Advertisement

Perceptions of Work-Related Stress and Ethical Misconduct Amongst Non-tenured Researchers in Italy

  • Oronzo Parlangeli
  • Stefano GuidiEmail author
  • Enrica Marchigiani
  • Margherita Bracci
  • Paul M. Liston
Original Research/Scholarship

Abstract

The relationship between stress and unethical behaviour amongst non-tenured research staff in academia is a relatively unexplored phenomenon. The research reported herein was therefore carried out with the aim of exploring the relationship(s) between stress, the socio-organisational factors which contribute to it, job satisfaction, perceptions of job instability, and the occurrence of unethical behaviour in research. 793 Italian researchers participated in the research—all of whom were working on fixed-term contracts—after being individually requested to complete an online questionnaire. The data indicate that unethical behaviours occur with alarming frequency. The stress level reported is quite high, as is the level of perceived job insecurity, both of which impact upon levels of job satisfaction. Perceived stress levels also seem to play a role in the commission of unethical behaviours, but this relationship is irrelevant when one considers the role of social and organisational factors that are known to induce it. Indeed, it seems that there are various socio-organisational determinants of stress that have an obvious direct negative influence on the commission of unethical behaviours more than the stress level per se. This research paints a worrying picture in relation to the psycho-physical state of non-tenured researchers as a result of the working conditions in which they find themselves in Italian universities.

Keywords

Socio-organisational factors Perceived stress Ethical misconduct Job insecurity Job satisfaction Research ethics 

Notes

Supplementary material

11948_2019_91_MOESM1_ESM.docx (132 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 131 kb)
11948_2019_91_MOESM2_ESM.docx (166 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 165 kb)

References

  1. Abildgaard, J. S., Nielsen, K., & Sverke, M. (2017). Can job insecurity be managed? Evaluating an organizational-level intervention addressing the negative effects of restructuring. Work & Stress, 32(2), 1–19.Google Scholar
  2. Adams, J. S. (1965). Inequity in social exchange. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (pp. 267–299). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  3. Agnew, R. (1992). Foundation for a general strain theory of crime and delinquency. Criminology, 30, 47–87.Google Scholar
  4. Allvin, M., Mellner, C., Movitz, F., & Aronsson, G. (2013). The diffusion of flexibility: Estimating the incidence of low-regulated working conditions. Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies, 3(3), 99–116.Google Scholar
  5. Ana, J., Koehlmoos, T., Smith, R., & Yan, L. L. (2013). Research misconduct in low and middle-income countries. PLoS Medicine, 10(3), e1001315.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001315.Google Scholar
  6. Aquino, K., & Reed, A. (2002). The self-importance of moral identity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83(6), 1423–1440.Google Scholar
  7. Beaujean, A. A. (2014). Latent variable modeling using R: A step-by-step guide. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  8. Bouter, L. M., Tijdink, J., Axelsen, N., Martinson, B. C., & ter Riet, G. (2016). Ranking major and minor research misbehaviors: Results from a survey among participants of four World Conferences on Research Integrity. Research Integrity and Peer Review.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s41073-016-0024-5.Google Scholar
  9. Brookes, K., Limbert, C., Deacy, C., O’Reilly, A., Scott, S., & Thirlaway, K. (2013). Systematic review: Work-related stress and the HSE management standards. Occupational Medicine, 63(7), 463–472.Google Scholar
  10. Carley-Baxter, L., Hill, C., Roe, D., Twiddy, S. E., Baxter, R., & Ruppenkamp, J. (2009). Does response rate matter? Journal editors use of survey quality measures in manuscript publication decisions. Survey Practice, 2(7). https://www.surveypractice.org/article/2948. Accessed January 25, 2019.
  11. Chandler, J., Barry, J., & Clarke, H. (2002). Stressing academe: The wear and tear of new public management. Human Relations, 55(9), 1051–1069.Google Scholar
  12. Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24(4), 385–396.Google Scholar
  13. Cohen, S., & Williamson, G. (1988). Perceived stress in a probability sample of the United States. In S. Spacapan & S. Oskamp (Eds.), The social psychology of health (pp. 31–68). Newbury Park, CA: SAGE.Google Scholar
  14. Coin, F. (2014). Turning contradictions into subjects: The cultural logic of university assessment. Knowledge Cultures, 1(4), 145–173.Google Scholar
  15. Cousins, R., MacKay, C. J., Clarke, S. D., Kelly, C., Kelly, P. J., & McCaig, R. H. (2004). ‘Management standards’ and work related stress in the UK: Practical development. Work & Stress, 18(2), 113–136.Google Scholar
  16. Couzin-Frankel, J. (2013). Shaking up science. Science, 339(6118), 386–389.Google Scholar
  17. Dalton, D., & Ortegren, M. (2011). Gender differences in ethics research: The importance of controlling for the social desirability response bias. Journal of Business Ethics, 103(1), 73–93.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-011-0843-8.Google Scholar
  18. Darabi, M., Macaskill, A., & Reidy, L. (2017). Stress among UK academics: Identifying who copes best. Journal of Further and Higher Education., 41(3), 393–412.Google Scholar
  19. Davis, M. S. (2003). The role of culture in research misconduct. Accountability in Research, 10(3), 189–201.Google Scholar
  20. Davis, M. S., Riske-Morris, M., & Diaz, S. R. (2007). Causal factors implicated in research misconduct: Evidence from ORI case files. Science and Engineering Ethics, 13(4), 395–414.Google Scholar
  21. De Jong, T., Wiezer, N., De Weerd, M., Nielsen, K., Mattila-Holappa, P., & Mockałło, Z. (2016). The impact of restructuring on employee well-being: A systematic review of longitudinal studies. Work & Stress, 30(1), 91–114.Google Scholar
  22. De Witte, H., Pienaar, J., & De Cuyper, N. (2016). Review of 30 years of longitudinal studies on the association between job insecurity and health and well-being: Is there causal evidence? Australian Psychology, 51, 18–31.Google Scholar
  23. De Witte, H., Vander Elst, T., & De Cuyper, N. (2015). Job insecurity, health and well-being. In J. Vuori, R. Blonk, & R. H. Price (Eds.), Sustainable working lives: Managing work transitions and health throughout the life course (pp. 109–128). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  24. DuBois, J. M., Anderson, E. E., Chibnall, J., Carroll, K., Gibb, T., Ogbuka, C., et al. (2013). Understanding research misconduct: A comparative analysis of 120 cases of professional wrongdoing. Accountability in Research, 20(5–6), 320–338.Google Scholar
  25. DuBois, J. M., Chibnall, J. T., Tait, R., & Vander Wal, J. S. (2018). The professionalism and integrity in research program: Description and preliminary outcomes. Academic Medicine, 93(4), 586–592.Google Scholar
  26. DuBois, J. M., Kraus, E., & Vasher, M. (2012). The development of a taxonomy of wrongdoing in medical practice and research. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 42(1), 89–98.Google Scholar
  27. Eastwood, S., Derish, P., Leash, E., & Ordway, S. (1996). Ethical issues in biomedical research: Perceptions and practices of postdoctoral research fellows responding to a survey. Science and Engineering Ethics, 2(1), 89–114.  https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02639320.Google Scholar
  28. Edwards, J. A., Webster, S., van Laar, D., & Easton, S. (2008). Psychometric analysis of the UK Health and Safety Executive’s Management Standards work-related stress Indicator Tool. Work & Stress, 22(2), 96–107.Google Scholar
  29. Fanelli, D. (2009). How many scientists fabricate and falsify research? A systematic review and meta-analysis of survey data. PLoS ONE, 4(5), e5738.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0005738.Google Scholar
  30. Fanelli, D. (2013). Why growing retractions are (mostly) a good sign. PLoS Medicine, 10(12), e1001563.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001563.Google Scholar
  31. Fanelli, D. (2015). We need more research on causes and consequences, as well as on solutions. Addiction, 110(1), 11–13.  https://doi.org/10.1111/add.12772.Google Scholar
  32. Fanelli, D., Costas, R., & Larivière, V. (2015). Misconduct policies, academic culture and career stage, not gender or pressures to publish, affect scientific integrity. PLoS ONE, 10(6), e0127556.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0127556.Google Scholar
  33. Fang, F. C., Bennett, J. W., & Casadevall, A. (2013). Males are overrepresented among life science researchers committing scientific misconduct. mBio, 4(1), e00640–12.  https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.00640-12.Google Scholar
  34. Fisher, S. (1994). Stress in academic life: The mental assembly line. Buckingham: Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Freeman, R. E., & Mc Vea, J. (2001). A stakeholder approach to strategic management. In M. A. Hitt, R. E. Freeman, & J. Harrison (Eds.), The Blackwell handbook of strategic management (pp. 189–207). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.Google Scholar
  36. French, J. R. P., Jr., Caplan, R. D., & Harrison, R. V. (1982). The mechanisms of job stress and strain. London: Wiley.Google Scholar
  37. Gillespie, N. A., Walsh, M., Winefield, A. H., Dua, J., & Stough, C. (2001). Occupational stress in universities: Staff perception of the causes, consequences and moderators of stress. Work & Stress, 15(1), 53–72.Google Scholar
  38. Guidi, S., Bagnara, S., & Fichera, G. P. (2012). The HSE indicator tool, psychological distress and work ability. Occupational Medicine, 62(3), 203–209.Google Scholar
  39. Hellgren, J., & Sverke, M. (2003). Does job insecurity lead to impaired well-being or vice versa? Estimation of cross-lagged effects using latent variable modelling. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 24(2), 215–236.  https://doi.org/10.1002/job.184.Google Scholar
  40. Jamshidian, M., Jalal, S., & Jansen, C. (2014). MissMech: An R package for testing homoscedasticity, multivariate normality, and missing completely at random (MCAR). Journal of Statistical Software, 56(6), 1–31.Google Scholar
  41. Jiang, T., Ge, H., Sun, J., Li, R., Han, R., & Liu, J. (2017). Relationship between occupational stress, 5-HT2A receptor polymorphisms and mental health in petroleum workers in the Xinjiang arid desert: A cross-sectional study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14(4), 402.  https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14040402.Google Scholar
  42. Kalichman, M. W., & Friedman, P. J. (1992). A pilot study of biomedical trainees’ perceptions concerning research ethics. Academic Medicine, 67(11), 769–775.Google Scholar
  43. Karasek, R. A., & Theorell, T. (1990). Healthy work: Stress, productivity and the reconstruction of working life. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  44. Kerr, R., McHugh, M., & McCrory, M. (2009). HSE Management Standards and stress-related work outcomes. Occupational Medicine, 59(8), 574–579.Google Scholar
  45. Kinman, G. (1998). Pressure points: A survey into the causes and consequences of occupational stress in UK academic and related staff. London: AUT Publications.Google Scholar
  46. Kinman, G. (2001). Pressure points: A review of stressors and strains in UK Academics. Educational Psychology, 21(4), 474–492.  https://doi.org/10.1080/01443410120090849.Google Scholar
  47. Kinman, G. (2008). Work stressors, health and sense of cohesion in UK academic employees. Educational Psychology, 28(7), 823–835.Google Scholar
  48. Kinman, G., & Jones, F. (2004). Working to the limit. London: AUT Publications.Google Scholar
  49. Kinman, G., & Wray, S. (2013). Higher stress. A survey of stress and well-being among staff in higher education. London: UCU.Google Scholar
  50. Kish-Gephart, J. J., Harrison, D. A., & Treviño, L. K. (2010). Bad apples, bad cases, and bad barrels: Meta-analytic evidence about sources of unethical decisions at work. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(1), 1–31.Google Scholar
  51. Klassen, R., & Chiu, M. M. (2010). Effects of teachers’ self-efficacy and job satisfaction: Teacher gender, years of experience, and job stress. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102(3), 741–756.Google Scholar
  52. Kline, R. B. (2011). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling (3rd ed.). New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  53. Komić, D., Marušić, S. L., & Marušić, A. (2015). Research integrity and research ethics in professional codes of ethics: Survey of terminology used by professional organizations across research disciplines. PLoS ONE, 10(7), 1–13.Google Scholar
  54. Langford, P. (2010). Benchmarking work practices and outcomes in Australian universities using an employee survey. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 32(1), 41–53.Google Scholar
  55. Lazarus, R. S. (1966). Psychological stress and the coping process. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  56. Lee, C. S., & Schrank, A. (2010). Incubating innovation or cultivating corruption? The developmental state and the life sciences in Asia. Social Forces, 88, 1231–1255.Google Scholar
  57. Leventhal, G. S. (1976). The distribution of rewards and resources in groups and organizations. In L. Berkowitz & E. Walster (Eds.), Advances in experimental social psychology (pp. 91–131). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  58. Marcatto, F., Colautti, L., Larese Filon, F., Luis, O., & Ferrante, D. (2014). The HSE management standards indicator tool: Concurrent and construct validity. Occupational Medicine, 64(5), 365–371.Google Scholar
  59. Marcatto, F., D’Errico, G., Di Blasi, L., & Ferrante, D. (2011). Assessing work-related stress: An Italian adaptation of the HSE management standards work-related stress indicator tool. Giornale Italiano di Medicina del Lavoro ed Ergonomia, 33(4), 403–408.Google Scholar
  60. Martinson, B. C., Anderson, M. S., Crain, A. L., & De Vries, R. (2006). Scientists’ perceptions of organizational justice and self-reported misbehaviors. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 1(1), 51–66.Google Scholar
  61. Martinson, B. C., Anderson, M. S., & De Vries, R. G. (2005). Scientists behaving badly. Nature, 435, 737–738.Google Scholar
  62. Martinson, B. C., Crain, A. L., De Vries, R., & Anderson, M. S. (2010). The importance of organizational justice in ensuring research integrity. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 5(3), 67–83.Google Scholar
  63. Martinson, B. C., Thrush, C. R., & Crain, A. L. (2013). Development and validation of the survey of organizational research climate (SORC). Science and Engineering Ethics, 19(3), 813–834.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-012-9410-7.Google Scholar
  64. McClenahan, C. A., Giles, M. L., & Mallett, J. (2007). The importance of context specificity in work stress research: A test of the Demand-Control-Support model in academics. Work & Stress, 21(1), 85–95.Google Scholar
  65. Moore, C., Detert, J. R., Treviño, L. K., Baker, V. L., & Mayer, D. M. (2012). Why employees do bad things: Moral disengagement and unethical organizational behavior. Personnel Psychology, 65(1), 1–48.Google Scholar
  66. Mumford, M. D., Connelly, M. S., Helton, W. B., Strange, J. M., & Osburn, H. K. (2001). On the construct validity of integrity tests: Individual and situational factors as predictors of test performance. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 9(3), 240–257.Google Scholar
  67. Nulty, D. D. (2008). The adequacy of response rates to online and paper surveys: What can be done? Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 33(3), 301–314.Google Scholar
  68. Opstrup, N., & Pihl-Thingvad, S. (2016). Stressing academia? Stress-as-offence-to-self at Danish universities. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 38(1), 39–52.Google Scholar
  69. Parlangeli, O., Palmitesta, P., Bracci, M., Caratozzolo, M. C., Liston, P.M., & Marchigiani, E. (2017). Stress and perceptions of unethical behaviours in Academia. IN Proceedings of ICERI 2017 conference, Siviglia, 16th18th novembre 2017.  https://doi.org/10.21125/iceri.2017.
  70. Pennock, R. T., & O’Rourke, M. (2017). Developing a scientific virtue-based approach to science ethics training. Science and Engineering Ethics, 23(1), 243–262.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-016-9757-2.Google Scholar
  71. R Core Team. (2017). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. https://www.R-project.org/. Accessed 30 June 2018.
  72. Redman, B. K., & Caplan, A. L. (2017). Improving research misconduct policies. EMBO Reports, 18(12), 511–514.  https://doi.org/10.15252/embr.201744110.Google Scholar
  73. Reisel, D. W., Probst, T. M., Chia, S.-L., Maloles, C. M., & Konig, C. J. (2010). The effects of job insecurity on job satisfaction, organizational citizenship behaviour, deviant behaviour, and negative emotions of employees. International Studies of Management & Organization, 40(1), 74–91.Google Scholar
  74. Revelle, W. (2017). psych: Procedures for Personality and Psychological Research, Northwestern University, Evanston: Illinois, USA. https://CRAN.R-project.org/package=psych Version = 1.7.8. Accessed 30 June 2018.
  75. Rondinone, B. M., Persechino, B., Castaldi, T., Valenti, A., Ferrante, P., Ronchetti, M., et al. (2012). Work-related stress risk assessment in Italy: The validation study of health safety and executive indicator tool. Giornale Italiano di Medicina del Lavoro ed Ergonomia, 34(4), 392–399.Google Scholar
  76. Rosseel, Y. (2012). lavaan: An R package for structural equation modeling. Journal of Statistical Software, 48, 1–36. http://www.jstatsoft.org/v48/i02/.
  77. Schreiber, J. B., Nora, A., Stage, F. K., Barlow, E. A., & King, J. (2006). Reporting structural equation modeling and confirmatory factor analysis results: A review. Journal of Educational Research, 99(6), 323–337.Google Scholar
  78. Selye, H. (1956). The stress of life. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co.Google Scholar
  79. Siegel, J. P. (1973). Machiavellianism, MBA’s and managers: Leadership correlates and socialization effects. Academy of Management Journal, 16(3), 404–411.Google Scholar
  80. Smith, R. (2000). An introduction to science and technology studies. Malden, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  81. Sovacool, B. K. (2008). Exploring scientific misconduct: Isolated individuals, impure institutions, or an inevitable idiom of modern science? Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 5, 271–282.Google Scholar
  82. Steneck, N. H. (2006). Fostering integrity in research: Definitions, current knowledge, and future directions. Science and Engineering Ethics, 12(1), 53–74.  https://doi.org/10.1007/PL00022268.Google Scholar
  83. Sverke, M., & Hellgren, J. (2002). The nature of job insecurity: Understanding employment uncertainty on the brink of a new millennium. Applied Psychology: An international Review, 51(1), 23–42.Google Scholar
  84. Taris, T. W., Schreurs, P. J. G., & Van Iersal-Van Silfhout, I. J. (2001). Job stress, job strain, and psychological withdrawal among Dutch university staff: Towards a dual-process model for the effects of occupational stress. Work and Stress, 15(4), 283–296.Google Scholar
  85. Treviño, L. K. (1986). Ethical decision making in organizations: A person-situation interactionist model. Academy of Management Review, 11(3), 601–611.Google Scholar
  86. Tytherleigh, M., Webb, C., Cooper, C., & Ricketts, C. (2005). Occupational stress in UK higher education institutions: A comparative study of all staff categories. Higher Education Research & Development, 24(1), 41–61.Google Scholar
  87. Van Emmerik, H., & Sanders, K. (2004). Social embeddedness and job performance of tenured and non-tenured professionals. Human Resource Management Journal, 14(1), 40–54.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-8583.2004.tb00111.Google Scholar
  88. Wartigg, S. L., Forshaw, M. J., South, J., & White, A. K. (2013). New, normative, English-sample data for the Short-Form Perceived Stress Scale (PSS-4). Journal of Health Psychology, 18(12), 1617–1628.Google Scholar
  89. Watts, J., & Robertson, N. (2011). Burnout in university teaching staff: A systematic literature review. Educational Research, 53(1), 33–50.Google Scholar
  90. Winefield, A. H. (2000). Stress in academe: Some recent research findings. In D. T. Kenny, J. G. Carlson, F. J. McGuigan, & J. L. Sheppard (Eds.), Stress and health (pp. 437–446). Amsterdam: Harwood Academic Publishers.Google Scholar
  91. Winefield, A. H. (2003). Stress in university academics. In M. F. Dollard, A. H. Winefield, & W. R. Winefield (Eds.), Occupational stress in the service professions (pp. 233–255). London: Taylor & Francis.Google Scholar
  92. Winter, R. P., & Sarros, J. C. (2002). The academic work environment in Australian universities: A motivating place to work? Higher Education Research and Development, 21(3), 242–258.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social, Political and Cognitive SciencesUniversity of SienaSienaItaly
  2. 2.Centre for Innovative Human Systems, School of Psychology, Trinity College DublinThe University of DublinDublin 2Ireland

Personalised recommendations