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Abstract

The paper develops and tests theory that explains under what conditions the extent of email use is appraised as a stressor. Integrating concepts from information acquisition and person environment fit theories, we hypothesize that individuals appraise their extent of email use as stressful based on the mismatch between their current and desired extents of email use. We define such match as email fit and mismatch as email misfit. We first develop a conceptual framework that associates email misfit with the individual’s experience of three key workplace stressors – work relationship stressor, job control stressor and job conditions stressor. We then develop hypotheses framing the relationship between email fit and misfit, and these stressors. We test our hypotheses by applying quadratic polynomial regressions and surface-response analysis, to survey data obtained from 118 working individuals. The paper makes three theoretical contributions. Firstly, in reporting a theoretical and empirical construction of email fit and misfit and their relationship to workplace stressors, it shows that, email misfit is appraised as stress-creating. That is, both too much and too little email compared to what the individual desires, are associated with stressors. In doing so and secondly, it shows that IT use (in this case, email) is appraised as stressful both when it exceeds (i.e., associated with overload) and fails to meet (i.e., associated with underload), the user’s expectation and preference. Thirdly, it suggests the person environment approach as a theoretically novel way to conceptualize the cognitive appraisal and judgement associated with information under - and over – acquisition, and shows workplace stressors as potentially new effects associated with them.
Journal of the Association for Information Systems
Vol. 20 No. 2, 2019
pp. 132-160
DOI 10.17705/1jais.00531
APPRAISAL OF EMAIL USE AS A SOURCE OF WORKPLACE
STRESS: A PERSON-ENVIRONMENT FIT APPROACH
Jean-François Stich
ICN Business School, CEREFIGE, Nancy, FR
Monideepa Tarafdar
Lancaster University Management School, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
Patrick Stacey
School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK
Cary L. Cooper
Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
The Author Accepted Manuscript of this paper is freely available at:
http://jfstich.com/publication-stress-from-email-use-a-person-
environment-fit-approach
The published version is available on the JAIS website at:
https://aisel.aisnet.org/jais/vol20/iss2/2/
... Some studies focused on strain purely from a psychological stance (e.g. (Harris et al., 2013); Stich et al., 2019), while others also included physical or physiological aspects of strain (e.g. Day et al., 2012;Galluch et al., 2015). ...
... Aspects of overload and interruptiveness (both actual and perceived) were particularly associated with strain for workplace technology users (e.g. Harris et al., 2013;Galluch et al., 2015;Stich et al., 2019;Soucek & Moser, 2010). Reinke et al. (2016) helpfully distinguished between acute and chronic experiences of strain, emphasizing the difference between a momentary experience of stress and that which is accumulated at the end of the working day, and beyond. ...
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