Job insecurity from a stress perspective : Antecedents, consequences, and moderators

University dissertation from Stockholm : Psykologiska institutionen

Abstract: The trend in working life to lower costs by reducing personnel or employing staff on short-term basis has brought uncertainty to many employment situations. Job insecurity is a phenomenon that has received growing attention in research as well as in working life. The present thesis considers job insecurity as a stressor. The focus is on the individual’s appraisal and interpretation of the situation along with the interaction that occurs between the individual and the situational characteristics in the shaping of this appraisal. The overall purpose of the thesis is to shed light on the concept of job insecurity from the perspective of transactional theories of stress. The first objective of the thesis was to differentiate job insecurity from objective indicators of uncertainty in terms of outcomes. The second objective was to examine the extent to which different background variables could explain job insecurity experiences. The third objective was to establish, using meta-analytic techniques, to what extent job insecurity has negative outcomes for the individual and the organization. The final objective was to investigate the influence of personality characteristics in the relation between job insecurity and stress reactions. Using data from four European countries, the results of the first study indicate that the individual’s perception of job insecurity was more detrimental to well-being than objective uncertainty. The second study showed that most demographics were weak or inconsistent predictors of job insecurity, but also that temporary employment and blue-collar work were associated with higher levels of job insecurity. The meta-analysis also confirms that job insecurity is indeed associated with negative outcomes for individuals and organizations. The last study showed that the influence of job insecurity cannot be attributed to the disposition of the person experiencing job insecurity. Future research should focus on factors that help the individual in dealing with this stressor.

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