Date of Award

8-2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Management

Advisor

Grover, Varun

Committee Member

Thatcher , Jason

Committee Member

Moore , DeWayne

Abstract

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2002) reports that, on average, individuals worked seven hours per week from home in addition to regular work hours. This is made possible by advances in information and communication technologies (ICTs). While the increasing workload is not unusual, it has been related to stress, including the relatively new phenomenon of stress induced by technologies (technostress). Academic literature, popular press and anecdotal evidence suggest that ICTs are responsible for increased stress levels in individuals. However, it is not very clear as to how or why ICTs create stress.
Prior research on technostress has been largely descriptive. As ICTs become ubiquitous, their stressful impact can be felt at all levels of an organization. Stress related health costs are increasing dramatically and there is evidence of decreased productivity in stressed individuals (Chilton et al., 2005; Cooper et al., 2001; Jex, 1998). So, organizations have incentives to better understand stressful situations at workplace. Based on the literature from management information systems, psychology, organizational behavior, and occupational stress, a model of technostress is developed to address the question of 'how and why information and communication technologies enable stress in individuals'.
Person-Environment fit model (Edwards, 1996) is used as a theoretical lens to explain technostress. The research model proposes that certain technology characteristics exacerbate stressors identified in occupational stress literature leading to the manifestation of stress, referred to as strain. Specifically, technology characteristics - usability (usefulness, complexity, and reliability), intrusive (presenteeism, anonymity), and dynamic (pace of change) are proposed to be related to stressors (work overload, role ambiguity, invasion of privacy, work-home conflict, and job insecurity).
Survey design methodology is used to test the proposed research model. Field data for 692 working professionals was obtained from a market research firm (Zoomerang®). In general, the results from structural equation modeling supported the hypotheses from the model. The results suggest that technostress is prevalent (and a significant predictor of overall job strain). Specifically, work overload and role ambiguity are found to be the two most dominant stressors, whereas intrusive technology characteristics are found to be the dominant predictors of stressors.
The results from this study have implications for both research and practice. It opens up new avenues for research by showing that ICTs are a source of stress - thereby addressing calls to understand the stressful impacts of ICTs (Nelson, 1990; Weber, 2004). To our knowledge, it is the first empirical study to address the phenomenon of technostress that is theoretically grounded in stress research. The implications of present research to other research streams such as resistance to technologies, value of technology investments are also highlighted. Based on research findings, this research proposes certain recommendations that can influence managerial action. Foremost among these, it brings attention to presence of technostress in organizations and also provides a framework which can be used to assess the extent to which technostress is prevalent.

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