Title

Help boss, I'm stressed! Measuring types of perceived supervisor support and how they relate to subordinates' workplace stress

Date of Completion

January 2010

Keywords

Business Administration, Management|Psychology, Industrial|Sociology, Organizational

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

Much research has been devoted to the role social support has in the experience and management of workplace stress. However, this research is limited in the empirical development of a validated measure of the multiple types of social support a supervisor can provide to his/her subordinates. The present study aimed to develop a multifaceted measure of perceived supervisory support based on previous theoretical constructions. ^ Utilizing two different study samples, a 14-item scale was developed and validated measuring five types of supervisory support—emotional, appraisal, career, resource, and outside-of-work support. Exploratory analyses were run using data from a nation-wide internet survey sample while confirmatory analyses utilized data from a large state agency located in the Northeast U.S. ^ As predicted, the five-factor model demonstrated solid convergent validity with a global measure of supervisory support and divergent validity between its sub-facets. Structural equation modeling produced strong support for both a five-factor model and a second-order, five first-order factor model. Following two separate stress frameworks—Hobfoll's Conservation of Resource theory (1989) and Lazarus & Folkman's (1984) cognitive appraisal stress theory—this new measure's relationship with workplace stress was analyzed using both dominance and moderation analyses. ^ The dominance analysis provided further support to the discrimination between sub-facets and suggested that resource support was the most influential facet in the stress outcome variables assessed. Also, the dominance analysis demonstrated that the emotional support provided by a supervisor was the least influential type of social support. Minimal support was found in the moderation analyses. Implications for stress theory and organizational practice are discussed. ^