could lead to loss of energy (i.e. occupational commitment) and lack of motivation for better organizational outcomes (i.e. OCB). According to Mosadeghrad and colleagues (2011) and Soo and Ali (2016), employees suffering from stress and burnout will experience negative feelings about work, and thus show less commitment to their work, failing to contribute their best work performance by engaging OCB. Our results show that occupational commitment has a negative mediating effect on the relationship between job burnout and OCB. This implies that, although occupational commitment can reinforce positive influences on OCB, a high level of occupational commitment might induce job burnout that will lead to more negative influences on academics’ OCB.
Limitation and future research
This was an exploratory study focused on the relationship between job burnout, occupational commitment, and OCB among colleagues at a private university in Malaysia. The current study may be extended in several aspects. First, a longitudinal study design that covers more universities and academics would be beneficial to increase the reliability of data and prevent any confusion. Second, as all data from the questionnaires in this study were collected from the same respondents at the same time, a reversed item design could be adopted as a measurement tool to minimize common method variance. Third, the occupational commitment measure adapted from Carson et al. (1995) and Carson and Bedeian (1994) examined three dimensions of general job burnout. It might therefore be valuable to devise an additional measurement to further examine burnout of academics in the higher education sector. Further research may also examine the multi-dimensions of job burnout influence on other organizational outcomes, such as job satisfaction and work engagement. Lastly, the research of COR and job burnout has examined the impact on mood and depressive symptoms (Neveu, 2007). Therefore, this study tried to explore the influence of job burnout on occupational commitment and OCB. For the future, researchers can combine the positive and negative impacts into the study to provide clear pictures of job-related burnout and its outcomes in the future.
This study has focused on the influence of job burnout on occupational commitment and organizational citizenship behaviour (OCB), and the role of occupational commitments in the relationship between job burnout and OCB. Several interesting findings can be concluded from this study. First, a high level of job burnout was found in this study. In particular, emotional exhaustion has been most comprehensively encapsulated by the phenomenon of burnout among academics. Most academics today face lots of challenges from different stakeholders, including heavy teaching and publication requirements, and intense technology competition. Meanwhile, the nature of the higher education system makes academic life personal compared to other industries, which leads to the perception of depersonalization and reduced personal accomplishment. To reduce the emotional exhaustion, universities can consider providing some support system to reduce the emotional burden on academic staff. Next, to achieve a balance between research excellence and teaching quality, universities should promote cooperation among academic staff, such as encouraging co-publishing and team projects. Meanwhile, universities should not only value contributions based on research and publication; efforts towards teaching and helping students and the community should be recognized and rewarded. In general, the university should create an open and healthy working environment for academics.
Second, positive occupational commitment was found to lead to positive OCB. Academics in higher education with a strong commitment to their career tend to show extra-role behaviour, as they are willing to put in extra effort to support students, their universities and society. However, the positive effect of occupational commitment on OCB might be negated by job burnout as a result of a high level of commitment. In other words, high stress and burnout due to strong occupational commitment might actually demotivate positive extra-role behaviours such as OCB. In terms of managerial implications, a university should provide tangible resources (i.e. teaching and research facilities, teaching assistants, flip classrooms, on-line learning/ a massive open online environment) and intangible resources (i.e. support groups, open communication channels, less restrictions on the teaching and research environment) to reduce unnecessary stress and burnout. In a healthy and positive working environment, academics are willing to commit to their academic careers and contribute more, even when outside their job scope.
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About the Authors
Dr. Chen, I-Chi: Assistant Professor of Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Faculty of Business and Finance (Malaysia); Deputy Director of Division of Community and International Networking; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Ng Lee Peng: Assistant Professor of Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Faculty of Business and Finance (Malaysia); e-mail: email@example.com
Chong Chin Ann: Master of Philosophy candidate of Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org