The Influence of Cultural Distance on Job Stress of Flight Attendants: Examining the Moderating Effect of Cultural Competency


by Pornprom Suthatorn, SathawornLerdsuwonakun and PhenphimolSeriwattana

Flight attendants or cabin crews enhance air travel safety and alleviate passenger concerns. They have to deal with various types of the situation during their long-hour working onboard including stressful and demanding. Flight attendants have to travel frequently and deal with passengers from both similar and different cultures with their job requirements.

The working conditions are separated into two categories called job resources and job demands.

Job demands are the job requirements that individuals are forced to use their skills to cope with those conditions.

Job resources are the working conditions that help persons accomplish work goals, reduce stress, and maintain personal well-being.

The mechanism of this model can be explained that a person who possesses job resources higher than job demands will not feel stress in their job. In contrast, people who lack job resources compared to their job demands will suffer from stress.

The job demands tend to be higher when persons are encountered in diverse cultural situations, such as dealing with persons from different cultures, because the expectations, values, norms, and other aspects will differ from their own to other cultures.

Job stress is a negative psychological state which can be defined as an individual’s reaction to the emotionally and physically threatening work environment. The less motivated, poorly productive, health risks, and less safe at work can occur if a high level of job stress is experienced. This will create job stress and possibly lead to burnout. The stress will be more intense when flight attendants have to deal with passengers from various cultures due to their norms, value expectations, and other aspects that are different from their own.

Cultural distance

Cultural distance is defined as “differences between the indices of each country.” Cultural distance performs as a barrier to interaction among people from a different culture. The wider the cultural distance from home country to a foreign country, the less familiar the new environment is.

Cultural competency (CC)

Cultural competencies are the crucial skills that will help individuals perform well in cross-cultural.

A broader cultural knowledge of cabin crew members will make them deal with passengers from different cultures effectively. Cultural intelligence facilitates cabin crew members to develop better intercultural communication, which helps them capably serve foreign passengers. Then, cabin crew members can lessen their job stress.

The study reveals that the higher level of cultural distance between flight attendants and passengers, the higher job stress they are perceived.

Airlines should issue the policy to encourage flight attendants to attend the cultural competency training sessions or create a curriculum for flight attendants to learn about the cultural competency before their first flight.

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