Date of Degree


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Karen S. Lyness

Committee Members

Harold W. Goldstein

Caryn E. Medved

Kristen M. Shockley

Pamela Stone

Subject Categories



The present research explored unplanned work performed during employees' nonwork hours in response to unexpected work intrusions. Three studies were conducted to achieve four goals: 1) better understand the nature of switching from nonwork roles to the work role in response to work intrusions during nonwork hours, 2) help distinguish unplanned role switching from planned role transitions (e.g., bringing work home), 3) develop and validate new episodic measures of work intrusions and three aspects of unplanned nonwork-to-work role switching (frequency, mental difficulty, and physical effort), and 4) begin developing a nomological net of antecedent and outcomes variables surrounding the construct. In Study 1 I conducted employee interviews using the critical incident technique to clarify the nature of unplanned role switching and how it differs from planned role transitions. Analysis of rich qualitative data revealed important characteristics of unplanned role switching that help differentiate it from planned role transitions. The qualitative data also helped in developing episodic measures of work intrusions and unplanned role switching. In Study 2, the new measures were refined based on feedback from subject matters experts and interviewees from Study 1. Study 3 was a repeated measures design in which the refined measures from Study 2 were administered during a 10-day daily study period to assess employees' responses to discrete work intrusions during a typical workweek. Antecedents (individual differences and job characteristics) and outcomes (work interference with nonwork, burnout, and poor physical health symptoms) were examined using HLM. Results indicated that the antecedents differed for the three aspects of unplanned role switching. However, exploratory results demonstrated the importance of work intrusion characteristics in predicting all three aspects of unplanned role switching. Additionally, Study 3 results underscored the importance of examining intrusions and unplanned role switching, as both were related to negative employee outcomes, such as poor physical healthy symptoms. Also, the outcomes differed for the three aspects of unplanned role switching, indicating that it is a complex construct with distinct psychological and physical processes. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed, as well as ideas for future research.

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