This investigation examined the dimensional sources and perceptions of occupational stress experienced by department chairs in institutions of higher education, and the influence of professional independent variables associated with these stressors. Surveys were mailed to 800 randomly selected department chairs at 100 institutions (523 surveys were returned representing a 66 percent rate of return). The Department Chair Stress Inventory (DSCI), consisting of 41 questions, identified five stress factors in the following rank order by stress factor mean: (1) faculty role stress; (2) perceived expectations stress; (3) administrative task stress; (4) role ambiguity stress; and (5) administrative relationship stress. Among the findings, it was determined that chairs who have high role ambiguity also experience high stress regarding their academic career, and that chairs who have high role conflict can be characterized as significantly more stressed in every stress factor than those chairs with medium or low perceived role conflict. The finding that relief from the occupational stress experienced by chairs is highly correlated with reduced conditions of role conflict and role ambiguity is viewed as the most significant finding of the study. An appendix contains the rank order of DCSI items. Contains 28 references. (GLR)
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (San Francisco, CA, April 20-24, 1992). For a related document, see HE 025 524.