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How Leadership Can Reduce the Rate of Burnout Among Law Enforcement Staff

US study published by Emerald analyses the relationship between stress and burnout in high-risk occupations and the role of leadership in moderating this relationship

United Kingdom, 29 April 2014 - It is no surprise that high-risk occupations such as law enforcement have been associated with officers suffering high levels of illness, burnout, absenteeism and premature retirement than other fields of work, meanwhile, leaders have been looking for ways to regulate these stressors and manage a happier workforce for years. Exploring the relationship between stress, burnout and leadership is the latest research, thought to be the only one of its kind, in the journal Management Research News from global academic publisher, Emerald Group Publishing.

The research, ‘An empirical investigation of high-risk occupations: Leader influence on employee stress and burnout among police’, developed by Lisa M. Russell, surveyed 379 police officers from nine US agencies and concludes that stress not only affects the individual concerned, but can also have a negative impact on an organization’s performance.

Statistical methods such as hierarchical regression analysis, multiple moderated hierarchal regression analysis and other statistical methods were used to produce findings that have strong implications for leaders in high-risk occupations where policy, bureaucracy and life and death decision making is quite the norm.   

Lisa M. Russell, School of Business, Indiana University Southeast and author of the paper, said: “Essentially, officers often work to accomplish tasks and organizational goals in exchange for leader recognition in the form of promotion, pay rises or verbal acknowledgement. But what is evident from the study is that the actual issue is more complex than originally expected. Transformational leadership appears to be effective at reducing burnout at lower levels of stress, but less so at high levels, therefore it is necessary not to just address leadership at this point, but also factors such as home life, interdepartmental practices and physical demands, which all exacerbate the rate of burnout alongside leadership.”

Management Research News is included in Emerald’s Business, Management & Strategy collection, which covers all major disciplines including management science, entrepreneurship, business ethics, strategy and international business. Information about the collection can be found by visiting

To read the study, which is available for free access until 27 May visit 

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About Emerald Publishing:
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Emerald Publishing was founded in 1967 to champion new ideas that would advance the research and practice of business and management. Today, we continue to nurture fresh thinking in applied fields where we feel we can make a real difference, now also including health and social care, education and engineering. We publish over 300 journals, more than 2,500 books and over 1,500 case studies, via our dedicated research platform


Nicole Mountain
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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