Sub-theme 54: Information and Communication Technologies and the Work-Life Boundary

Donald Hislop
School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, UK
Petra M. Bosch-Sijtsema
Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden
Angelika Zimmermann
School of Business and Economics, Loughborough University, UK

Call for Papers


Contemporary information and communication technologies (ICTs) arguably have significant implications for the design of work organizations (facilitating global, remote/virtual collaboration, home-based or mobile working). However, these developments also have potentially significant implications for the nature of the work-life boundary.

This sub-theme links together the topics of how ICTs are impacting on the design and structuring of work, and the work-life boundary by examining how people use ICTs to manage the latter. While there has been some research on how the work-related use of mobile technologies has impacted on people’s work-life boundary, this literature has generally focussed only on professional or managerial workers (for example, Orlikowski, 2007) and has mostly considered the way in which these technologies allow the intrusion of work into non-work time (for example, Fenner & Renn, 2010).

This sub-theme takes a wider approach to the technology/work-life boundary relationship through welcoming contributions which:

  • Examine the experiences of any type of worker including: manual workers, managerial/professional workers, home-based workers, mobile workers, people involved in virtual/distributed work;
  • Examine the use of any type of computer and communication technology and mode of communication in relation to the work-life boundary including: desktop and mobile computers, mobile phones or mobile email devices which can be used for synchronous or asynchronous communication;
  • Examine people's ICT mediated boundary management practices not only during non-work time, but also work-time.
  • Look at both how ICTs can influence not only the way in which work can intrude on people's non-work domain but also the ways in which peoples' non-work domain can intrude on their work.
  • Conceptualize the domain of 'life' as constituting more than simply family/domestic relations, by taking account of how workers' non-work domain may include participating in particular hobbies, or may involve relationships with extended family, friends, and work colleagues who are also friends.
  • Develop and advance theory of either the nature of the work-life boundary and/or the nature of the technologies being examined. 'Boundary theory' (Ashforth et al., 2000) arguably provides the dominant perspective on how the work life boundary is conceptualized, and the social studies of technology perspectives (see Wajcman, 2006) has played a key role in highlighting how user agency is key in shaping the relationship between technology use and the work-life boundary (such as Wajcman et al., 2008). Contributions are welcomed which either support or challenge/critique these perspectives, or which utilize different theoretical perspectives (such as Orlikowski, 2007).
  • Problematize and question the degree of agency that ICTs provide people to control their work-life boundary, through taking account of factors beyond people's control (such as having to deal with urgent, unexpected events).


We welcome contributions which connect with any of the themes outlined. The convenors are also happy to engage in discussion with anyone interested in submitting a paper to this sub-theme.




Ashforth, B., G. Kreiner & M. Fugate (2000): "All in a Day's Work: Boundaries and Micro-Role Transitions." Academy of Management Review, 25, 472–491
Fenner, G. & R. Renn (2010): "Technology-Assisted Supplemental Work and Work-to-Family Conflict: The Role of Instrumental Beliefs, Organizational Expectations and time Management." Human Relations, 63, 63–82
Orlikowski, W. (2007): "Socio-Material Practices: Exploring Technology at Work." Organization Studies, 28, 1435–1448
Wajcman, J. (2006): "New Connections: Social Studies of Science and Technology and Studies of Work." Work, Employment and Society, 20, 773–786
Wajcman, J., M. Bittman & J. Brown (2008): "Families without Borders: Mobile Phones, Connectedness and Work-Home Divisions." Sociology, 42, 635–652


Donald Hislop Donald Hislop is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough University. He has experience as a subtheme convenor (at EGOS 2008, and CMS 2009). His research interests are in two broad areas: mobile technology use in work and knowledge management. He has published articles in a wide range of academic journals on both topics and is also the author of a textbook on knowledge management (Knowledge Management: A Critical Introduction, published by Oxford University Press) and an edited book on spatial mobility and mobile technology use in work (Mobility and Technology in the Workplace, published by Routledge).
Petra M. Bosch-Sijtsema Petra Bosch-Sijtsema is an associate professor at Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden. Her research interests are in global distributed work, the physical, virtual and social workplace as well as knowledge creation and innovation.
Angelika Zimmermann Angelika Zimmermann holds an MSc in Occupational Psychology and a PhD from the University of Sheffield, UK. From 2003 to 2007, she worked as an intercultural training consultant for the Robert Bosch Group, Germany. Since 2007, she has been a lecturer in International Business and Strategy at Loughborough University School of Business and Economics. Her research focuses on issues of transnational team work, offshoring relationships, and international human resource management in the context of China and India.