Using e-mail is a time-consuming activity that can increase workload stress. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the relationship between the individual’s e-mail load, workload stress and desired e-mail load, drawing from the cybernetic theory of stress.
Based on prior theory, the authors first hypothesized relationships among e-mail load, workplace stress and desired e-mail load. The authors then tested these relationships on a sample of 504 full-time workers in the USA, using survey data and covariance-based structural equation modeling techniques.
The authors find that higher e-mail load is associated with higher workload stress; higher workload stress is associated with lower desired e-mail load; lower desired e-mail load is associated with lower e-mail load; and higher workload stress is associated with higher psychological strain, higher negative emotions and lower organizational commitment.
The study provides a novel understanding of workload stress due to e-mail load, through the lens of cybernetic theory. It contributes to the e-mail overload and technostress literatures by conceptualizing desired e-mail load as a potential outcome of workplace stress and as a regulator for e-mail load. For practitioners, the study highlights the importance of managing employees’ e-mail load to prevent the negative effects of workplace stress and associated strains.
Role of the funding source: Qualtrics LLC provided research support of $3,000 for this research that was used for participant recruitment. The company was not involved at any stage of this research.
Stich, J.-F., Tarafdar, M., Stacey, P. and Cooper, C.L. (2019), "E-mail load, workload stress and desired e-mail load: a cybernetic approach", Information Technology & People, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 430-452. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-10-2017-0321
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