Perceived overqualification and contact center workers’ burnout: are motivations mediators?

Maria José Chambel, Vânia S. Carvalho, Sílvia Lopes, Francisco Cesário

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to test the direct effect of the perceived overqualification on the burnout syndrome and the indirect effect through the workers’ autonomous and controlled motivation. Design/methodology/approach: The hypotheses were tested with a sample of 3,256 contact center operators from one Portuguese company and data were analyzed using the software package Mplus to conduct structural equation models. Findings: The results revealed that workers’ perceived overqualification is positively related to burnout and that both autonomous and controlled motivation partially mediates this relationship. Research limitations/implications: The cross-sectional design should be regarded as a limitation. Moreover, each variable was only assessed with self-reported measures, the sample comprised call center employees from only one company and one country (Portugal), and the workers were all employed in commercial services of telecommunications, energy, banking or insurance companies, which may constrain the generalization of these results. Practical implications: Workers’ perceived overqualification should be avoided to prevent their burnout. Furthermore, an increase in workers’ skills and competencies, enhanced decision latitude, and the task variety and quality should be crucial for employees to develop more autonomous motivation to work in a contact center and the promotion of their well-being at work. More precisely, as overqualification concerns the employees’ perceptions of surplus education, experience and knowledge, from a practical perspective, enhancing the decision latitude, task variety and quality of these individuals’ work may contribute to decreasing individuals’ perception of overqualification and, therefore, contribute to increasing workers’ autonomous motivations and well-being. Originality/value: This study provides evidence concerning the mediating role of both workers’ autonomous and controlled motivation to explain the relationship between perceived overqualification and burnout.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1337-1349
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Organizational Analysis
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2021


  • Motivation
  • Conditions of employment
  • Employees
  • Human resource management
  • Well-being
  • Human resource planning


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