Evolving border theory and self-regulation theory for a mobile phone generation

The global adoption of mobile phones has fundamentally changed life as we know it. This study hopes to understand if mobile- and/or smartphones have changed the way in which work and home domains are constructed and what the consequences are on the individual’s workfamily balance. More importantly, are individuals able to self-regulate the flow of communication from the work into the home domain via a mobile- and/or smartphone in order to maintain the intricate work-family balance. To determine the plausibility/feasibility of this hypothesis, the study builds on Clark's (2000) Border theory with respect to work-life balance and border violations, bearing recent technological advances in mind, through the incorporation of Bandura’s (1986) self-regulation mechanism to explain the border management mechanism. To determine the validity of this hypothesis, a mixed-methods study was conducted which utilised a managerial participant sample recruited from South Africa in three phases; a pilot study (N = 30); a primary sample of a further 227 managers; and in-depth follow-up interviews with 27 managers and their partners. To determine the relationship between self-regulation and mobile phone usage for after-hours work in the home domain, Pearson’s correlation coefficients were used. The relationship between self-regulation and work-family balance was further explored through moderated multiple linear regressions, using a model from Baron and Kenny (1986), which created further explorative points which were investigated in the 27 interviews. The interviews were conducted to determine if individuals understand their afterhours mobile phone usage for work purposes and this was analysed via thematic content analysis (TCA). There was evidence for relationships between self-regulation and the time spent on organisational work within the work day and at home (after hours), which results in an impact on the development of work-family conflict. The relationship between the mobile phone use for work can be attributed to self-regulation, which implies that self-regulation is an intermediary mechanism. Moderated multilinear regression, unexpectedly, showed that individuals with low (deficient) self-regulatory ability, facilitated work ubiquitously with their mobile phones while simultaneously increasing their own self-esteem, as it supported their own work-family balance. The interviews uncovered three different border-keeper groups (borderexpanders, border-adapters, and border-enforcers). The outcomes of this research indicates that mobile- and/or smartphones have the ability to alter the border construction between the work and home domains as well as the intricate balance between them. Keywords: Work-family balance, Border theory, Mobile phones, Smartphones, Self-regulation, Self-esteem, South African managers
A thesis submitted to the Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Johannesburg, South Africa, 2018
White, Edward Peter Greenwood (2018) Evolving border theory and self-regulation theory for a mobile phone generation, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, https://hdl.handle.net/10539/26274