Seeing the Forest for the Trees: Exploratory Learning, Mobile Technology, and Knowledge Workers’ Role Integration Behaviors

Abstract: Role integration is the new workplace reality for many employees. The prevalence of mobile technologies (e.g., laptops, smartphones, tablets) that are increasingly wearable and nearly always “on” makes it difficult to keep role boundaries separate and distinct. We draw upon boundary theory and construal level theory to hypothesize that role integration behaviors shift people from thinking concretely to thinking more abstractly about their work. The results of an archival study of Enron executives’ emails, two experiments, and a multi-wave field study of knowledge workers provide evidence of positive associations between role integration behaviors, higher construal level, and more exploratory learning activities.

Reference Information

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Method(s) Used in Paper

Linguistic Category Model

by Gun Semin and Klaus Fiedler.
Published in "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology" in 1988.

Role Integration Behaviors Measure

by Jean-Nicolas Reyt and Batia Wiesenfeld.
Published in "Academy of Management Journal" in 2015.

Role Integration/Segmentation Priming Task

by Batia Wiesenfeld and Jean-Nicolas Reyt.
Published in "Academy of Management Journal" in 2015.

Work-Based Construal Level Measure

by Jean-Nicolas Reyt and Batia Wiesenfeld.
Published in "Academy of Management Journal" in 2015.

APA-Format Citation

Reyt, J. N., & Wiesenfeld, B. M. (2015). Seeing the forest for the trees: Exploratory learning, mobile technology, and knowledge workers’ role integration behaviors. Academy of Management Journal, 58(3), 739-762.