High Tech Tethers and Work-family Conflict: A Conservation of Resources Approach

Katherine M. Richardson, Cynthia A. Thompson


This is one of the first studies to empirically examine the relationship between wireless communications technology and work interference with family, and results shed light on the motivating factors that influence individuals to continuously engage with mobile technologies, sometimes to their personal detriment. We draw from Conservation of Resources (COR) theory to examine the relationship between using mobile communications technologies during non-work time (e.g., evenings, weekends, vacation) and psychological variables related to work-family conflict and well being, and whether this relationship is mediated by perceptions of job control and detachment from work.  We collected data from 139 full-time working adults from a large media organization and analyzed it by conducting two multiple mediation regression models using bootstrapping procedures (Preacher & Hayes, 2008). Results revealed that higher levels of mobile technology use during evenings, weekends and vacations were directly related to higher levels of work-family conflict, operationalized as work interference with family. Technology use was also related to both resource enhancing and resource depleting variables. Specifically, technology use was positively related to job control and negatively related to detachment from work. Job control and detachment from work, in turn, were negatively related to work interference with family. Findings suggested that the mediating effect of detachment on the relationship between technology use and work interference with family was greater than the mediating effect of job control, thus providing evidence to support the COR theory principle that resource loss is more salient than resource gain.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/emr.v1n1p29


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