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Abstract

This study examines how technology-mediated cross-domain interruptions affect people’s work and personal life on two aspects: level of conflict between work and personal life and people’s ability to fulfill their responsibilities in each of the two domains. Based on the direction of an interruption, we differentiate between two types of cross-domain interruptions: work-to-nonwork (WTN) and nonwork-to-work (NTW). Drawing on interruption research and work-life interaction literature, we conceptualize distinct effects of the two interruption types on outcome variables. Data were collected through surveys from 137 knowledge workers. Results reveal asymmetric effects of WTN and NTW interruptions on work and personal life. The frequency of WTN interruptions is found to be positively associated with work-life conflict and negatively associated with fulfillment of personal life responsibilities, whereas the frequency of NTW interruptions significantly affects fulfillment of work responsibilities but not work-life conflict. Thus, results point to asymmetrically permeable boundaries between work and personal life. Results also suggest that the effects of WTN interruptions on fulfillment of personal life responsibilities are partially mediated by WTN conflict. The study concludes with implications for research and practice.

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