Excessive availability for work: Good or bad? Charting underlying motivations and searching for game-changers

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“Excessive availability for work” (hereafter EAW), or overwork is multi-faceted in nature, and encompasses behavioral manifestations such as long working hours (including overtime work), sickness presenteeism (SP), leavism, and teleworking (working on mobile devices outside the workplace and during off-time) as a few prevalent observations. To facilitate systematic research in the field, a broad framework needs to be formulated to explain, predict, and understand the phenomena. We thus introduce a motivational theoretical perspective on EAW to explain the underlying psychological process of such an act as a practice of human agency at work. This exercise of human agency sets motion the dynamic process actualizing both potential costs as well as benefits of EAW, over an extended period of time. We based our theoretical formulation on the proposition of the general model of values and work (Roe & Ester, 1999) and the basic tenet of the self-determination theory (SDT, Deci & Ryan, 1985). In particular, we adopted the autonomous-controlled orientation as an individual difference construct, linking it with intrinsic/extrinsic work values. These divergent work values then express themselves in the act of voluntary/involuntary EAW, motivated by the individual's strive to satisfy basic human needs of autonomy, competency, and relatedness. It is these distinct motivations that finally determine the good or bad outcomes, possibly varying in different frame of time. We further acknowledged that many environmental and personal factors could act as moderators in the self-motivational/regulatory process and alter the good or bad outcomes of EAW. We used psychological detachment as a moderator to serve as an illustration, and encouraged future concerted research applying our theoretical model.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Resource Management Review
Early online date1 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Excessive availability for work
  • Motivational regulatory process
  • Good and bad EAW


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