Contemporary Calendar Management: Exploring the Intersections of Groupware and Personal Calendars **

By McKechnie, Sharon P.; Beatty, Joy E. | Management Revue, July 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Contemporary Calendar Management: Exploring the Intersections of Groupware and Personal Calendars **


McKechnie, Sharon P., Beatty, Joy E., Management Revue


1. Introduction

Boundary theory explores how individuals create and maintain boundaries as a means of simplifying and ordering their environment (Ashforth, Kreiner, & Fugate, 2000). Based on people's individual preferences for integration and segmentation, they may establish 'weak' or 'strong' boundaries between their work and personal domains (Nippert-Eng, 1996b). Research has found that technologies such as mobile phones, email, voicemail, PDAs, and pagers can be a useful tool for boundary management (Boswell & Olson-Buchanan, 2007; Fenner & Renn, 2009). Contemporary 'groupware' calendars such as Microsoft Oudook allow employees constant accessibility, as well as the capability to synchronize calendar data across their calendars and to share calendar data with others.

Flowever, technological affordances such as synchronization and sharing have changed the landscape of calendaring in paradoxical ways. In the case of groupware, users have access to increased integration capabilities, which can give them a greater sense of control; but using such integration can make them more vulnerable to others' time demands because of the shared and public nature of groupware calendars. Managing this increased permeability requires effort and forethought, and may sometimes result in boundary violations when employees are not able to maintain their desired level of boundary management. We suggest that the embedded structures of groupware tools can affect social systems and individual time management processes (Lee, 2003; Païen, 1999; Van den Elooff, 2004, Payne, 1993), shaping people's boundary management capabilities.

Our qualitative study analyzes interview data from 22 US business professionals regarding use of their organization's electronic calendar systems. We investigate how electronic calendars are used as a boundary management tool through two research questions: (1) what processes do people use to manage their boundaries given the wide array of calendars available? and (2) what factors influence how employees use groupware calendars? The justification for these questions will be explained below.

The paper is organized in six sections. Following this first introductory section, section 2 reviews current research on boundary management, technolog)', and electronic calendars to demonstrate the relevance of and linkages between boundary management concepts and individuals' groupware calendar management strategies. Section 3 describes our research objectives, methods, and data collection. Results are discussed in section 4, section 5 offers a discussion of the implications, and section 6 offers directions for future boundary management research and a conclusion.

2. Theoretical background

2.1 Boundary management

Boundary management theory is the foundation of work family research that attempts to explain how and why workers establish temporal and spatial boundaries between their roles. According to this model, people do proactive boundary work to create and maintain their desired psychological, physical, or behavioral boundaries to separate and categorize their various roles and life domains (Ashforth et ah, 2000; Kossek, Noe, & DeMarr, 1999; Nippert-Eng, 1996b). The permeability of boundaries can vary along a continuum from strong boundaries, which create strict divisions between life roles, to weak boundaries, which allow more blending and blurring of the divisions between roles. People tend to have a preference for stronger or weaker boundaries, and adopt corresponding strategies which vary on the continuum of segmentation to integration (Kossek et al., 1999; Rothbard, Phillips, & Dumas, 2005).

Empirical research has demonstrated a number of strategies employees can use to establish and maintain boundaries between their work and family roles (Kreiner, Hollensbe, & Sheep, 2009; Moen, Lam, Ammons, & Kelly, 2013; Fonner & Stäche, 2012). For example, professionals may develop strategies of consciously prioritizing nonwork demands for family, health, and leisure above job demands, or use "triage" (Kreiner, Elollensbe, & Sheep, 2009) to determine which tasks really need to be done. …

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