Professor Bill Resh

MPA Online Faculty Research: Deconstructing Burnout at the Intersections of Race, Gender, and Generation in Local Government

MPA Online Associate Professor Bill Resh, along with Thai V. Le and Cynthia J. Barboza-Wilkes, examine the influence of individual identity on employee burnout through an intersectional lens. In their paper “Deconstructing Burnout at the Intersections of Race, Gender, and Generation in Local Government,” these Price researchers measure and model vulnerabilities to emotional exhaustion and loss of accomplishment.

Focusing on diversity within public organizations in two California cities, Resh, Le, and Barboza-Wilkes estimate the impact that one’s race, gender, and generation will have on various aspects of employee burnout. The study found that in particular, younger women of color are more vulnerable to burnout. Importantly, the experience of burnout is not the same across different groups, with some dimensions of burnout being more salient than others. 

As urban areas and the public organizations that serve them become more diverse, the team’s findings have important implications for best practices in both promoting public employee well-being and administrative efficiency. Their results highlight that the “intersection of gender, race, and generation creates meaningful distinctions in the experiences of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and loss of personal accomplishment.”


Implications of their Research

In an article about innovative solutions to mitigate work stress and burnout, Forbes cited the paper, noting that burnout is “‘a leading reason why local governments are struggling to keep workers and operate effectively.’” Forbes goes on to note that the study’s findings suggest that if the trend is not reversed, burnout could threaten governments’ provision of essential services. 

To learn more about Bill Resh, Thai V. Le, and Cynthia J. Barboza-Wilkes’ important findings, visit the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory.

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