The Downside of High Status: Relating Status Level and Coworker Status to Stress in the Workplace
39 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2018
Date Written: September 2, 2018
Informal status is an important aspect of organizational life. The many advantages of having higher status relative to one’s coworkers are well documented. This study extends research on status to hypothesize and show a downside of high status: stress. The study observed naturally occurring status hierarchies within a telecommunications organization in the Western U.S. and found that higher levels of status were positively related to higher levels of stress, after controlling for friendship levels, education, formal job level, tenure, job satisfaction, and perceptions of the organization’s culture. This effect was moderated by status distance, a dispersion measure drawn from the literature on relational demography, that shows how close in status a given individual is to the other individuals on his or her team. Specifically, high-status participants experienced more stress when on teams comprised of high-status others, as compared to low-status others. Implications for both practice and theory are discussed.
Keywords: status, status distance, status characteristics, social identity theory, stress
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation