Maimunah workplace relationships: Social support or stressor for supervisors and managers
Faculty of Business and Public Management
School of Management
This research explores what 'being different' means for women supervisors and what 'difference' means for both relationships and stress at work. A sub-cultural approach to organisations suggests that a non-gendered interpretation of relationships at work overlooks issues of diversity (Hatch, 1997). The individualistic and medically based discourse has dominated stress research in the workplace (Handy, 1996). Researchers have noted that although relationships at work are a stressor they propose that it is the individual's personality that moderates the impact or the experience of stress (Cooper, 1986: Cooper and Cartwright, 1994). Alternatively social support theory (Lim, 1996) suggests that relationships rather than individual attributes such as personality type may have a moderating effect on the experience of stress at work. However, both these approaches consider relationships and stress at work as gender neutral. The study examined the social support women supervisors received from their colleagues, superiors and subordinates. Their responses were critically examined and compared with those of their male counterparts. The results suggest that the cultural nature of the group, and the context of work and gender have different implications for the moderating effects of relationships on perception of stress by women supervisors.