The image of job burnout - A qualitative study of how social caseworkers in Taiwan perceive job burnout

University essay from Lunds universitet/Socialhögskolan

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to investigate how social caseworkers perceive job burnout (or work exhaustion). Three questions were addressed in this study: - How do social caseworkers’ perceptions of work exhaustion relate to all the efforts they invest in helping clients and the perceived response/lack of response these investments generate? - How do social caseworkers perceive work exhaustion in relation to the organisational culture? - How do social caseworkers construct “desirable” work situations contrasting work exhaustion? Results indicated that due to differences of cultures and societies, social caseworkers in Taiwan may not have precisely the same interpretation of job burnout as Western countries. In Taiwan, job burnout is more commonly understood as work exhaustion. From the perspective of the modified social exchange model in this study, reciprocity/lack of reciprocity plays a primary role in social caseworkers’ perception to work exhaustion. How social caseworkers perceive work exhaustion relates to the imbalance between their investment and the perceived rewards that their investment generate both on the interpersonal and organisational levels. Factors such as a lack of perceived control, value conflicts, and perceived work overload may hazard the reciprocity that social caseworkers strive for. This study also found that social caseworkers may construct their desirable work situations in two diverse approaches, as the results showed two categories of work satisfaction – a coping strategy to work exhaustion or the original work aspiration.

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