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Opening Pandora’s Box

Stress at work and its implications for emergency management
  • Denis Smith
  • Dominic Elliott
Chapter
  • 134 Downloads
Part of the Advances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research book series (NTHR, volume 16)

Abstract

Within the last decade, stress has emerged within the academic literature as one of the key managerial problems within the areas of human resource management and occupational psychology. As the opening quotation suggests, stress has both acute and chronic properties. The worst-case scenario is that stress can ultimately result in severe illness or even in death (Palumbo and Herbig, 1994). Even the less dramatic manifestations of the problem can result in serious consequences by impairing the individual’s abilities to cope. The costs of stressrelated illness can be considerable. One estimate suggests that it could cost up to £1.3 billion, annually, in the UK alone (Summers, 1990). The phenomenon of stress transcends the private-public sector divide and is manifested across the range of occupational classifications. Despite the apparently high frequency of its occurrence, the concept is largely poorly defined and the literature indicates the existence of a number of paradigmatic camps. Unpacking this concept, and its associated managerial implications, is akin to opening Pandora’s Box (Elliott and Smith, 1993a). At one level the concept must be examined in order to provide a greater understanding of the issues although it soon becomes rapidly apparent that the problem is seemingly trans-scientific in that it goes beyond the current abilities of science to prove_(Weinberg, 1972). At a cynical level, one could argue that stress has become the latter day equivalent of a bad back as a means of having paid time off work. Its symptoms art easy to manifest whilst diagnosis and causality are difficult to prove. A more balanced view would suggest tha rapid change in organizations — typified by the last 15 years in the UK — create stressors for the workforce, which may become manifested as an apparent inability to cope.

Keywords

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Emergency Service Disaster Management General Health Questionnaire Occupational Stress 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Denis Smith
    • 1
  • Dominic Elliott
    • 1
  1. 1.Sheffield University Management SchoolSheffieldUK

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