Proximal and distal antecedents of problematic information technology use in organizations

Henri Pirkkalainen, Monideepa Tarafdar, Markus Salo, Markus Makkonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Purpose: Excessive use of work-related information technology (IT) devices can lead to major performance and well-being concerns for organizations. Extant research has provided evidence of the incidence of such problematic IT use in organizations. We extend the understanding of problematic IT use by examining its individual (proximal) and organizational (distal) antecedents. Design/methodology/approach: Drawing from the self-worth theory and the concept of fear of being left behind, we address proximal antecedents that lead to problematic IT use. Drawing from the concept of autonomy paradox, we address distal antecedents of problematic IT use through a positive association with the two proximal antecedents. We report the results of a field study involving 846 individuals who use IT for work. Structural equation modeling was employed to analyze the data. Findings: The results indicate that the proximal antecedents (IT insecurity and fear of missing out) are positively associated with problematic IT use. The distal antecedents (IT use autonomy and involvement facilitation) are positively associated with the proximal antecedents except for the relationship between IT use autonomy and IT insecurity, which was found statistically non-significant. Furthermore, fear of missing out fully mediates the effect of IT use autonomy on problematic IT use, whereas IT insecurity and fear of missing out fully mediate the effects of involvement facilitation on problematic IT use. Originality/value: The paper theoretically extends the understanding of problematic IT use and identifies novel its proximal and distal antecedents.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Sep 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Distal antecedents
  • Fear of missing out
  • IT insecurity
  • Problematic IT use
  • Proximal antecedents

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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