I shouldn't have to do this: Illegitimate tasks as a stressor in relation to organizational control and resource deficits

Björk, Lisa; Bejerot, Eva; Jacobshagen, Nicola; Härenstam, Annika (2013). I shouldn't have to do this: Illegitimate tasks as a stressor in relation to organizational control and resource deficits. Work & Stress, 27(3), pp. 262-277. Taylor & Francis 10.1080/02678373.2013.818291

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The performance of tasks that are perceived as unnecessary or unreasonable, illegitimate tasks, represents a new stressor concept that refers to assignments that violate the norms associated with the role requirements of professional work. Research has shown that illegitimate tasks are associated with stress and counterproductive work behaviour. The purpose of this study was to provide insight into the contribution of characteristics of the organization on the prevalence of illegitimate tasks in the work of frontline and middle managers. Using the Bern Illegitimate Task Scale (BITS) in a sample of 440 local government operations managers in 28 different organizations in Sweden, this study supports the theoretical assumptions that illegitimate tasks are positively related to stress and negatively related to satisfaction with work performance. Results further show that 10% of the variance in illegitimate tasks can be attributed to the organization where the managers work. Multilevel referential analysis showed that the more the organization was characterized by competition for resources between units, unfair and arbitrary resource allocation and obscure decisional structure, the more illegitimate tasks managers reported. These results should be valuable for strategic-level management since they indicate that illegitimate tasks can be counteracted by means of the organization of work.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Work and Organisational Psychology

UniBE Contributor:

Jacobshagen, Nicola


100 Philosophy > 150 Psychology




Taylor & Francis




Nicola Jacobshagen

Date Deposited:

02 May 2014 17:11

Last Modified:

26 Oct 2015 11:38

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

illegitimate tasks, role; management, work organization, multilevel analysis, resource deficits, work-related stress





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