Professor Ronald G. Downey K-State

Ronald G. Downey
Professor of Psychology

Bluemont Hall, Rm 472   532-5475

Educational Background
  • University of Texas, Austin, B.A., 1966, Psychology
  • Temple University, M.A., 1968, Psychology
  • Temple University, Ph.D., 1971, Quantitative Psychology

Syllabi and Course Materials -click on course title for more information

Research Interests
  • Over the last 10 years several themes have emerged in my research. Much of this work has been supported by my students and colleagues. The major efforts have included: 1) part-time employment; 2) service orientation of employees; 3) work-family conflict; 4) job stress and burnout; and 5) customer contact. When possible, these efforts have over lapped. Brief descriptions of these major areas follow.

    Part-time Employment
    As part of a contract with a quick service restaurant chain, one of my graduate students conducted a study of part-time workers. This was based on a nation-wide survey of crew members. This line of research identified the general characteristics of part-time workers and how they differed from full-time employees. One of the more important findings was that part-time workers with a greater sense of job control (e.g., scheduling of work) were more satisfied with their work and had a lower intention to leave. Several of my students theses and dissertations involved part-time work and control. My interests in service orientation and work-family conflict grew out of this study and were expanded in later studies.

    Service Orientation of Employees
    The crew survey also contained a brief set of questions related to service orientation of employees. I have continued working on the development of this scale. This work has demonstrated the importance of employees' perceptions of the service environment in understanding the quality of service provided by an organization. Much of the earlier work in this area was done in conjunction with students from the Institutional Management program here at K-State. More recently, this work has now been linked with the Job Burnout and Customer Contact Work being done by my students.

    Work-Family Conflict
    My efforts in this area were primarily carried out by two of my students in their dissertations. One linked work-family conflict to job satisfaction and included a large part-time sample. The second dissertation developed a new approach to work-family conflict and included the concept of family-work conflict (i.e., the degree to which work causes conflict with the family). This is clearly a critical issue in today's workforce.

    Job Stress and Burnout
    This is a more recent effort by my students. The interest has been on understanding the antecedents and consequences of job burnout. We have explicitly linked this work to a service environment and customer contact issues. Our work suggests that both traits of the workers and the state of the organization need to be considered in understanding the service environment.

    Customer Contact
    This has been our more recent effort and grew out of our job burnout research. Customer contact has been named by many researchers as the source of job burnout, but little work has been done to empirically demonstrate this or to understand the nature of the customer contact. Our preliminary work has been to develop a better understanding of the contact and develop ways to measure it. Our preliminary research has found that customer contact is a multi-faceted construct (e.g., frequency, emotional content, etc.). The various facets are directly related to different aspects of job burnout.