Theory Y Embedded in Theory X: The Limited Role of Autonomy in Decreasing Perceived Stress among IT Consultants

Theory Y Embedded in Theory X: The Limited Role of Autonomy in Decreasing Perceived Stress among IT Consultants

Lars Göran Wallgren (Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden)
DOI: 10.4018/ijhcitp.2013100101
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Using the Job Demands-Resources (JD-R) model, this cross-sectional study tests whether the direct effects and interaction effects of job demand and motivators affect the level of perceived stress among information technology (IT) consultants. A web-based questionnaire survey was conducted among 380 IT consultants at ten IT consultancy companies in Sweden. The results showed that job demands, autonomy, and motivators are important factors that explain perceived stress among the IT consultants. Those consultants with a high level of job demands and a low level of autonomy had a four times higher risk of perceived stress than the consultants with the theoretically lowest level of strain. However, the interaction effect of job demands/autonomy and the interaction effect of job demands/motivators on perceived stress were non-significant. It is suggested that IT consultants’ autonomy exists within the demands dictated by others - Theory Y embedded in Theory X. Future avenues for research are suggested.
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2. The Job Demand-Resources Model

The JD-R model is a business model that integrates the job stress process with the motivational process as a way to improve both employee well-being and employee job performance.

The job stress process, a psychological process which is associated with workplace health, assumes that high job demands increase job pressure, leading to negative influences on organizational outcomes (e.g., draining an individual’s energy such that employee breakdown is the eventual result; see Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). Numerous studies have established the association between psychosocial work factors and (poor) health. For example, Cox, Griffiths, and Rial-Gonzales (2000) cite stress as one such factor that creates a negative psychological condition originating from the dynamic interaction between individuals and their work environment. Kalimo and Mejman (1987) conclude that stress often results from job demands that exceed employees’ abilities, from their frustrated aspirations, and from their dissatisfaction with organizational goals. In the JD-R model, job demands are associated with high work pressure, an unfavorable physical environment, and emotionally demanding interactions with clients (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007).

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