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Technological Availability and Employees' Well-being: A Pathway to Responsible Digitization

Katharina Ruth Schneider

Publications of Darmstadt Technical University, Institute for Business Studies (BWL) from Darmstadt Technical University, Department of Business Administration, Economics and Law, Institute for Business Studies (BWL)

Abstract: Today, technologies, particularly information and communication technologies (ICTs), such as smartphones and laptops, are ubiquitous in people’s everyday working and private lives leading to fundamental changes. ICTs facilitate an availability for private and work-related contacts without any temporal or spatial constraints. This dissertation addresses on the one hand risks and potential detrimental effects on individual’s well-being that may arise through ICT use and have gained considerable attention in research and practice. On the other hand and foremost, responsible ICT-based solutions with regard to both availability and well-being-related physiological measures are provided that emphasize the opportunities and potential improving effects of ICTs. Thereby, the dissertation takes a pathway to responsible digitization by focusing on the individual user perceived as a human agency. The overarching aim of the dissertation is to provide responsible ICT-based solutions for the assessment of employees’ well-being, in particular regarding availability and physiological measures. To reach this overarching aim, two comprehensive empirical studies are conducted. In particular, the ICT-based Availability Management Study is aimed to shed light on employees’ individual aligned availability by considering their perceptions, motives, and preferences. Therefore, results of a qualitative (n = 59) and quantitative study (n = 589) indicate that the availability preference vary depending on the life domain, the current context, and type and priority of contacts. Hence, requirements and design elements for a responsible ICT-based solution that enables the user to align the actual availability with individual availability preferences are derived. Following principles of the design science research approach, the Availability-Monitor and Availability-Manager as two smartphone applications are developed as the ICT-based solution. The applications are evaluated regarding employees’ stress and work-life balance in a five-week field study with 31 participants using the applications and a control group (n = 55). The evaluation results show that participants using the applications report a significant increase in work-life balance and significant decrease in stress. Hence, ICTs could constitute a feasible solution enabling individuals to align their actual availability and, thereby, supporting their well-being. Study 2 addresses the application of well-being-related physiological measures recorded with ICTs, particularly wearables, for organizational research. Thereby, an in-depth understanding of the opportunities but also pitfalls that arises with the application, in particular regarding methodological properties of the measures and potential measurement issues, are provided. Furthermore, two guidelines for both processing and analyzing wearable-measured physiological measures accounting for the properties and issues and the validation of wearable-measured physiological data are given. The guidelines serve as a rigorous standard of designing studies that record, process, and analyze wearable-measured physiological data. The guidelines are exemplified with real data of an experimental comparison study with 32 participants using the Trier Social Stress Test as the experimental procedure. In this study, physiological stress measures (i.e., heart rate, heart rate variability) recorded with two wearables (i.e., wristband, breast strap) and an established stationary device are compared for validation. The results indicate that the compared wearables offer potential to record cardiovascular data and replace the stationary device. Thus, wearables could serve as an ICT-based solution to assess individuals’ well-being validly and reliably. Together, the dissertation contributes to research and practice by firstly examining responsible ICT-based solutions for the assessment of individuals’ well-being. In particular, both empirical studies indicate the potential ICTs may provide to assess, regulate, and finally improve employees’ well-being. Second, the methodological insights of both studies extend the methodological toolbox of organizational scholars, specifically with regard to developing and evaluating smartphone applications and applying physiological measures for research purposes. In sum, valuable methodological foundations for future research in the emerging area of ecological momentary assessment are provided that enable such studies to create a comprehensive understanding of the individual’s behavior and momentary emotional states, which reflect individuals’ well-being. With illuminating the potential of responsible ICT-based solutions for individuals’ well-being and, therefore, a pathway to responsible digitization, this thesis goes beyond previous research and practice that only shed light either on the detrimental or beneficial site of the double-edged sword ICTs are referred to. Thus, valuable new insights are gained that provide implications for employees as human agencies, employers and organizations, and further research considering ICTs as threefold, the research purpose, the solution, and psychophysiological measurement device in order to improve employees’ well-being.

Date: 2019
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-hap and nep-ict
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