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This chapter discusses how the control and strategic management of resources plays a role in the occupational stress process. Building upon prior resource theories of stress, the idea is developed that control of external and internal resources, and not resource acquisition or maintenance, is a vital element that contributes to a strain response to workplace demands. This can occur at the level of objective resources (resources needed to cope with demands), and it can occur at the level of perceived resources (the individual’s perception of resource control). The chapter also discusses the importance of resource management strategies that individuals engage in, as well as both internal and external resource management resources. Several common stressors are discussed in resource control terms, and the role of power and politics in strategic resource management is discussed.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
This chapter extends thinking about the role of resources in the occupational stress process by focusing on the control and management of both external and internal resources. This approach goes beyond current resource theories that focus more on the possession of resources than on their control and management. As noted by Freund and Riediger (2001), resource possession itself is not particularly helpful to individuals. Resources take on utility when they are linked to goals and are utilized in an effective manner. Furthermore, the acquisition and possession of resources can themselves consume resources. It seems unproductive for individuals to invest precious resources to essentially hoard other resources. Rather an effective resource management strategy would be to invest in developing control systems that can be applied in a just-in-time fashion to call upon resources necessary to meet specific demands. Thus as demands occur, the individual has the control over resources that can be allocated as needed.
An effective resource control strategy focuses on both external and internal resources. Developing internal resources can be done by acquiring knowledge and skill that is relevant for personal and organizational goals. External resource control can involve the use of power and politics that can build social capital. This can be applied in a positive way that enables an individual to be an effective performer through the control of human and material resources.