The study looked at the nature of the relationship between technostress (defined as the mental stress associated with using information and communication technology (ICT) on the job) and negative outcomes (e.g., dissatisfaction, burnout, intent to turnover).
Matthew Valle, professor of management, presented the results of his recent research at a conference in San Antonio, Texas on Saturday, March 11.
The paper, “Too much of a bad thing? The curvilinear relationship between technostress and interpersonal deviance,” was presented at the 2023 Conference of the Academic and Business Research Institute. The research was conducted in 2022 with Ken Harris (Indiana University), Suzanne Zivnuska (California State University – Chico), Ranida Harris (Indiana University) and John and Dawn Carlson (Baylor University).
The study looked at the nature of the relationship between technostress (defined as the mental stress associated with using information and communication technology (ICT) on the job) and negative outcomes (e.g., dissatisfaction, burnout, intent to turnover). As with other job stressors, the more employees experience stress in the workplace, the more likely they are to suffer negative effects. More specifically, this investigation analyzed the relationship between technostress and interpersonal deviance (deviance directed at another member of the organization).
The study team hypothesized that the relationship between technostress and interpersonal deviance was not linear, as is assumed by previous studies. If the assumption of linearity does not hold, the nature of current managerial interventions can be called into question.
The results demonstrated that the best fitting model of the relationship was indeed curvilinear, suggesting that technostress in small/modest amounts does not result in appreciable amounts of interpersonal deviance. In fact, low levels of technostress might even be useful for engaging and assisting employees (what some call “techno-eustress”). However, at high levels of technostress, instances of interpersonal deviance escalate exponentially, suggesting that employees reach a “break point” and are no longer able to cope effectively with technostress. Subsequently, they lash out at their fellow co-workers in inappropriate ways.
The primary implication of this analysis suggests that managers shouldn’t be too quick to lessen or remove all technostress from the workplace. Some technostress may be helpful if it causes individuals to respond by learning new technologies, improving workflows, and enhancing organizational performance. A little stress can be a good thing. At higher levels of technostress, however, managers should be attuned to indications that individuals have exceeded their abilities to cope. Behavioral changes are most easily witnessed, and managers can address interpersonal deviance when it first appears.