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A study was conducted to determine whether prior research had accurately conceptualised community correctional officers' experience of role conflict on the basis of officers' role preferences. It was hypothesised that officers who were welfare workers or punitive officers would experience inter-role conflict while those who attempted to combine the welfare and punitive roles (protective agents) would experience intra-role conflict and role ambiguity. Furthermore, an exploration of how inter-role conflict, intra-role conflict, role ambiguity, and officers' role preferences were related to occupational burnout was conducted. It was found in this study that officers' preferences for the role of welfare worker, protective agent, or punitive officer were not related to the level of inter-role conflict, intra-role conflict, or role ambiguity experienced by officers. Officers' role preferences were not related to burnout. Inter-role conflict and intra-role conflict were associated with emotional exhaustion. These findings call into question the whole tradition in the community corrections literature of inferring role conflict from officers' role preferences and necessitate that the whole issue of whether officers experience role conflict be revisited by employing direct measures of role conflict.

Keywords: Community Corrections; Occupational Burn-out; Role Conflict

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2003-01-01

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