The causes of stress in small businesses : an exploratory study
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Science
The major purpose of this study was to explore the causes of stress in small business. The sample comprised 91 Christchurch small business owner/operators with a variety of types and sizes of business. The research instruments were a questionnaire to obtain demographic data, and a Repertory Grid which consisted of both the stressful situations and the reasons why they caused stress. The Repertory Grid data were computer analysed to produce consensus grids for 14 subgroups, and these were submitted to a principal components analysis, which showed the relationships between the stressful situations and the reasons for stress. Mean scores for each ‘situation’ and each ‘reason’ were also obtained for the subgroups. For all groups a strikingly similar pattern of financial stress emerged that was precipitated by the general downturn in business. Collecting debts, both from customers and other businesses, was a major problem, and this in turn, lead to difficulty in paying accounts. Businesspeople were also working long hours because of reduced staffing levels and the increasing pressure of administration work, mainly caused by the bureaucratic demands of the deregulated economy. The results showed a tendency for males to be more concerned about financial security, and females were more stressed by long working hours. However, most respondents were worried about a decrease in consumer demand, and the combined effects of long working hours and anxiety about the future appeared to have consequences for both the businessperson’s health and home life.