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Johannes Siegrist

Work & Organisational Psychology

Work stress and health in a globalized economy: The contribution of situational and personal factors.


Work stress and health in a globalized economy:

The contribution of situational and personal factors


With the advent of new technologies and economic globalization significant changes occurred in the nature of work and employment. While some of these changes exert positive effects on working people’s health, there are also threats that adversely affect their health and wellbeing.

To identify these threats more accurately theoretical models derived from sociology and psychology are needed. Well-known theoretical concepts such as ‘demand-control’ or ‘organization injustice’ focus on extrinsic, situational aspects, thus neglecting people’s coping. with their job. Other models, in particular ‘demand-resources’ and ‘effort-reward imbalance’, consider both situational and personal factors.

In this lecture, evidence on health-adverse effects resulting from effort-reward imbalance at work is presented and discussed for three reasons:

First, this model includes a personal pattern of coping with work demands termed ‘over-commitment’. This pattern is assumed to have a direct effect on health and, in addition, to moderate the association of effort and reward with health.

Second, the effort-reward imbalance model has been examined extensively in epidemiological cohort studies as well as in experimental and quasi-experimental investigations, thus presenting a solid body of knowledge.

Third, while major research was carried out in Western societies, findings are now available from studies conducted in rapidly developing countries in different parts of the world. This offers a unique opportunity to test the model’s cross-cultural validity, a test that is particularly relevant in times of economic globalization where stressful working conditions tend to expand over the globe.

The final part addresses policy implications that can be derived from this new knowledge. Whereas a major focus is put on interventions at the level of organizational change and personnel development additional investments are required at the level of national and international labour and social policies in order to reduce the burden of work-related diseases and to strengthen working people’s health and wellbeing.

Short Bio of Johannes Siegrist, Ph.D.

Johannes Siegrist, born in Switzerland in 1943, is a Senior Professor of Work Stress Research at the University of Duesseldorf, Germany. Previously, he was Professor of Medical Sociology and Director of the Postgraduate School of Public Health at Duesseldorf University. His main research is devoted to the study of adverse effects of modern working conditions on health, being the author of the ‘effort-reward imbalance’ model.

His publications include some 500 papers and book chapters as well as several books and reports. Among other distinctions he is Fellow of Academia Europaea (London), Corresponding Member of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, and Fellow of the European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology.


Work and Organisational Psychology