Research Output

Opening the black box: A JD-R evaluation of job stress, fatigue and boredom among commercial airline pilots

  The job demands-resources (JD-R) model is utilised to evaluate the interactions between the job demands and job resources of commercial airline pilots in the UK. The model holds that interaction between specific job demands and job resources contributes to employee well-being either positively, through motivation (Bakker et al., 2010), or negatively, through health impairment (Xanthopoulou et al., 2007). Content analysis of data generated recently by in-depth interviews with 28 experienced airline pilots finds that job demands are mainly consequences of industry de-regulation and growth, with concomitant intensification of competition throughout the sector (Sarker et al., 2012). Key job demands are: managing increasing tension between commercial pressures and safety decisions; diminishing control over work-life balance through constant and fatiguing shift patterns; and stress related to personal debt incurred through necessarily self-funding initial training. Co-existing, key job resources are responses to perceived managerial distrust, centring on peer social support and the professional resilience of pilots.

The paper argues that pilots’ job resources are insufficient to counteract, or buffer (Bakker et al., 2005), the negative effects of their high job demands, thereby giving rise to health impairment. This research exposes the safety critical nature of pilots’ work, thus reinforcing the validity of utilising the JD-R model within this occupational group. In particular, airlines need to be cognisant of the exacting job demands that are evidently escalating symptoms of job stress, fatigue and boredom among pilots. Further, they arguably need to be more open with their pilots so as to discuss ways of better balancing their job demands and resources.

  • Type:

    Conference Paper (unpublished)

  • Date:

    09 November 2017

  • Publication Status:


  • Library of Congress:

    HD28 Management. Industrial Management

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    658 General management

  • Funders:

    Edinburgh Napier Funded


Grant, K., & Maxwell, G. (2017, November). Opening the black box: A JD-R evaluation of job stress, fatigue and boredom among commercial airline pilots. Paper presented at 10th International Conference of the Dutch HRM Network



Workplace stress, boredom, motivation,

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