Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, March 2009; 34(1): 55–66
Applying equity theory to staff working with individuals with intellectual disabilities*
PHILIP DISLEY1, CHRIS HATTON1 & DAVE DAGNAN2
Lancaster University, UK and 2West Cumberland Hospital, Whitehaven, Cumbria, UK
Abstract Background This paper provides an overview of the empirical research on equity theory amongst staff working in services for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID). Method Relevant articles were identiﬁed by using the PsycINFO computerised database and by conducting manual searches of reference lists. Results Six studies were identiﬁed and reviewed. Staff often report that they feel under-beneﬁted in their work-based relationships. Associations were found between staff equity perceptions and staff outcomes such as burnout, absenteeism and intention to leave. Conclusion Previous research ﬁndings on staff outcomes are discussed within the context of equity theory. The implications of staff equity perceptions for ID services are discussed and possible directions for future research are forwarded. It is suggested that equity theory may have some utility as a theoretical starting point from which to develop a comprehensive theory to integrate various strands of research on stafﬁng.
Keywords: staff, equity theory, intellectual disabilities
Introduction Staff in intellectual disability services The past two decades have seen an increase in research relating to staff in intellectual disability (ID) services. This can partly be attributed to the central role staff play in the lives of individuals with intellectual disabilities, and the emerging view that ‘‘the experience, behaviours and attitudes of staff members are crucial determinants of the social ecology of residential environments and the quality of life of residents’’ (Ford & Honnor, 2000, p. 343). Research in this area has focused upon a variety of staff outcomes – deﬁned as the affective and behavioural effects of the work environment on members of the workforce. Research on staff outcomes has investigated, for example, stress, burnout, job satisfaction, turnover, absenteeism, staff behaviour, and performance. Varying degrees of attention
have been paid to these areas, with staff performance receiving relatively little attention (for possible explanations for the paucity of research on staff performance see Hatton, Rose, & Rose, 2004). Research on staff outcomes in ID services has generally followed three avenues of investigation. Firstly, research has investigated the level of occurrence of speciﬁc staff outcomes. Staff, for example, have often been found to report high levels of stress (e.g., Hatton, Rivers, Emerson, et al., 1999), low to moderate levels of burnout (e.g., Alexander & Hegarty, 2000; Mascha, 2007) and moderate to high levels of job satisfaction (e.g., Balcazar, MacKay-Murphy, Keys, Henry, & Bryant, 1998; Hatton & Emerson, 1993). High levels of turnover (e.g., Test, Flowers, Hewitt, & Solow, 2003) and low levels of interaction with service users (e.g., Cullen, Barton, Watts, & Thomas, 1983) have also often been found amongst staff.
*This manuscript was accepted under the Editorship of Roger J. Stancliffe. Correspondence: Philip Disley, Institute for Health Research, Alexandra Square, Lancaster University, Lancashire, LA1 4YT, UK. E-mail: email@example.com ISSN 1366-8250 print/ISSN 1469-9532 online ª 2009 Australasian Society for the Study of Intellectual Disability Inc. DOI: 10.1080/13668250802684701
P. Disley et al. had varying degrees of success in explaining speciﬁc staff outcomes within ID services. The theories used, however, tend to be applicable to only individual outcomes or a narrow range of outcomes. Little attempt has been made to integrate the various strands of staff outcome research (Hatton et al., 2004). Within the mainstream literature, a number of established theoretical...
References: Adams, J. S. (1963). Towards an understanding of inequity. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67, 422–436. Adams, J. S. (1965). Inequity in social exchange. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology, Vol. 2 (pp. 267–299). New York: Academic Press. Alexander, M., & Hegarty, J. R. (2000). Measuring staff burnout in a community home. British Journal of Developmental Disabilities, 46, 51–62. Allen, P., Pahl, J., & Quine, L. (1990). Care staff in transition. London: HMSO. Argyle, M. (1989). The social psychology of work (2nd ed.). Suffolk: Penguin. Bailey, B. A., Hare, D. J., Hatton, C., & Limb, K. (2006). The response to challenging behaviour by care staff: Emotional responses, attributions of cause and observations of practice. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 50, 199–211. Bakker, A. B., Schaufeli, W. B., Sixma, H. J., Bosveld, W., & Van Dierendonck, D. (2000). Patient demands, lack of reciprocity, and burnout: A ﬁve-year longitudinal study among general practitioners. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 21, 425–441. Balcazar, F., MacKay-Murphy, M., Keys, C., Henry, D., & Bryant, F. (1998). Assessing perceived agency adherence to the values of community inclusion: Implications for staff satisfaction. American Journal of Mental Retardation, 102, 451–463. Blau, P. (1964). Exchange and power in social life. New York: Wiley. Buunk, B. P. (1995). Equity theory. In S. R. Manstead & M. Hewstone (Eds.), The Blackwell encyclopaedia of social psychology (pp. 215–217). Oxford, England: Blackwell. Buunk, B. P., Doosje, B. J., Jans, L. G. J. M., & Hopstaken, L. E. M. (1993). Perceived reciprocity, social support and stress at work: The role of exchange and communal orientation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65, 801–811. Campbell, J. P., & Pritchard, R. D. (1976). Motivation theory in industrial and organizational psychology. In M. D. Dunnette (Ed.), Handbook of industrial and organizational psychology (pp. 63–130). Chicago: Rand McNally. Colquitt, J. A., Greenberg, J., & Zapata-Phelan, C. P. (2005). What is organizational justice? A historical overview. In J. Greenberg & J. A. Colquitt (Eds.), Handbook of organizational justice (pp. 3–56). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Cosier, R. A., & Dalton, D. R. (1983). Equity theory and time: A reformulation. Academy of Management Review, 8, 311–319. Cullen, C., Barton, M., Watts, S., & Thomas, M. (1983). A preliminary report on the nature of interactions in a mentalhandicap institution. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 21, 579– 583. Dagnan, D., & Cairns, M. (2005). Staff judgements of responsibility for the challenging behaviour of adults with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 49, 95– 101. Dagnan, D., Trower, P., & Smith, R. (1998). Care staff responses to people with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour: A cognitive-emotional analysis. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 37, 59–68. Dagnan, D., & Weston, C. (2006). Physical intervention with people with intellectual disabilities: The inﬂuence of cognitive and emotional variables. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 19, 219–222. De Kock, U., Felce, D., Saxby, H., & Thomas, M. (1987). Staff turnover in a small house service. Mental Handicap, 15, 97–101. Dyer, S., & Quine, L. (1998). Predictors of job satisfaction and burnout amongst the direct care staff of a community learning disability service. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 11, 320–332.
Applying equity theory to staff
Jacques, E. (1961). Equitable payment. New York: Wiley. Jenkins, R., Rose, J., & Lovell, C. (1997). Psychological well-being of staff working with people who have challenging behaviour. Journal of Intellectual Disability, 41, 502–511. Kulik, C. T., & Ambrose, L. (1992). Personal and situational determinants of referent choice. Academy of Management Review, 17, 212–237. Lakin, K. C., Bruininks, R. H., Hill, B. K., & Hauber, F. A. (1982). Turnover of direct-care staff in a national sample of residential facilities for mentally retarded people. American Journal of Mental Deﬁciency, 87, 64–72. Lakin, K. C., Hill, B. K., Bruininks, R. H., Hauber, F. A., & Krantz, G. C. (1983). Factors relating to job stability of directcare staff of residential facilities for mentally retarded people. Journal of Community Psychology, 11, 228–235. Larson, S. A., Hewitt, A. S., & Lakin, K. C. (2004). Multiperspective analysis of workforce challenges and their effects on consumer and family quality of life. American Journal of Mental Retardation, 109, 481–500. Larson, S. A., Lakin, K. C., & Bruininks, R. H. (1998). Staff recruitment and retention: Study results and intervention strategies. Washington, DC: American Association of Mental Retardation. Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer Publishing. Leventhal, G. H. (1980). What should be done with equity theory? New approaches to the study of fairness in social relationships. In K. J. Gergen, M. S. Greenberg, & R. H. Willis (Eds.), Social exchange: Advances in theory and research (pp. 27–55). New York: Plenum Press. Levine, J. M., & Moreland, R. L. (1987). Social comparison and outcome evaluation in group contexts. In J. C. Masters & W. P. Smith (Eds.), Social comparison, social justice, and relative deprivation: Theoretical, empirical, and policy perspectives (pp. 105–127). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum. Locke, E. A. (1968). Toward a theory of task motivation and incentives. Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 3, 157–189. Mascha, K. (2007). Staff morale in day care centres for adults with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 20, 191–199. Maslach, C., & Jackson, S. E. (1985). The role of sex and family variables in burnout. Sex Roles, 12, 837–851. McClelland, D. C. (1961). The achieving society. Princeton, NJ: Van Nostrand. Miner, J. B. (2003). The rated importance, scientiﬁc validity and practical usefulness of organizational behavior theories: A quantitative review. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 2, 250–268. Mowday, R. T. (1979). Equity theory predictors of behaviour in organizations. In R. M. Steers & L. W. Porter (Eds.), Motivation and work behavior (2nd ed., pp. 124–146). New York: McGraw-Hill. Patchen, M. (1961). The choice of wage comparisons. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall. Payne, R. (1979). Job demands, supports and constraints. In C. Mackay & T. Cox (Eds.), Responses to stress: Occupational aspects (pp. 85–105). London: International Publishing Corporation. Pierce, P. S., Hoffman, J. L., & Pelletier, L. P. (1974). The 4-day work week versus the 5-day work week. Comparative use of sick time and overtime by direct-care personnel in an institutional facility for the severely and profoundly disabled. Mental Retardation, 12, 22–24. Pines, A., & Maslach, C. (1978). Characteristics of staff burnout on mental health settings. Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 29, 233–237.
Porter, L. W., & Lawler, E. E. (1968). Managerial attitudes and performance. Homewood, IL: Dorsey Press. Robertson, J., Emerson, E., Pinkney, L., Caesar, E., Felce, D., Meek, A., et al. (2004). Quality and costs of community-based residential supports for people with mental retardation and challenging behaviour. American Journal of Mental Retardation, 109, 332–344. Rose, J. (1993). Stress and staff in residential settings: The move from hospital to community. Mental Handicap Research, 6, 312–332. Rose, J. (1999). Stress and residential staff who work with people who have an intellectual disability: A factor analytic study. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 43, 268–278. Rose, J., Jones, F., & Fletcher, B. (1998). Investigating the relationship between stress and worker behaviour. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 42, 163–172. Rose, D., & Rose, J. (2005). Staff in services for people with intellectual disabilities: The impact of stress on attributions of challenging behaviour. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 49, 827–838. Schaufeli, W. B., & Janczur, B. (1994). Burnout among nurses: A Polish-Dutch comparison. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 25, 95–113. Schaufeli, W. B., Van Dierendonck, D., & Van Gorp, K. (1996). Burnout and reciprocity: Towards a dual-level social exchange model. Work & Stress, 10, 225–237. Shaddock, A. J., Hill, M., & van Limbeek, C.A. H. (1998). Factors associated with burnout in workers in residential facilities for people with intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, 23, 309–318. Taris, T. W., Peeters, M. C. W., Le Blanc, P. M., Schaufeli, W. B., & Schreurs, P. J. G. (2001). From inequity to burnout: The role of job stress. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 6, 303–323. Taris, T. W., Van Horn, J. E., Schaufeli, W. B., & Schreurs, P.J. G. (2004). Inequity, burnout and psychological withdrawal among teachers: A dynamic exchange model. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 17, 103–122. Test, D. W., Flowers, C., Hewitt, A., & Solow, J. (2003). Statewide study of the direct support staff workforce. Mental Retardation, 41, 276–285. Tornblom, K. (1992). The social psychology of distributive justice. In K. R. Scherer (Ed.), Justice: Interdisciplinary perspectives (pp. 177–236). New York: Cambridge University Press. Van Dierendonck, D., Schaufeli, W. B., & Buunk, B. P. (1996). Inequity among human service professionals: Measurement and relation to burnout. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 18, 429–451. Van Dierendonck, D., Schaufeli, W. B., & Buunk, B. P. (1998). The evaluation of an individual burnout intervention program: The role of inequity and social support. Journal of Applied Psychology, 83, 392–407. Van Dierendonck, D., Schaufeli, W. B., & Buunk, B. P. (2001). Burnout and inequity amongst human service professionals: A longitudinal study. Journal of Occupational and Health Psychology, 6, 43–52. Van Dierendonck, D., Schaufeli, W. B., & Sixma, H. J. (1994). Burnout amongst general practitioners: A perspective from equity theory. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 13, 86– 100. Van Horn, J. E., Schaufeli, W. B., & Taris, T. W. (2001). Lack of reciprocity among Dutch teachers: Validation of reciprocity indices and their relation to stress and well-being. Work & Stress, 15, 191–213.
P. Disley et al.
Weiner, B. (1986). An attributional theory of motivation and emotion. New York: Springer-Verlag. Zaharia, E. S., & Baumeister, A. A. (1978). Technician turnover and absenteeism in public residential facilities. American Journal of Mental Deﬁciency, 82, 580–593. Zaharia, E. S., & Baumeister, A. A. (1979). Technician losses in public residential facilities. American Journal of Mental Deﬁciency, 84, 36–39. Zaharia, E. S., & Baumeister, A. A. (1981). Job preview effects during the critical employment period. Journal of Applied Psychology, 66, 19–22.
Van Yperen, N. W. (1995). Communal orientation and the burnout syndrome among nurses: A replication and extension. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 26, 338–354. Van Yperen, N. W., Buunk, B. P., & Schaufeli, W. B. (1992). Communal orientation and the burnout syndrome among nurses. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 22, 173–189. Vroom, V. H. (1964). Work and motivation. New York: Wiley. Walster, E., Walster, G. W., & Berscheid, E. (1978). Equity: Theory and research. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. Weick, K. E. (1966). The concept of equity in the perception of pay. Administrative Science Quarterly, 11, 414–439. Weiner, B. (1980). A cognitive (attribution) – emotion – action model of motivated behavior: An analysis of judgments of helpgiving. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39, 186–200.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document