Occupational stress in the community college: an exploratory study

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Occupational stress is a contemporary phenomenon worthy of study. Inquiry into this problem thus far has been limited to occupations other than those of higher education, and particularly lacking is research and theory in community colleges. Occupational stress can have a detrimental effect on employees, the organizations as a whole, and ultimately, society in general.

This research examines the phenomenon of occupational stress among professional community college employees in administrative and instructional roles. Using the grounded theory research technique of Glaser and Strauss, 27 community college personnel across four functional levels were interviewed. Findings identify factors within employees' perception of barriers to fulfillment of role expectation that can affect and contribute to perceived stress stemming from their roles in community colleges. A theoretical framework is developed which focuses on barriers to role fulfillment, factors external to the individual that comprise those barriers, their sources, and the interactions and relationships that result in stress.