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Wellbeing: A Complete Reference Guide, Volume III, Work and Wellbeing by Peter Chen, Cary Cooper

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Chapter 5

The Role of Workplace Control in Positive Health and Wellbeing

Erin M. Eatough and Paul E. Spector

University of South Florida, U.S.A.

Introduction

Control both inside and outside the workplace has long played a prominent role in research and thinking about stress and health. The focus on job control has been largely on how its lack can contribute to ill-health, as often it is low job control that has been shown to relate to disease and impaired wellbeing, and how it might buffer the adverse effects of stressful job conditions (i.e., stressors). Indeed low levels of job control have been linked to both physical illness such as cardiovascular disease (Bosma, Stansfeld, & Marmot, 1998; Karasek, 1979) and psychological distress (Spector, 1986). Certainly job control would be important if it merely buffered the ill-effects of adverse environmental conditions and events. However, job control also has the potential to contribute to positive health and wellbeing beyond the mere absence of physical or psychological disorder or illness. In this chapter we will explore the potential role job control plays in positive happiness, health, and wellbeing, as well as occupational adjustment and success.

The Nature of Control

Control can be conceptualized as both an environmental condition (e.g., one has the authority to purchase needed items from a department account) and a perception about those conditions, with both being important. Heckhausen and Schulz (1995) noted that humans are ...

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