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Mediating Role of Job Burnout for the Relationship of Perceived Organizational Politics and Counterproductive Work Behaviors Among School Teachers.

Byline: Irsa Fatima Makhdoom, Babak Mehmood and Mohsin Atta

Present study was an empirical attempt to investigate mediating effect of job burnout in relationship between POP and counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs) among high school teachers (N = 453). Multistage sampling technique was used to draw the sample of 453 participants. Counterproductive Work Behavior Checklist-32 items (Spector et al., 2006), Perception of Organizational Politics Scale (Kacmar and Carlson, 1997) and Maslach Burnout Inventory-ES (Maslach, Jackson, and Leiter, 1996) were used to measure the pertinent constructs. Indirect effect of burnout was figured out using the bootstrap approach with 1000 bootstrapped samples.

Path analyses demonstrated significant positive impacts of POP and job burnout on CWB as well as the mediating effect of job burnout between POP and CWB. Job burnout was found to be a full mediator for the relationship of POP and CWB. Sobel's Z was also found to be the significant for the indirect effect of POP. Limitations and implications of the findings are also enunciated at the end.

Keywords. Perceived organizational politics, job burnout, counterproductive work behaviors, school teachers.

Perception of organizational politics (POP), which was traditionally considered to be a negative construct, in recent years has emerged as a construct which sometimes brings positive and sometimes brings negative results for the organization (Maslyn, Fedor, Farmer, and Bettenhausen, 2005). However, little attention has been paid towards the mechanisms which might be attributed to foster its negative or positive effects on organizational attitudes and behaviors (Huang, Chuang, and Lin, 2003). Present study was an endeavor to explore job burnout as a factor causing negative outcomes of POP on a workplace behavior that might cause counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs).

Perceived Organizational Politics and Counterproductive Work Behaviors. Those volatile, rather than intentional or accidental behaviors, which are aimed at hurting the organization and its stakeholders are collectively termed as counterproductive work behaviors (Spector and Fox, 2005; Spector et al., 2006). The labels enacted for such kind of behaviors include aggression, counterproductive work behavior, deviant work behavior, delinquent behavior, antagonistic behavior etc. (Fox and Spector, 1999; Neuman and Baron, 1997). The reason behind this difference lies in theoretical approach which gave bases for these constructs. CWB is a cluster of behaviors that include various kinds of damaging behaviors. For instance Fox, Spector, and Miles (2001) identified almost 64 types of work place behaviors which might be clustered under the umbrella of CWBs.

However, a finer-grained analysis of its dimensionality was carried out by Spector et al. (2006), who observed that CWBs can be classified into five chief categories viz. abuse against others (acts of physically hurting others either physically or psychologically or both); production deviance (intentionally not performing the assigned tasks in acceptable manner by the employee); sabotage (deliberately harming the property belonging to the organization or employer); theft (act of stealing); and withdrawal (giving shorter time than is required to the organization).

CWB broadly destruct the organization's repute, finances and other property, its welfare, health of its members, and the organization as a whole (Chappel and Di Martino, 2006; Greenberg, 1990; Vardi and Weitz, 2004). Health and well-being of the employees is strongly affected in the organization where a high degree of CWB is manifested (LeBlanc and Kelloway, 2002). Moreover, quality of work of other members who observe CWBs or are a target of CWBs have aggression and disrespect also decreases (Yang, 2008). These behaviors harm other fellow workers by causing anxiety among them, which lowers down their productivity and efficiency (Qiu and Peschek, 2010; Rodell and Judge, 2009).

Another adverse consequence of CWB is that, such behaviors are a source of organizational constraints in organization. It is therefore, employees who are the victim of CWB or observe CWB restrict help for the committer which obstruct the committer to perform his work smoothly (Porath and Erez, 2009), and ultimately organization bears the loss. Moreover, harming organization's property, equipment, and tools bring loss of equipment and facilities even for the committer himself.

The negative self-serving, organization-serving behaviors and acts of influence which put the interests of the organization or that of others in the organization at stake are termed as organizational politics (Ferris, Russ, and Fandt, 1989; Rosen, Harris, and Kacmar, 2009) and the perception of the degree of politics in the organization is known as perceived organizational politics (Kacmar and Ferris, 1991). Researchers have classified POP into three categories i.e., general political behavior (including all political self-serving behaviors which are aimed at achieving one's own goals), go along to get ahead (behaviors of being silent and taking no action in order to achieve one's goals), and pay and promotion policies (the perception that organization is unfair in its pay raises and promotions policies) (Kacmar and Carlson, 1997).

Perceived organizational politics has been found to yield certain negative effects on work attitudes, behaviors, and other outcomes. For instance, POP has been found inversely correlated with job satisfaction, organizational commitment, job performance, organizational citizenship behavior, satisfaction with services, trust in governance, job involvement and increasing the level of turnover intentions, and job stress (Delle, 2013; Jam, et al., 2011; Miller, Rutherford, and Kolodinsky, 2008).

It has also been witnessed that among teachers, POP heightened the level of counterproductive work behaviors. Many organizational variables e.g. work overload (Miles, Borman, Spector, and Fox, 2002), organizational constraints (Spector et al., 2006), organizational justice (O'Brien and Vandello, 2005), and job stress (Aftab and Javed, 2012) have been found contributing to CWBs in organization. Previous research and theory strongly support positive relationship in POP and CWB. But there is also contradictory evidence for the relationship of POS and CWB. For instance, Cohen and Diamant (2017) found that POP and CWB are positively correlated. These contradictory findings are indicative of the presence of a third variable in this relationship. A possible third variable linked with both POP and CWB is burnout.

Mediating Role of Job Burnout. Job burnout is a reaction to chronic stress which is characterized by emotional exhaustion (feeling of lack of emotional resources), cynicism (detachment from work in a robotic manner), and reduced personal accomplishment (negative evaluation of oneself about one's competence at work) among the employees who have to do some kind of people-work (Maslach and Jackson, 1981). It has been observed that people who work, in conditions where public dealing is frequent (for instance, nurses, doctors, bank employees and teachers), are more prone to job burnout. Specifically in a culture like ours, teachers are at greater risk to develop symptoms of burnout because in Pakistan, the teachers enjoy little if any prestige in the society but have to ensure a lot of extra-role duties (for instance duties on polling stations or duties during census).

Many organizational and occupational variables e.g., role conflict, role overload, job strain, lack of resources, job control and other high demands related to job may lead to job burnout (Anjum, Parvez, and Ahmad, 2017; Hatinen, 2008; Kwag and Kim, 2009). Perceived organizational politics is also an important contributory factor to job burnout. When the employees perceive that all their efforts and inputs are useless; and that there is always politics rather than merit which decides the fate of the employees, they begin to feel strain which leads them to the feelings of job burnout. Previous researches favor this notion by suggesting a contributory role of POP in development of symptoms of job burnout. For instance Vigoda-Gadot and Talmud (2010) observed a sample of university faculty members and Sowmya and Pachanatham (2012) studied a sample of bank employees and found that job burnout was a significant outcome of perceived organizational politics.

This increased level of job burnout then leads employees to practice work behaviors which are counterproductive. This process can be explained in terms of stressor-emotion model of CWB (Spector and Fox, 2005). The model articulates that environmental stressors result in perceived stressors which in turn lead to negative emotions and these emotions finally result in counterproductive work behaviors. Further, Bauer (2011) extends that guilt, shame, anger and frustration are some of the negative emotions which might direct the employees to develop emotion-focused coping strategies and hence, leading them to perpetrate CWBs. Therefore, it is not strange that the employees who perceive high politics, develop burnout which increases negative emotions among them and they, as a result, begin to commit CWBs. Therefore, the present study assumes that job burnout mediates the relationship between POP and CWB.

Although job burnout is a very important construct for teachers yet there is a deficiency in literature regarding its attitudinal and behavioral impacts for Pakistani teachers. The issue was highlighted by Aslam and Safdar (2012) who pointed out that there is more need of researches exploring behavioral and attitudinal consequences of job burnout in the Pakistani context. They observed that among bank employees, job burnout resulted in an enhanced level of turnover intentions in indigenous culture of Pakistan. Not only the individual impacts are harmful but its interactive impacts may be even more adverse for the organizations. For instance, Huang et al., (2003) found that job burnout mediates the relationship between POP and turnover intentions among a sample of employees in taxing department.

However, there is a dearth in literature exploring the role of job burnout in the relationship of POP and CWB but it is plausible to say, that perception of organizational politics might direct the employees to (a) increased burnout and (b) execute CWBs. Simultaneously, burnout itself can lead the employee to perform CWBs, so that to damage the organization intensely. Therefore, the study aims to explore whether job burnout is among the variables which cause POP to counterproductive work behaviors in Pakistani school teachers. In order to meet this objective, it was hypothesized that: Job burnout will mediate the relationship between perceived organizational politics and counterproductive work behaviors among high school teachers.



The sample comprised of school teachers (N = 453) including men (n = 234) and women (n = 219) school teachers. Sample was further categorized on the bases of sector including public (n = 201) and private sectors (n = 252). Graduate teachers working in their current school for at least six months were included in the study.

Assessment Measures

Following instruments were used in order to assess the constructs of the study:

Perception of Organizational Politics Scale. Perception of Organizational Politics Scale (Kacmar and Carlson, 1997) was used to measure the level of POP among school teacher. It includes 15 items which are to be responded on a 5-point Likert scale where high score indicates a higher degree of POP and vice versa. Reliability coefficients as reported by Danaaefard, Balutbazeh, and Kashi, (2010) ranged from .73 to .77.

Maslach Burnout Inventory-ES. Maslach Burnout Inventory Educator Survey (Maslach et al., 1996) is a teacher-specific version of Maslach Burnout Inventory. The scale consists of 22 items with response format of a 7-point rating scale ranging from 0 = Never to 6 = Everyday. Respondents are asked to indicate how frequently they have felt in consonance with the statements of the questionnaire. High scores on Exhaustion and Depersonalization and low score on Personal Accomplishment items indicate high level of job burnout. The reported reliabilities of the subscales are .90 for Emotional Exhaustion, .76 for Depersonalization, and .76 for Personal Accomplishment (Maslach et al., 1996). In present study, total score of job burnout was considered as indicative of job burnout.

Counterproductive Work Behavior Checklist-32. For the measurement of CWBs, Counterproductive Work Behavior Checklist-32 items (Spector et al., 2006) was used. All items are anchored on 7-point Likert scale where 0 = Never, and 6 = Every day. Reliability coefficient of the scale was .90 (Spector et al., 2006).


In order to execute the study plan, aforementioned scales were administered on the sample. The participants were approached through multistage sampling. First of all, the list of all registered public and private schools was obtained from Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education Sargodha. At first stage, cluster schools were selected randomly by using random order table. At second stage, cluster sampling technique was used where 6 boys and 6 girls schools both from public and private sectors were selected and at final stage, the participants were approached in the selected schools based on convenience. After taking permission from concerned authorities, the scales were handed over to the teachers in their offices or staff rooms.

After having informed consent signed, the teachers were requested to complete the questionnaires and the questionnaires were collected from them in the next visit by the researcher. The data collected was analyzed through SPSS version 22 using various statistical techniques (i.e., correlation, regression and path analysis etc.).


Table 1 Means, Standard Deviations, Alpha Reliabilities and Correlation Matrix for all Study Variables (N =434)

###Variables###M###SD###POP###CWB###Job Burnout###[alpha]



###Job Burnout###16.34###7.18###--###--###--###.81

Table 1 manifests means, standard deviations, alpha reliabilities and inter-correlations of all the scales used in the study. The Table 1 demonstrates that all the study variables are significantly correlated and that the scales possess good internal consistencies ranging from .70 (for POP) and .84 (for CWB).

A separate linear regression analysis for independent effects of POP on CWB suggests that POP is a significant positive predictor of CWB {F (1, 452) = 5.94, p < .05}, and ([beta] = .14, t = 2.44, p < .05). However, the Table 2 suggests that when indirect effects of job burnout are controlled, POP does not significantly predict CWB suggesting complete mediation. Whereas, the Bootstrap Upper and Lower limits indicate that the path 4 (i.e., POP predicting CWB through job burnout) is meaningful in a sense that job burnout is found to be a complete mediator for the relationship of these two variables. Moreover, the results of Sobel's Z are also significant for the indirect effect of POP where (Z = 3.65, p< .01.).

Table 2 Standardized Path Coefficients for Direct and Indirect Effects of POP (N = 453)


###Paths###Predictor Variable###B





###d###CWB###POP through JB###.09###.05###.14

The Figure 2 concludes that POP significantly predicts job burnout whereas, job burnout is a significant predictor of CWBs. When the effects of job burnout are controlled, POP does not significantly predict CWB. The Figure clearly depicts mediating role of job burnout in the relationship of perceived organizational politics and counterproductive work behaviors.


The study was carried out to examine the role of job burnout in occupational relationships of teachers in Pakistani schools. The researchers were interested in exploring three organizational variables including job burnout, perceived organizational politics (POP) and counterproductive work behaviors (CWB). Present study empirically verified mediating effect of job burnout for the relationship of perceived organizational politics and counterproductive work behaviors. It was hypothesized that school teachers perceiving high level of politics in the organization would indulge in more counterproductive work behaviors, however the relationship will be mediated through job burnout. The results supported the hypothesis as job burnout was found to be a complete mediator between these two organizational variables.

According to Baron and Kenny (1986), whose proposed model for mediation has been considered a classical model, first of all, independent variable should account for mediator variable. As seen from the Table 2 path b, considering the effect of POP on job burnout, is significant. Job burnout is a construct that is the result of chronic stress at work, and POP is always considered to be a stressor for the employees. Moreover, when employees perceive that the organization is highly politics, they consider that every act of the organization is based on political and thus, all their efforts, struggles and merits seem useless to them. Such perceptions may cause stress and lead to ultimately develop the symptoms of job burnout. These results are consistent with previous studies, which suggest that the employees, perceiving high level of politics, experience high level of job burnout.

For instance, Vigoda-Gadot and Kapun (2005) and Vigoda-Gadot and Talmud (2010) found that POP and job burnout are strongly and positively related to each other. Similarly, in the culture of sub-continent, Sowmya and Pachanatham (2012) found that bank employees who perceived high level of organizational politics had high level of job burnout, which suggest job burnout as an important outcome of organizational politics.

The path c, considering the role of mediator (i.e., job burnout) in accounting for dependent variable (i.e., CWB) was also found to be significant hence, the second condition was also fulfilled. The results suggest that job burnout significantly accounted for CWB among school teachers. It was not unusual to observe that emotionally exhausted teachers, having a cynic attitude towards their jobs, and enjoying less accomplishment in their work may lead them, tend to indulge in those activities which are aimed at hurting the organization. Theorists suggest that locus of causality shapes an employee's response to the organization (Martinko, Gundlach, and Douglas, 2002). As it is well understood, job burnout is the result of chronic stress at workplace. When employees find chronic stress at work, it is not strange to assume that the employees would tribute their causes of stress to more organizational rather than personal variables. Resultantly, their reactions would be more antagonist towards their organizations.

The result would be an increased level of job burnout. Previous studies also support these results. For instance Queiros, da Silva, and Teixeira (2012) found that among police officers job burnout results in increased level of aggressive behaviors. Similarly, in Pakistan, Aftab and Javed (2012) found that job stress (which ultimately results in job burnout) accounts for CWB at workplace. Similarly, it results in withdrawal behaviors (an important dimension of CWB) such as absenteeism through sick leaves (Schaufeli, Bakker, and Rhenen, 2009). In Pakistan, a study carried out by Makhdoom, Atta, Malik and Adil (2014) found that the components of job burnout i.e., emotional exhaustion, reduced personal accomplishment and depersonalization were significant predictors of many forms of CWB including withdrawal, abuse and sabotage.

The final condition for a mediated relationship is, according to Baron and Kenny (1986), that a previously significant relationship between two variables becomes non-significant when effects of a third variable are controlled. The results of present study meet this condition too i.e., POP significantly predicted CWB but relationship disappeared when job burnout was introduced in the model. It suggests that POP alone is not responsible for instigating CWBs among school teachers, rather it is the role of job burnout which results in enhanced counterproductive work behaviors among them. In other words, when employees perceive high level of politics, it works as a stressor and the employees in turn develop the symptoms of job burnout. As we have noted earlier, job burnout results in an increased level of counterproductive work behaviors. Therefore, the study concludes that employees who perceive politics are burned out by their jobs which in turn leads them to perpetrate CWBs.

The mediating role of job burnout has also been supported by the existing empirical literature. For example, Shkoler and Tziner (2017) found the both mediating and moderating effect of burnout in the relationship of organizational justice and work misbehavior, Cohen and Abedallah (2015) found that burnout mediated the relationship between self-efficacy and emotional intelligence with OCB and in-role performance. Similarly, Huang et al., (2003) studied the role of job burnout in mediating the relationship of POP and turnover intentions and found it to be a mediator for these two constructs.

Moreover, in contrast to most of the studies on the subject, the present study examined these concepts in an indigenous context, although literature is scarce, yet previous researches also support this relationship. For instance, in Pakistan, it was found that job burnout mediates the relationship of POP and turnover intentions among a sample of school teachers (Makhdoom, Malik, and Atta, 2015).

In conclusion, the current study found job burnout as a full mediator between perceived organizational politics and counterproductive work behaviors. The study observed that POP does not directly contribute for negative organizational behaviors (such as CWBs) rather it results in emotional stress related response (i.e., job burnout) which in turn leads the employees to indulge in negative workplace behaviors.

Limitations and Suggestions. The most salient limitation of the study is that, the study has used multidimensional constructs such as CWB, job burnout and POP as single constructs. However, such constructs are amalgamations of various sub-constructs. A more refined, finer grained analysis is needed to capture the true picture of results. Therefore, further researchers should go for the relationships between sub-constructs of these variables. Moreover, the sample was confined only to the schools of Sargodha. The researchers should focus on a broader, more heterogeneous sample of school teachers in order to increase the generalizability of the study. Further, only self-report data was collected during the study which increases the risk of social desirability. Next researchers should focus on multi-method approach for data collection from the teachers including supervisor-reported and colleague-reported data in order to minimize the effects of social desirability.

Implications. The study has important implications both for the theorists and for school teachers and researchers. At theoretical level, it concludes that POP results in negative workplace behaviors such as CWBs and that, job burnout links these organizational constructs. At practical level, it alarms the educational researchers, policy makers and heads of educational institutions to beware of the effects of POP and its resulting stress. The study suggests to control the effects of POP and that of job burnout or else the institutions will have to suffer a great deal by deviant workplace behaviors of teachers which are disastrous for the schools and other educational institutions. Not only the impacts of stress and the resulting deviant behaviors are harmful for repute and efficiency of the schools. It also has long-term deteriorating impacts in form of students who have to pay for such deviant workplace behaviors of their teachers.

Therefore, serious steps should be taken in order to control the effects of POP and job burnout for teachers.


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Publication:Journal of Behavioural Sciences
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Dec 31, 2017
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