Academic journal article Communication Studies

The Experience of Time at Work: Relationship to Communication Load, Job Satisfaction, and Interdepartmental Communication

Academic journal article Communication Studies

The Experience of Time at Work: Relationship to Communication Load, Job Satisfaction, and Interdepartmental Communication

Article excerpt

There is a growing literature demonstrating connections between communication and human temporality across a variety of contexts (Albarran & Arrese, 2003; Ballard & Seibold, 2000, 2003, 2004a, 2004b; Bennett, 2000; Bruneau, 1996; Holmer-Nadesan, 1997; Hylmo & Buzzanell, 2003; Kirby & Krone, 2002; Kuhn, 2000; McCann & Giles, 2002; McKerrow, 1999; Nadesan, 1997; Peterson, 1996; Wolburg, 1999, 2001; Wolburg & Taylor, 1998). These studies reveal that "time"--whether construed objectively, subjectively, or intersubjectively (Ballard & Seibold, 2004b)--is crucially implicated in communication-related processes and effects. Communication mediates and moderates the relationship between time and many practices and structures of interest to communication scholars (e.g., as in the works above: media market decisions, intimate relationships, intercultural interactions, telecommuting, organizational policies, ageism, politics, gender, life span transitions, and television advertising), and it is an outcome of those interactions (McGrath & Kelly, 1986). Indeed, time is fundamentally a communicative construction (Bourdieu, 1977).

In addition to a burgeoning literature in our discipline, the study of organizational temporality has seen explosive growth across a number of fields since the turn of the century. Despite the promise of this growing area of research, like many literatures in their infancy, work time scholarship suffers from a lack of continuity. This is needed in order to help advance further development and synergy in this important area of scholarship. Previously, we have endeavored to join current conversations grappling with these issues (Ancona, Okhuysen, & Perlow, 2001; Ballard & Seibold, 2003; Bluedorn, 2002; Lee & Liebenau, 1999) and to explicitly articulate a communication perspective on such matters, including a common language for the communicative study of time. This study both sharpens and expands that perspective. It examines members' reported communication load, job satisfaction, and interdepartmental communication satisfaction in relation to their temporal experience along eleven dimensions--flexibility, linearity, pace, punctuality, delay, scheduling, separation, scarcity, urgency, and present and future time focus. In previous research, we have focused on the communicative origins of members' temporal experience (Ballard & Seibold, 2000, 2003, 2004b) and the dimensions of organizational temporality (Ballard & Seibold, 2004a). This study extends that project by considering communicative outcomes associated with various dimensions of temporality. Below, the theoretical framework within which this investigation is anchored is described and situated vis-a-vis broader discussions concerning organizational temporality. Following this discussion, other research supporting the three outcome measures chosen for examination is reviewed, the methods used in the present study are explained, the findings are reported, and their implications are discussed.

A Meso Level Model of Organizational Temporality

Ancona, Okhuysen, and Perlow (2001) offer an integrative framework designed to provide a common set of terms and points of reference for the developing area of work time scholarship. They describe three interrelated categories of temporal constructs--conceptions of time, mapping activities to time, and actors relating to time--that allow researchers to simultaneously clarify the focus of a given analysis as well as to consider multiple aspects and interrelationships concerning said construct(s). They recommend that when researchers use a term, the category (from among these three) be specified in order to set the context of the conversation. Additionally, because "our understanding of a variable in one category affects and is affected by variables in the other two categories," investigations should be described in terms of each of the three categories, highlighting the interrelationships (p. …

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