Understanding technology-mediated cross-domain interruptions
Chen, Junwen Adela
MetadataShow full item record
This study examines how technology-mediated interruptions that cross the work and personal life domains affect people’s work and nonwork outcomes (i.e., conflict between work and nonwork, work performance, and nonwork performance). Along the dimensions of direction and source, we differentiate between four types of cross-domain technology-mediated interruptions: work-to-nonwork (WTN) other-initiated, WTN self-initiated, nonwork-to-work (NTW) other-initiated, and NTW self-initiated interruptions. Drawing on interruption research and micro-role transition theories, we conceptualize distinct effects of the four interruption types on outcome variables. Data were collected through surveys from 137 knowledge workers. The results reveal asymmetrical effects of technology-mediated interruptions on work and nonwork domains. Despite the commonly held negative connotation of interruptions, the results support a marginally significant inverted U-shaped relationship between NTW self-initiated interruptions and work performance. The results also suggest that WTN other-initiated interruptions affect WTN conflict to a greater extent than self-initiated interruptions. In general, WTN other-initiated interruptions are found to be more detrimental than self-initiated ones. These findings contribute to interruption research by differentiating between four types of interruptions and assessing their distinct outcomes not at the task level as in prior research but at the domain level. They also enhance our understanding of technology-mediated micro-role transitions by viewing interruptions as moment-to-moment transitions between work and personal life as opposed to institutionalized transitions such as telecommuting or flextime. The study concludes with implications for research and practice.