Email overload: Fine-tuning the research lens

Julie Rennecker, Daantje Derks

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic

1 Citation (Scopus)


This chapter introduces a typology of “email overload” that distinguishes between information overload, work overload, and social overload that better captures the diversity of experiences reported in the literature. Information overload occurs when the amount of information to be consumed and assimilated, particularly with respect to a particular task or decision, exceeds the individual’s information processing capacity. Work overload occurs when the volume of messages received and the time required to respond appropriately exceeds the hours available in the workday. Social overload occurs when a worker receives email messages from too many different people evoking too many distinct roles and social contexts, exceeding the recipient’s interaction capacity. The chapter discusses the implications of the typology for doing studies that will produce finer-grained analyses, leading to more fruitful recommendations for knowledge workers and their managers. It considers the implications of contemporary trends in technology use for user experiences of overload.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCurrent Issues in Work and Organizational Psychology
PublisherTaylor and Francis AS
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780429887321
ISBN (Print)9781138604940
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 selection and editorial matter, Cary Cooper.


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