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E-mail load, workload stress and desired e-mail load: a cybernetic approach

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journal contribution
posted on 2018-06-05, 07:57 authored by Jean-Francois Stich, Monideepa Tarafdar, Patrick StaceyPatrick Stacey, Cary L. Cooper
Purpose 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. Design/methodology/approach 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. Findings 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. Originality/value 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.



  • Business and Economics


  • Business

Published in

Information Technology and People


STICH, J-F. ... et al, 2018. E-mail load, workload stress and desired e-mail load: a cybernetic approach. Information Technology and People, 32 (2), pp.430-452.


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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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This paper was published in the journal Information Technology and People and the definitive published version is available at https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-10-2017-0321.




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