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Effects of Work Stress and Social Support on Information Systems Managers Author(s): Madeline Weiss Source: MIS Quarterly,

Vol. 7, No. 1 (Mar., 1983), pp. 29-43 Published by: Management Information Systems Research Center, University of Minnesota Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/249075 . Accessed: 08/08/2013 10:03
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Work Stress and Social Support

Effects of WorkStress and Social Support on Information Systems


Managers *

Introduction
Concerns over the impact of stress on the information systems (IS) manager's health and productivity are growing. Recent articles in popularjournals report anecdotal evidence that IS managers are experiencing increasing levels of work stress. A growing body of evidence is implicatingstress as an importantcausal agent in such health problems as coronary heart disease, gastrointestinal malfunction, cancer, severe nervous conditions, and neuroses. Job stress also has been linked to job dissatisfaction, job-related tension and anxiety, and reduced productivityand effectiveness [39]. Because of the potential consequences of stress on IS managers, upon whom organizations have become increasingly more dependent for effectiveness, this group of managers is importantto study. The purpose of this study is to begin more systematically to investigate the particular sources of organizational stress in the IS manager's job, the resulting symptoms of strain, and whether social support can reduce symptoms of strain. The results can provide a foundation from which we can develop strategies for reducing the detrimental stress and alleviating its impacts.

By: Madeline Weiss

Abstract
This study investigates the sources of organizational stress among information systems (IS)managers,the resultingsymptomsof strain,and whethersocial supportcan reduce symptomsof strain.A fieldstudy comprised of a survey questionnairewas chosen as the most appropriatedesign for this investigation. The respondents were IS managers, ranging in the fromvice presidentor director organizational hierarchy to project manager,in both governmental and private sector organizations of varying sizes. Thestudyrevealsthatjob stresses amongIS managers are positivelyrelatedto psychologicalandphysiological strains. While all of the stressors included in this investigation are significantly related to strain symptoms, certain stressors emerge as having the greatest impact. Likewise, certain strains that result fromthese stressors are more prevalentthan others. Concerningsocial support, the study reveals that the level of social supportamongIS managersis lowerthan among other managers. Whensocial support exists, strainamong these managersis significantly lower. The implicationsof the study's findings are considerableboth for the healthprognosis of IS managers and for theirjob performance.
Keywords: Information systems managers, organizational stress, social support ACM Categories: K.6.1, K.7.0, K.7.2 *The Ph.D. dissertationupon which this article is based received the awardfor the best dissertation of 1982 by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration.

The Effects of Stress


For this study, stress is defined as any condition that causes an individualto have a generalized psychophysiological response which deviates from a state of equilibrium[38]. Strain is defined as a psychophysiological response to stress, a response that deviates from a person's norm and may lead to illness [38]. The model of stress used in this study is presented in Figure 1. The variables used in this model are particularlyapposite to IS managers based upon a review of the literatureon organizational stress, especially among managers, and upon the author's experience working with IS managers. From left to right, the chart shows that stress leads to strain and strain leads to illness. Social support, personal characteristics and background, and organizational factors moderate the relationship of stress to strain.

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(.3

Moderators
* ** **

CO 0

Social Support

Personal char. and background: Type A Age Years of school. Sex


..

Org

(0

I,< co (0 0. c,
..\

cr 0

Occup. No. peo No. peo Type of

Stressors Organizational Overload Role ambiguity Role conflict Boundary role Responsibilityfor people amount of Inappropriate participation Lack of feedback Keeping up with rapid technological change Being in an innovative role Career development Orgl. structure and climate Recent episodic events *Independent variables * *Moderatorvariables *** Independent variables

* * *

Strain Responses Job dissatisfaction Psychological and physiological symptoms of strain

Figure 1. Effects of Stressors and Moderators on Strain Responses and Il

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Work Stress and Social Support

Implicitin this model is a psychosomatic approach which recognizes the fundamental interaction between mind and body in the production of diseases. The progression from stress to illness can be explained as follows. Regardless of the stressor, the chain of events triggered by the disruption to one's equilibriumor "homeostasis" is the same. Yet, each individual's outward response to stress will be unique. The chain of events that leads to the re-establishment of equilibrium in the individual involves the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system. These systems together create a number of interrelated changes in the body, including the speeding up of cardiovascular functions and the slowing down of gastrointestinal functions, thus equipping an individual to "fight or take flight." The frequent triggering of this response over prolonged periods of time strains the person's system, increasing the risk of illness or emotional dysfunction. This increases the likelihood that latent disease and emotional distress will become manifest. The amount of stress needed to trigger this chain of events and the illness which results differ for each individual,based upon such factors as heredity, personality, habits, past accidents, and illnesses [1].

* keeping up with rapid technological change, * being in an innovative role, * career development, * organizational structure and climate, and * recent episodic events. Table 1 provides a description of these stressors and references to previous research. Social support was investigated as the key variable moderating the relationship of stress to strain. Social support is defined as a flow of emotional concern, instrumental aid, information, and/or appraisal (information relevant to selfevaluation) between people. A person has social support in relationships with relatively frequent interactions, strong and positive feelings, and a perceived abilityand willingness to lend emotional and/or instrumental assistance in times of need [20, 21]. Implicitly,if not explicitly, much of organizational sociology and psychology over the past forty years can be interpreted as indicating that the experience of social support at work can reduce occupational stress and/or improve health. The human relations tradition of organizational research has emphasized that supportive behavior by work supervisors can improve both the morale and productivity of workers and reduce many forms of organizational stress [24, 27, 29, 30, 35, 43]. Studies focusing directly on occupational stress indicate that social support reduces work stress as well as psychological strains [8, 11]. Two categories of strain responses, (1) job dissatisfaction and (2) psychological and physiological symptoms of strain, were used as dependent variables. The first category was chosen because studies generally have found that perceived job stressors are positively related to job dissatisfaction [2, 3, 8, 22, 23, 32]. The second category was chosen because previous studies relate job stress to either psychological symptoms [5, 6, 8, 19, 21, 25, 34] or physiological complaints [1, 34].

Forces of Stress
While no previous studies have focused on the and resulting strains among IS stresses managers, research on managers in general has identified various sources of stress and strain responses. Those variables which seemed most relevant for IS managers were chosen for this study. Eleven sources of stress (stressors) were used as independent variables. They are: * overload, * role ambiguity, * role conflict, * responsibility for people, * participation, * lack of feedback,

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WorkStress and Social Support

Table 1. Independent Variables (Stressors) Used in the Study Stressor (Independent Variables) Overload Description References

Too much work or work that is beyond one's capability Inadequate informationconcerning expectations, authority and responsibility to perform one's role Superiors, peers, or subordinates place conflicting demands on the individual

French and Caplan [1 5] Margolis, et al. [33] Russek and Zohman [41] French and Caplan [14] Kahn, et al. [24] Beehr, et al. [3] Caplan and Jones [7] Caplan, et al. [8] Hall and Gordon [17] Kahn, et al. [24]. French and Caplan [1 4] Pincherle [37] Kasl [26] Margolis, et al. [33] Adams [2] Cassel [9] Ginzburg [1 6]

Role Ambiguity

Role Conflict

Responsibility for people Participation Lack of Feedback Keeping up with rapid technological change Being in an innovative role Career development

Responsibility for people's work, well-being, job security, and professional development Extent to which one has influence over decisions relevant to one's job Lack of informationabout job performance Keeping up with rapid changes in the informationprocessing field Having to bring about change in the organization Impact of status incongruence, lack of job security, thwarted ambition Certain life events, such as divorce and bereavement, that are highly stressful

Kahn, et al. [24] Lawrence and Lorsch [28] Brook [4] Eriksonand Gunderson [13] Kahn, et al. [24] Adams [ 1 ] Cobb [10] Holmes and Rahe [36]

Recent episodic events

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Work Stress and Social Support

Study Methodology
A field study comprised of a survey questionnaire was chosen as the most appropriate design for this investigation.' Of the 415 questionnaires which were mailed, 297 were returned, bringing the response rate to 72%. Fifty-six respondents reported that they were not IS managers. The remaining 241 respondents are used in the analysis. As outlined in Table 2, the mean age of the respondents is 42.5 years. The dominant percentage (82.99) is male. The education level is high (55.60 percent have Masters Degrees and 7.05 percent have Doctoral Degrees). While there is a range of occupational categories represented, the weighting tends to be at the more senior ranges, with 33.61 percent in the vice president or director category. Both governmental and private sector organizations of varying sizes are represented. Many respondents are members of the Society for Information Management. Indexes were created for each variable by totaling the Likert scale scores and then dividing by the number of items which measure that variable. Multiple regression statistical techniques were used to analyze the relationships between the various indexes. The coefficients in the various regression equations represent the impact of the particular independent variable index on strain. Since the indexes have similar properties (they are Likert-scale metrics), they can be compared across equations as well as across variables.

explored the specific organizational stressors among IS managers. In order to determine whether the stressors are and significantly to related positively psychological and physiological strains, the composite strain index is regressed on the composite stressor index. The resulting regression coefficient is both positive (the predicted direction) and significant. Table 3 shows the results of this regression. In this case, as well as in all others, a one-tailed test of significance is performed since direction is predicted. In order to determine which stressors have the and impact on psychological greatest physiological strains, the composite strain index is regressed on each of the stressor indexes. The results of these regressions are also shown in Table 3. In all cases the resulting regression coefficients are in the predicted direction; and in all but one case (episodic events), they are statistically significant. Of all of the stressors which show a positive and significant relationship with strain, several appear to have the greatest impact on strain. They are career development, organizational structure and climate, role ambiguity, and lack of feedback. In order to determine if the positive and significant impact of the stressors on the psychological and physiological strains remains even if we remove the influence of the other variables, the composite strain index is regressed on the composite stressor index, controlling for all of the other variables. As Table 3 indicates, the resulting stressor regression coefficient continues to be both positive and significant. The social support regression coefficient is in the predicted direction (negative) and significant. Two other regression coefficients show statistical significance in this regression: Type A personality and age. Since both of these coefficients are negative, it appears that the higher one scores in the Type A personality index (a measure of the personality tendency to be hard-driving, competitive, and achievement-oriented) [40] and the older one is, the less one experiences psychological and physiological symptoms of strain. The other variables which are included here do not achieve significance.

Results of the study


Hypothesis 1 states that job stresses among IS managers are positively related to psychological and physiological strains. The purpose of this hypothesis is to determine whether stressors in the IS manager's job environment are in fact causing strain symptoms, and if so, which stressors have the greatest detrimental impact. Once these stressors are identified, strategies can be developed to reduce or alleviate them. While previous studies have investigated organizational stressors, none has
'The questionnaire is available upon request from the author.

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WorkStress and Social Support

Table 2. Description of Respondents Characteristic Percent of Respondents 42.50 4.17 39.16 35.00 17.92 3.75 1.25 6.64 11.20 18.26 55.60 7.05 82.99 17.01 33.61 18.67 18.26 12.03 6.64 6.22 1.25 3.32 31.95 59.34 8.71 43.01 30.51 8.90 17.58

Age: Mean 23-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60-69

years years years years years

Educational level: Completed high school Some college Completed college Some graduate work Completed Masters Degree Completed Doctoral Degree Sex: Male Female Occupational category: Vice President or Director Department Manager Section Chief or Supervisor Project Manager Consultant (supervising others) Systems Analyst (supervising others) Programmer (supervising others) Other (supervising others) Type of organization: Governmental Private sector Other Organization size: 1- 1,000 1,001- 5,000 5,001-10,000 Over 10,000

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WorkStress and Social Support

Table 3. Regressions of Composite Strain Index on Stressor Indexes Regression of Composite Strain Index on: Independent Variable Regression Coefficient T Score R2 Beta

Composite stressor index Each of the stressor indexes

Stressor Overload Role ambiguity Role conflict Responsibility for people Participation Lack of feedback Keeping up with rapid technological change Being in an innovative role Career development Organizationalstructure and climate Recent episodic events

0.30 0.13 0.19 0.13 0.09 0.06 0.16 0.07 0.11 0.25 0.21 0.03 0.31 -0.16 -0.12 -0.01 -0.01 -0.08 0.02 -0.00 -5.53 0.02

8.06***
4.50*** 8.43*** 5.06*** 3.28* *

0.21 0.08 0.24 0.10 0.05 0.02 0.22 0.04 0.07 0.25 0.21 0.01 0.34 0.49 -0.17

2.06* 8.02 * * *
3.23* *

3.98*** 8.82 * * 7.73***

1.14
8.18* **

Composite stressor index, controlling for all other variables

Stressor Social support Type A personality Age Education Sex Occupational category Number of people supervised Organization size Type of organization

-3.00**
-3.42* -2.69* -0.39 -1.06 ** *

-0.20 -0.16 -0.02 -0.06 0.06 -0.07 -0.03 0.02

0.93 -1.16 -0.45 0.36

*p < .025.

**p < .005.

***p

< .0005.

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Work Stress and Social Support

Hypothesis 2 states that the level of social support among IS managers is lower than the level of social support among other managers. In a recent study of motivationalfactors among IS managers, Couger, Zawacki, and Oppermann [12] demonstrated that IS managers have significantly lower mean social need strength than other managers. Social need strength refers to the need to interact with others on the job. Since giving and receiving social support occurs in a social setting, a setting which IS managers may tend not to seek, it is hypothesized that IS managers do not ask for or give social support as often as other managers. In order to test this hypothesis, three social support indexes for administrators collected by Caplan, Cobb, French, Van Harrison,and Pinneau [8] in their study of occupational stress among 23 different occupational groups are compared with comparable indexes collected for IS managers in this study. A series of difference of means tests indicates that for each of the three indexes, the social support scores are significantly lower for IS managers in this study than for administrators. These results provide some evidence that the level of social support among IS managers is lower than the level of social support among other managers. Table 4 presents these results.

Hypothesis 3 states that when social support exists, it reduces strain among IS managers. Although recent research on social support is inconclusive, it has provided some evidence that -social support can reduce the levels of stress experienced and can alleviate the deleterious health consequences of such stress [21]. If social support can, in fact, mitigate the deleterious effects of stress, it has potential usefulness for this study for several reasons. First, despite the desire to reduce directly many sources of stress which may be identified, it may not be possible to do so. Many of the potential stressors result from the very nature of the IS manager's job (e.g., being in an innovative role and dealing with rapidtechnological changes) and from organizationalnorms that cannot be changed easily. Second, even if some of the sources of stress can be reduced, it may not be effective to do so. The IS manager is an agent of change in an organization that often must exist in and respond to a complex and uncertain environment. In such an environment, the IS manager can often bring about change more effectively in a more flexible and ambiguous role. So the elements of role conflict and ambiguity, which may be experienced as stressful, may help the IS manager. Third, organizations have to weigh the goal of reducing stress against competing goals and priorities. In

Table 4. Comparison of Social Support Indexes with Caplan, et al.'s Indexes for Administrators Sources of Social Support Immediate supervisor Other people at work: Peers Subordinates Spouse or cohabitant, friends, and relatives
**p < .025. ***p < .0005.

Study This study Caplan, et al. This study Caplan, et al. This study Caplan, et al.

Mean 2.70 3.06 2.98 3.08 2.59 3.46

N 241 252 241 253 241 252

Standard Deviation .99 .67 .60 .51 .85 .63

T Score 4.675 * *

2.000* * 12.794* * *

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Work Stress and Social Support

the past, the goal of reducing stress has often lost out in the weighing process. Thus, in the face of obstacles to reducing directly sources of organizational stress among IS managers, the potential of social support to alleviate the deleterious consequences of stress becomes importantto investigate. In order to determine whether social support is and significantly related to negatively psychological and physiological strains, the composite strain index is regressed on the composite social support index. As predicted, the regression coefficient is negative and statistically significant. Table 5 presents the results of this regression. Each of the two strain indexes (the psychological and physiological strains index and the job dissatisfaction index) is then regressed on the composite social support index. In both of these cases, the regression coefficients continue to be negative and statistically significant. The results of these two regressions are also shown in Table 5.

Next, a multiple regression is run to determine if the negative and significant impact of social support on the psychological and physiological strains remains even if we remove the influence of the other significant variables. As Table 5 indicates, social support remains both negative and statistically significant, providing evidence in support of this hypothesis.

Conclusions
Seven principal findings can be stated from this study. They are: Job stresses among IS managers are positively related to psychological and physiological strains. Certain stressors have the greatest impact on psychological and physiological strain among

Table 5. Regressions of Strain Indexes on Social Support and Stressor Index Regression Composite strain index on social support index Job dissatisfaction index on social support index Psychological and physiological strain index on social support index
Composite strain

Independent Variable Social support

Regression Coefficient -0.23

T Score -3.86 * *

R2

Beta

0.06

Social support

-0.28

- 2.98* *

0.04

Social support

-0.19

-3.24*

0.04

Stressor

0.30

7.89***

0.29

0.46

index on composite stressor index and social support index

Social support Type A personality Age

-17 -0.12 -0.01

-3.17* - 3.47*** -2.93**

.18 -0.20 -0.17

**p < .005. ***p < .0005.

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WorkStress and Social Support

IS managers. They are role ambiguity, lack of feedback, career development, and organizational structure and climate. Type A personality has a significant negative with psychological and relationship We IS members. strain among physiological would expect a positive relationship between these two variables, since a person high in Type A coronary-prone personality patterns would be expected to be highly strained. However, the opposite relationship occurs in this study: the more the manager reports Type A tendencies, the less strain is reported. A plausible explanation is that people with high Type A tendencies pursue life in such an over-involved and driven manner as to not consciously be aware of day-to-day anxieties. The frenetic pace of their lives may not allow for time to be anxious, depressed, or dissatisfied. Thus, when asked on a self-report questionnaire if they feel jittery, nervous, or fidgety, they report "no." Moreover, they may need to conceptualize their feelings as excitement in order to be able to continue their very high levels of involvement in their work. Yet despite the self-reports of low strain by IS managers with high Type A personality tendencies, there is cause for concern about their health risks. Researchers have consistently found that the risk of recurrent and fatal myocardial infarction is significantly related to Type A characteristics [40]. Age has a significant negative relationship with psychological and physiological strain among IS managers. In this study, the older the IS manager, the less strain is reported. There are several possible explanations for this finding. First, as one gets older, one may adapt to the stressors, thereby experiencing less strain. Second, a self-selection process may occur: as IS managers advance in age, those who experience a high level of strain may choose to change careers. and physiological Certain psychological strains are more prevalent than others among IS managers. Among the strains reported, those which appear to be most prevalent are: * let things slide, * feel restless concentrate, and unable to

* become less communicative, * feel irritable, * eat too much, * feel tense, uptight, fidgety, nervous, * have increased interest in sex, * feel tired, low energy, fatigue, * have misdirected anger, and * job dissatisfaction. Although increased interest in sex may not cause much concern, many of the other reported strains do. Some studies have linked job dissatisfaction with coronary heart disease, chronic illness, disability, and death [31, 42, 44]. Other studies have linked many of the other strains prevalent here with coronary heart disease, ulcers, gastrointestinal problems, respiratory infections, etc. [8, 44]. The relationship between strain and illness is well documented. The level of social support among IS managers is lower than the level of social support among other managers. This finding suggests that we can infer from Couger, et al.'s [12] finding of a low social need that IS managers may not be giving or receiving social support as often as other managers. It is also possible that this low level of social support is partly a result of living in a stressful environment. Research has provided some evidence that stress can lead to deteriorated interpersonal relations [18]. If the IS manager is experiencing a high level of stress, then the manager's immediate supervisor, peers, and subordinates will probably be experiencing that stress as well. Ifthe result is a deterioration in interpersonal relations, then social support would certainly suffer. When social support exists, it reduces strain among IS managers. Taken together with the results of other researchers, this finding bolsters the arguments of numerous theorists that social support does reduce strain. In the case of IS managers, this finding is both new and encouraging. Several implications for organizations emerge from this study. First, the results indicate that the excessive

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Work Stress and Social Support

various stressors being experienced by IS and managers are causing psychological physiological strain symptoms and job dissatisfaction. Since these strain symptoms are predictors of ill health, there is cause for concern for the health prognosis of IS managers. From an these strain perspective, organizational symptoms must surely be affecting the job performance of these managers. Such strain symptoms as being unable to concentrate; becoming less communicative; feeling tense, uptight, tired, low energy, excessive fatigue; and job dissatisfaction are indications that they are probably not performing at the high level required by their demanding and criticaljobs. Furthermore, since these strain symptoms predict future ill health, organizations should be concerned that the IS manager's job performance may deteriorate in the future. The intriguing finding that strain symptoms decrease with the age of the IS managers may mean either that these managers adapt to the strains with age or that these managers are leaving their jobs just when they become most knowledgeable and valuable to their organizations in their roles as IS managers. Where the latter explanation is true, organizations are paying a high price for the stress their IS managers are experiencing. Second, many stressors are causing strain symptoms. IS managers' remarks on the questionnaires in response to the request for comments shed useful light on the stresses inherent in the IS function. As a member of a service organization, the IS manager's role is to provide service to other departments. The manager must respond to frequently conflicting demands from other departments, many of which are seen as higher in the organizational power hierarchy, even when the IS function is headed by a vice president. Vice presidents of information services departments complain of being excluded from high level policy decision making; yet they must lead the efforts to create the changes decided upon in the executive suite. The recent proliferation of microcomputers by users intent upon doing their own computing is seen by many IS managers as a further attempt to undermine what little power they perceive they have. The four stressors identified as having the greatest impact on strain are inevitable consequences of this situation. Role ambiguity

results from dealing with conflicting, unclear, and volatile expectations from many users as well as having to bring about change under conditions of uncertain authority. Lack of feedback about good job performance is a natural consequence when user demand for services is greater than the IS function can provide. In this situation, users tend to focus on what they are not getting, rather than recognizing and appreciating the good service, and superiors in the IS hierarchy, under pressure from top management and users, tend to neglect interpersonal amenities. Even in the best of circumstances, people tend to neglect giving positive feedback. Career development concerns also follow in this environment where the IS function is frequently not treated as an equal with product-oriented functions. Traditionally,few IS managers have been promoted to the top, leading to concern about promotion prospects and fears of reaching a career ceiling prematurely in one's career. This setting also causes organizational structure and climate stresses, such as having to work within a bureaucratic organization which is slow to react to new situations, has poor communication channels, imposes restrictions on behavior, and is replete with political in-fighting. Particularly as IS managers move up the IS organizational hierarchy, they are faced with bringing about change in the face of pressures to maintainthe status quo and politicalmaneuvering.

These stressors are difficult to alleviate because they are so intrinsicallyrelated to the nature of the IS manager's job and environment. However, given a hospitable organizational climate, the following strategies can help. Management development programs can help IS managers to develop the skills and knowledge needed to move up the organizational hierarchy and work well across departmental boundaries. Since many IS managers have come up through the technical ranks, an effective program would emphasize trainingin dealing with people and other management skills. The program might also include formalized mentoring relationships where senior managers interested in the growth of others and in passing on what they know are paired with more junior IS managers. When senior managers are rewarded for this extra work, such relationships can increase positive feedback to both parties.

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WorkStress and Social Support

Succession planningis another method of allaying career stresses. Each key management position is analyzed and a development plan for key potential successors is implemented. Management feedback to unsuccessful candidates can also reduce stressful uncertainty by providing constructive suggestions on improving performance in the future. IS managers can take steps to increase their stature in the eyes of users and higher management by becoming more familiar with the organization's business and sounding less like technicians and more like business managers. They can increase their political acuity by accepting and learning how to work within the politicalsystem that is used so effectively by successful managers. In addition, IS managers can use the proliferation of microcomputers and higher level user-oriented software as an opportunity to reduce backlogs and ensuing conflicting user demands. By installing informationcenters where users can do their own programming and by providing training for interested users in informationsystems concepts as well as systems design and programming, IS managers can help users to create some of their own systems. By institutingworkable controls for software and hardware acquisitions and use, IS managers can promote greater user success while augmenting the power and influence of the IS function. IS managers can increase feedback through user satisfaction surveys and regular, well-structured user meetings. Such strategies can alleviate some career development concerns, reduce some organizationalstructure and climate pressures, and increase feedback from more satisfied users and less pressured superiors. The thirdimplicationof the results relates to social support. The finding that social support can reduce the strain symptoms being experienced by IS managers is particularly encouraging because we know that all of the stressors in the manager's environment cannot be reduced or eliminated. There is a high probability that IS managers can reduce their strain symptoms and ill health prognosis by increasing their effectiveness in asking for and providingsupport. Moreover, we know that improvement in the quality of interpersonal relations has far-reaching beneficial implications for organizational life in general.

Fortunately, methods are available to help individualsand organizations in this area. This study, the first on organizational stress among information systems managers, represents a starting point. While most of the findings are statistically significant, further research is now needed both to replicate these findings and to explore additionalrelated research issues. Following are some suggested areas for future research. The stress-strain relationship among IS managers should be explored further using additional variables, particularlydemographic variables that were not used in this study. For example, it would be useful to explore whether those IS managers who have been promoted from technical data processing jobs experience the same stressors and strains as those managers who have moved into the IS area from more traditional management backgrounds. Through future research, the variables used in this study, as well as additional ones, can be refined further so that we can learn more about the specific stressors, the resulting strains, and those variables (in addition to age and Type A personality) which affect the stress-strain relationship. The issue of causation among stress, strain, and social support should be explored further. While the model of stress used in this research is based upon past research and experience, other models of causation may need to be added to reflect the dynamic relationships among these complex variables. For example, symptoms of strain may cause IS managers to experience more pressure from various stressors in their environment and both symptoms of strain and stressors may result in lower social support. Finally,future research is also needed to explore further social support. We need to learn more about the processes involved in social support: why and how they reduce strain, and how we can increase social support specifically in the IS environment. But despite the need for furtherresearch, it would be foolhardy to wait until all of the results are in before beginning to explore strategies to alleviate the stressors in the IS manager's environment and to increase beneficial social support. The findings of this study are both statistically

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Work Stress and Social Support

significant and consistent with previous research on managers and other workers in general. Moreover, they confirm the author's own observations that stressors in the IS manager's environment are causing deleterious strain symptoms that have major implications for the health of these individuals and the functioning of their organizations.

[9]

[10]

References
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About the Author


Madeline Weiss is principalof Weiss Associates, a management consulting firm specializing in the behavioral aspects of management information systems and organizational development. She is also an adjunct professor in the masters program in management informationsystems in the Center for Technology and Administration at The American University, Washington, D.C. Her teaching and research focus on the behavioral aspects of management informationsystems. Dr. Weiss is past Chairman of the Capitol Area Chapter of the Society for Management Information Systems. Her publications include Computers and Business and "An Approach to Educating MIS Professionals in the HumanSide of Systems." She received her Ph.D. degree from The American University.

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