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Computers in Human Behavior 105 (2020) 106194

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Computers in Human Behavior

journal homepage: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/comphumbeh

Effect of work-related smartphone use after work on job burnout:

Moderating effect of social support and organizational politics
Jae-Chun Park a, Sunggeun Kim a, Hwansoo Lee b, *
Department of Business Administration, Dankook University, 152 Jukjeon-ro, Suji-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, 16890, Republic of Korea
Department of Convergence Security, Dankook University, 152 Jukjeon-ro, Suji-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, 16890, Republic of Korea


Keywords: This study examines not only the relationship between work-related smartphone use after work and job burnout
Smartphone use after work but also the 3-way interaction effect of social support and perceived organizational politics (POPs) on this
Organizational politics relationship. The findings of an analysis of 387 Korean workers provide various significant implications. The 3-
Supervisor support
way interaction effect of POPs was identified, while the interaction effect of social support between work-related
Peer support
Job burnout
smartphone use after work and job burnout was not confirmed. Specifically, the negative impact of work-related
smartphone use after work, which induces job burnout, was found to be mitigated when supervisor support was
high in a negative political work environment. However, in a positive political work environment, greater su­
pervisor support was actually found to increase the negative impact of work-related smartphone use after work,
while strong peer support reduced the negative impact of work-related smartphone use after work. This study
contributes to research by providing an extended research model of how work-related smartphone use after work
affects job burnout and how social support and political work environment moderate this relationship. Addi­
tional longitudinal studies including other factors of job demands and resources will facilitate more academic
and practical discussions.

1. Introduction paradox” of work-related smartphone use (Piszczek, 2017), and few

have empirically examined its effect outside of working hours. In the
The invention of the smartphone—a major teleworking tool—has current climate in which smartphone usage in work environments is
enabled workers to work anytime and anywhere, regardless of whether increasing, discussions on the effects of work-related smartphone use
they desire to do so (K. Y. Lee, Lee, & Kim, 2017; Yuan & Zheng, 2005). and the factors that strengthen or mitigate them are very important (Xie
Smartphones increase organizational performance by increasing work et al., 2018). Previous studies have shown that work-related smartphone
accessibility, which paradoxically also blurs the distinction between use after work hours has a negative effect on work stress, job burnout,
work and life, functioning as a job demand factor that negatively affects and WLB by increasing workload (Derks, van Mierlo, & Schmitz, 2014).
employees’ well-being and work-life balance (WLB) and increases stress However, the results of these studies do not imply that work-related
and job burnout (Adisa, Gbadamosi, & Osabutey, 2017; Jung, 2014; smartphone use is always problematic and that smartphones should
Middleton & Cukier, 2006; Xie, Ma, Zhou, & Tang, 2018). In this sense, not be used after work. Since some studies have indicated the positive
completing work by using smartphones after regular work hours can effects of work-related smartphone use, it is important to discuss how
lead to work overload. This is particularly an issue in Korea, which re­ smartphones should be used outside of working hours and in which
cords the second-longest average work time per year after Mexico situations such use would be most effective.
(OECD, 2018). In total, 70.3% of Korean employees work using smart According to the job demand-resource (JD-R) (Karasek, 1985) and
devices during non-business hours. This high penetration rate affects the conservation of resources (Hobfoll, 1989) theories, the effects of
work of the employees and is becoming a serious social issue (K. H. Lee & work-related smartphone use after work can be influenced by circum­
Kim, 2015), making it harder for them to physically and emotionally stantial factors of social support (job resource approach) and percep­
recover and potentially leading to job burnout. tions of organizational politics (job demand approach). With regard to
Previous studies have been limited in explaining the “flexibility the former, mutual cooperation increases and work attitudes and

* Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses: innosapark@dankook.ac.kr (J.-C. Park), skkim7447@naver.com (S. Kim), hanslee992@gmail.com (H. Lee).

Received 3 May 2019; Received in revised form 8 November 2019; Accepted 10 November 2019
Available online 11 November 2019
0747-5632/© 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
J.-C. Park et al. Computers in Human Behavior 105 (2020) 106194

organizational performance improve when relationships with superiors, 70.3% of all employees worked using smart devices during non-business
peers, and subordinates are based on trust (McAllister, 1995). In addi­ hours, and the highest percentage constituted white-collar workers
tion, the job satisfaction of new and inexperienced employees differs (71.8%). The average duration of work during non-business hours was
depending on how long-term employees form relationships with their over 11 h per week. Major tasks done using smart devices were receiving
superiors and peers (Haslam, 2004; Levine, Prosser, Evans, & Reicher, and sending work-related e-mails (63.2%), writing and editing
2005). This can also affect the employees’ loyalty to the organization work-related files (57.6%), as well as messaging, processing, and
and adaptability to organizational changes due to changes in the inter­ instructing (47.9%) through social network service (SNS). Due to the
nal and external environments. Therefore, social support (from supe­ excessive use of smart devices for work-related purposes, Korean
riors or peers) can be anticipated to act as a buffer, reducing the negative workers were concerned about personal life invasion (78.8%) and
effects of work-related smartphone use on employees’ stress or job reduced time for family or leisure (70.2%). More seriously, in terms of
burnout (Bakker, Hakanen, Demerouti, & Xanthopoulou, 2007; Law­ health impacts, 44.0% of workers experienced decreased sleep when
rence, 2006; Liu, Prati, Perrewe, & Ferris, 2008; Xanthopoulou, Bakker, using smart devices for work during non-business hours. There have
Demerouti, & Schaufeli, 2007). However, Dormann and Zapf (1999) and been initiatives to prohibit the use of smart devices after business hours
Wade and Kendler (2000) argued that social support does not neces­ in Korea to attempt to stay the potential social problems that could arise
sarily always provide a buffer against job burnout as the buffering effect as a result.
is influenced by the subject or the environment providing social support According to the survey, the majority (73.7%) of employees expected
(Im, 2007). Jimmieson, Tucker, and Walsh (2017) also argued that more work using smart devices in the future, which would result in the
human resource management limited to one job demand variable is greater use of smart devices after business hours. This could be a factor
ineffective and the interaction effect among multiple job demand vari­ in accelerating employee exhaustion. However, publicizing these issues
ables should be examined. Therefore, this study aims to discuss the other from the viewpoint of employees presents problems due to their socially
factors influencing the buffer role of social support. weak standing. Moreover, it is difficult to accurately demonstrate how
Social support can be influenced by the political environment of an smartphone use after work hours affects employees’ lives because of the
organization, which is a place where individual- or team-based activities different variables. Therefore, in Korea (Taylor & Silver, 2019), where
are performed to control or acquire resources internally and to respond smartphone penetration rates (95% for adults) and Internet usage rates
flexibly to changes in the environment externally to achieve organiza­ (90%) are among the highest in the world, it is crucial to identify the
tional goals by effectively using the available resources (Dawson, impact of the use of smart devices after work on employee behavior.
O’Brien, & Beehr, 2016). However, organizational resources are limited
in satisfying the needs of stakeholders. Therefore, the use of power be­ 2.2. Work-related smartphone use after work
tween stakeholders for the benefit of the individual or team occurs
frequently. These limited organizational resources can stimulate Work-related smartphone use is perceived to be related to work
competition or encourage the use of devious methods to acquire and performance (Fender, 2010). Previous studies on this topic have
utilize resources. Workers who fail to obtain the resources needed are revealed three main research trends. The first trend has identified the
likely to face stress or job burnout. In this case, the organizational effect of work-related smartphone use on organizational progress, such
process is dictated more by politics than by formal rules and regulations. as the well-being of workers. These studies can largely be categorized
This negative political work environment is an unfair or unjust one into positive and negative theories. The positive theory asserts that
(Andrews & Kacmar, 2001) where decisions are made based on political smartphone use is a job resource that allows workers to perform their
favor as opposed to merit or actual organizational needs. This negative jobs more effectively (Halbesleben, Neveu, Paustian-Underdahl, &
environment can result in increased conflict and stress and lead to job Westman, 2014). However, the negative theory asserts that smartphone
burnout, negatively influencing organizational performance (Kacmar, use is an influential factor of workers’ job burnout or stress (Day, Scott,
Bachrach, Harris, & Zivnuska, 2011). The buffer role of social support & Kevin Kelloway, 2010, pp. 317–350). In particular, many studies have
can have different effects on this job burnout depending on the negative asserted that work-related smartphone use increases job stress, job
work environment (Dawson et al., 2016). In other words, work-related burnout, and work-family conflict by increasing the actual workload
smartphone use after working hours, as a job demand variable, am­ (Derks et al., 2014), showing more negative than positive effects (Hal­
plifies workers’ job burnout, thereby increasing uncertainty in an unfair besleben et al., 2014). The second trend has identified factors that
political work environment and further augmenting the need for social moderate the relationship between smartphone use after work and
support. organizational performance (Bakker et al., 2007; Dawson et al., 2016).
In this study, we first identify the relationship between job burnout These studies have emphasized the positive role of job resources in
and work-related smartphone use after working hours. We then deter­ controlling the negative effects of job demands on job burnout based on
mine the buffer hypothesis of social support in the relationship between the JD-R theory (Bakker et al., 2007; Van Woerkom, Bakker, & Nishii,
job demands and job burnout. Finally, in order to identify the unfair 2016). Liu et al. (2008) and Xanthopoulou et al. (2007) demonstrated
political work environment’s effects on social support’s buffer role in the the moderating effect of social support, a job resource that alleviates the
relationship between work-related smartphone use after work and job negative role of job demands. Finally, the third trend has aimed to
burnout, we test the 3-way interaction effect of social support and identify the mechanism of smartphone use after work in terms of orga­
perceived organizational politics (POPs). nizational performance. Previous studies have argued that the rela­
tionship between smartphone use after work and organizational
2. Literature review performance is mediated by strain, motivation, and control (Brown &
Palvia, 2015; Piszczek, 2017; Xie et al., 2018). However, these studies
2.1. Work-related smartphone use in Korea focused on demonstrating the indirect rather than direct effects of using
smartphones after work.
The penetration rate of smartphones is rapidly increasing worldwide. Recent studies on work-related smartphone use after work have
In Korea, 36 million people have smartphones—the fourth-highest considered it to be a job demand or job resource based on the JD-R
penetration rate in the world (C. S. Park, 2019). The high penetration theory (Day et al., 2010, pp. 317–350; Piszczek, 2017; Ragsdale &
rate of smartphones also affects the work of employees. According to a Hoover, 2016). In other words, in the JD-R theory, the work environ­
survey by the Korea Labor Institute (KLI) regarding workers with smart ment that employees experience in an organization is either used as a
devices (K. H. Lee & Kim, 2015) revealed that the rate of experience resource that helps with the job or as an excessive job demand that
using smart devices after business hours or on holidays was very high: functions as a stress factor (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007; Demerouti,

J.-C. Park et al. Computers in Human Behavior 105 (2020) 106194

Mostert, & Bakker, 2010). Previous studies have focused on the negative Table 1
effects of work-related smartphone use after work (Derks et al., 2014). Summary of previous research.
Xie et al. (2018) asserted that work-related smartphone use after work Effect Independent Mediator (Me.) Dependent Researcher
causes work-home conflicts because it intrudes upon the private lives of Variable and Moderator Variable
individuals, regardless of time and place. Since work-related smart­ (Mo.)
phone use after work brings about another job demand or requires Positive W_ICT Work-to-life Job Diaz, Chiaburu,
work-related information, workers are likely to experience stress or conflict (Me.) satisfaction Zimmerman,
burnout because they have to devote more time and energy to their jobs and Boswell
in their non-work hours (Ragsdale & Hoover, 2016). Job autonomy Work Fujimoto,
However, when work-related smartphone use is required due to the (Me.) engagement Ferdous,
demands of a certain role, preventing it because of its negative effects is Sekiguchi, and
difficult. In such cases, discussions about the situations in which the Sugianto (2016)
Work-family Focus on Shi, Zhang, Xie,
negative effects of work-related smartphone use are strengthened or
centrality (Mo.) opportunities and Ma (2018)
mitigated are essential. J. Park and Kim (2018) examined the effects of Negative WRSU Perceived Emotional Derks et al.
job demand on job burnout, but only focused on the role of supervisor segmentation exhaustion (2014)
support between them. In addition, because the sample size was rela­ Norm (Mo.)
tively small, there were limitations in testing research the hypotheses Psychological
and generalizing the results. Although, as mentioned above, several (Me.)
studies on the mechanism of smartphone use after work and organiza­ WRSU Supervisor Work-home Derks, van Duin,
tional progress has been conducted recently, research on moderating expectations interference Tims, and
variables that can affect the relationship between smartphone use and (Mo.) Bakker (2015)
organizational progress is still insufficient. Table 1 summarizes the re­
norms (Mo.)
sults of previous studies. Work
2.3. Social support (Mo.)
off-TAJD – Work-family Ghislieri,
conflict Emanuel,
Social support refers to relationships through which one receives Molino, Cortese,
interest, encouragement, and help from superiors or peers (Dawson and Colombo
et al., 2016). Within-organization social support refers to the informa­ (2017)
tion, resources, and emotional support from superiors or peers that W_ICT Work-home Emotional Xie et al. (2018)
integration exhaustion
reduce the negative attitudes and behaviors of the members (Halbesle­
ben, 2006). Therefore, within-organization supervisor or peer support (Me.)
refers to the degree of direct and indirect support from immediate su­ Work schedule
periors or peers in terms of members’ work performance, as perceived by and location
the members themselves (Eisenberger, Huntington, Hutchison, & Sowa, control (Mo.)
Mixed WRSU – Emotional Ragsdale and
1986). This type of social support can largely be categorized into exhaustion Hoover (2016)
emotional and instrumental support (S. Cohen & Wills, 1985). The Work-family
former refers to the interest, consideration, and continuous trust of conflict
others, while the latter includes practical and specific support such as Work
advice, feedback, and resource provision related to the job within the
Job control Work Richardson and
organization (Halbesleben, 2006). (Me.) interference Thompson
Members obtain information on organizational goals and strategies Detachment with family (2012)
from their superiors, on whom they depend to receive not only feedback from work (Me.) Well-being
or encouragement about the job function they perform but also to help Note. W_ICT: work-related use of information and communications technologies
resolve problems that may be either internal or external to the organi­ after work; WRSU: work-related smartphone use after work; off-TAJD: off-work
zation. They expect their leaders to provide support so that they can hours’ technology-assisted job demand.
achieve the goals they set for themselves (House, 1981). On the other
hand, peer support refers to the positive relationship with and the In the JD-R theory, the buffering effect of job resources that alleviate
cooperation, interest, and consideration of peers. Peers not only work the negative effects of job demands is emphasized (Bakker et al., 2007;
together to achieve a common goal in the same workplace but also spend Van Woerkom et al., 2016). In particular, the importance of supervisor
time together; thus, they naturally influence the behaviors of their col­ or peer support is highlighted as a job resource that can alleviate various
leagues (Voorpostel, Van Der Lippe, & Gershuny, 2010). The social ex­ job demands (Dawson et al., 2016). Workers try to strengthen their
change theory (Blau, 1964) also asserts that a devoted relationship control over the work and their social support in order to minimize
among leaders, peers, and members leads not only to increased trust, possible losses, following the minimax principle (Thompson, 1981). As
admiration, and loyalty between the parties but also to the exchange of such, social support is being recognized as an important variable that
resources over time that can be used to successfully perform a job, which can alleviate their job burnout owing to job demands (Bakker &
in turn leads to increased organizational performance (Saks, 2006). Demerouti, 2007; Lawrence, 2006).
Previous studies on social support have focused on the main-effect
and buffering hypotheses of social support. The former states that so­
cial support directly affects the attitudes and behaviors of workers and 2.4. Perception of organizational politics (POPs)
alleviates job burnout, while the latter states that the negative rela­
tionship between stress factors and job burnout is alleviated by social Organizational politics refers to the unofficial, narrow-minded, and
support. In other words, social support is recognized as a resource that illegal behaviors of members who attempt to maximize their own ben­
reduces the negative effects of resource loss owing to the stressful work efits by sacrificing benefits to the organizational goal or others (Min­
situation of employees, based on the conservation of resources theory tzberg, 1985). Many researchers agree that behaviors based on
(Halbesleben, 2006; Hobfoll, Johnson, Ennis, & Jackson, 2003). organizational politics, which maximizes one’s own benefits over the

J.-C. Park et al. Computers in Human Behavior 105 (2020) 106194

benefits to the organization, are unethical, and negatively impact be discussed.

organizational performance (Ferris & Kacmar, 1992; Ferris, Russ, & Recent research on work-related smartphone use at home after work
Fandt, 1989; Kimura, 2013). Previous studies on organizational politics has revealed that it functions as a job demand. However, similar to the
have focused on POPs, or the “self-benefiting behaviors” of the mem­ research by Piszczek (2017), which tested the moderating effect of
bers. POPs refers to one’s perception of the political activities of mem­ work-family separation preference tendencies and the work-related use
bers other than oneself within an organization, and it signifies the of smartphones after work, previous studies seem to have under­
degree to which each member perceives the work environment as po­ estimated the impact of contextual variables by focusing on the indi­
litical (Kacmar & Carlson, 1997). Examples of selfish, “unfair” political vidual characteristics as the moderating variables in the relationship
behaviors within the organization include obtaining approval by cir­ between work-related smartphone use after work and organizational
cumventing the official command system, acquiring certain equipment performance.
or resources through devious means, or soliciting promotions from
high-ranking officials (Andrews & Kacmar, 2001). 3. Research model and hypotheses building
Organizational politics is a common phenomenon and can be viewed
as a part of organizational life (Ferris & Kacmar, 1992). When members 3.1. Work-related smartphone use after work and burnout
get deeply involved in the political activities within an organization, the
POPs of other members—who have not otherwise shown interest in The research model of this study is shown in Fig. 1. The use of
organizational politics—increases. Unfair POPs induces unnecessary smartphones to complete work-related tasks after work, regardless of
political behaviors within the organization thereby potentially time and place, functions as a job demand variable, which is a stress
increasing job anxiety or stress (Ferris et al., 1989). Workers also view factor that requires emotional and physical effort much like work
organizational politics as a source of work-related stress. As organiza­ overload, role ambiguity, and job instability. For example, many
tional politics increases, the stress of the members correspondingly in­ empirical studies have reported that work-related smartphone use after
creases, resulting in psychological tension and an increase in job anxiety work increases the risk of psychological symptoms, such as burnout,
(Ferris, Frink, Bhawuk, Zhou, & Gilmore, 1996). According to the con­ among workers (Naseer, Khan, & Khawaja, 2012; Ragsdale & Hoover,
servation of resources theory (Hobfoll, 1989), workers with increased 2016; Xie et al., 2018). In particular, in their study on an ICT expert
job demands or reduced resources in the work environment cope with group (e.g., software developer, designer, etc.) and non-expert group (e.
the stress of maintaining resources by putting in additional effort to g., HR personnel, etc.), Maier, Laumer, and Eckhardt (2015) found that
steady the balance of job resources and demands in the job while techno-stress leads to techno-burnout in the expert group,
anxiety-induced stress factor paradigm. The negative effects of POPs techno-stress in the non-expert group more directly affects work-family
have also been confirmed in Korea. For example, the results of a survey conflict and job performance. In other words, frequent work requests
of Korean workers revealed that organizational politics has a negative during work hours and emails and various other work requests delivered
impact on organizational performance, manifested through worker through smartphones after work hours, on weekends, and during holi­
stress, job satisfaction, and organizational citizenship behavior (Cheong, days blur the distinction between work and rest. This work overload
2015; J.; Park, 2016). A cooperative organizational atmosphere and induces complications such as stress and job burnout. Therefore, while
opportunities for promotion are factors that reduce POPs (Cheong, the work-related use of smartphones is a revolution that can increase
2015; G. W.; Park & Won, 2013). work performance in today’s technology-based work environment, it
Based on the conservation of resources theory, recent studies suggest can also function as a job demand factor that amplifies stress or job
that work performance stress is not due to just one demand but multiple burnout. Nevertheless, the empirical results of previous research on the
job demand variables occurring together. It is hypothesized that the relationship between work-related smartphone use and job burnout
interactions between the job demand variables increases or alleviates have not been consistent (Derks et al., 2014; Reinke &
the stress and job burnout of the workers. For example, Van Woerkom Chamorro-Premuzic, 2014; Xie et al., 2018). Hence, the following hy­
et al. (2016) articulated that the negative impact of high emotional pothesis was built to confirm the results of previous research and
demand on the absence rate is further worsened by work overload. generalize the analysis results by comparing the existing results with
Faucett, Corwyn, and Poling (2013) stated that the combination of high those of Korea.
levels of role ambiguity and conflict had the most negative effect on job
Hypothesis 1. Work-related smartphone use after work will increase
satisfaction. Furthermore, in their research on the 3-way interaction
workers’ job burnout.
effect of job resources (e.g., support and control) that alleviate job de­
mands, Dawson et al. (2016) stated that when high job control and social
support are achieved in a highly political environment, the negative 3.2. Moderating role of social support
effects of organizational politics on physical symptoms such as backache
and heartburn are alleviated. Previous studies on the moderating effects of job demands and job
In light of this, Jimmieson et al. (2017) stated that human resource resources have supported the buffering hypothesis of job resources
management limited to one job demand variable is ineffective if the (Bakker, Demerouti, & Verbeke, 2004; Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner,
interaction effect among multiple job demand variables increases or & Schaufeli, 2001). Hakanen, Bakker, and Demerouti (2005) stated that
alleviates job burnout. They also emphasized the importance of the the negative relationship between job demand and work engagement is
interaction effect among various job demands and resource variables. In alleviated by job resources, and Bakker, Demerouti, and Euwema (2005)
other words, the advancement of information and communications observed that job resources (e.g., autonomy and feedback) alleviate the
technology (ICT) and the global business environment necessitates more negative effect of job demands (e.g., excessive workload) on job
comprehensive and creative human resource management. Therefore, in burnout. Research on effective intervention methods to mitigate the
order to effectively manage job burnout, it is important to examine not negative effects of work-related usage of smartphones after work is
only the buffering effect of job resources on job demands and the rela­ needed (Xie et al., 2018). To this end, many researchers have asserted
tionship between their variables but also the combined interaction effect that social support, as a job resource, is a core variable that alleviates the
of other job demand and resource variables with respect to each job negative effects of job demands (Bakker et al., 2004; Demerouti et al.,
demand. For example, by recognizing the effect on workers’ responses 2001).
(e.g., job burnout) in an unfair political work environment in which the Social support can also provide practical assistance in employees’
interaction effect of job demands and resources is another job demand company life and affect individual and organizational decision-making.
variable, a solution for more effective human resource management can For example, because superiors not only provide emotional support (e.

J.-C. Park et al. Computers in Human Behavior 105 (2020) 106194

Fig. 1. Research model.

g., interest and encouragement) but also practical help and problem- burnout.
solving feedback, they perform an even more important role in allevi­
ating the negative psychological outcomes of workers (S. E. Park, Kim, & 3.3. Three-way moderating effect of social support and organizational
Kim, 2005). Furthermore, the support of peers who offer not only politics
assistance on various matters but also emotional support cannot be
overlooked (Dunst, Trivette, & Deal, 1994). Cordial relationships and While previous studies have emphasized the buffering role of social
cooperation with peers promote the emotional stability of workers, help support, there have also been claims that the buffer role of social support
to alleviate job burnout, and help workers perform important roles is limited or not effective (Dormann & Zapf, 1999). Wade and Kendler
through teamwork (Berry, Parasuraman, & Zeithaml, 1994). (2000) analyzed the existing research on the buffer role of social support
In East Asian countries where collectivist culture is strong, percep­ and found that the effect was not empirically confirmed in most studies.
tion of social support within an organization can influence after-work This is because the alleviation effects of social support on job stress and
hours. For example, in a collectivist culture, unlike Western societies, job burnout can vary depending on the subjects or circumstances that
workers’ perception is that an organization provides them social status provide social support (Im, 2007). For example, Haslam (2004) argued
and economic power, which tends to weaken work and family bound­ that the effects of social support differ based on the social class of the
aries (Yang, Chen, Choi, & Zou, 2000). Since Korea is also an East Asian supporter. Im (2007) suggested that the buffering effect of social support
culture with strong collectivism (Hofstede, 2001), Korean workers tend is higher in the group with high social identification. Thus, the effect of
to identify themselves with their organizations. They make great efforts social support varies depending on the organizational environment. In
to build relationships with their bosses and colleagues who have a sig­ particular, understanding the organizational environment in which so­
nificant impact on their performance evaluation and reputation. cial support is provided is necessary to understand the buffering effect of
Therefore, in Korea, where the collectivist culture is strong, the social social support on job burnout. Examining the moderating effects of
support of supervisors and colleagues is a manifestation of mutual trust organizational politics that negatively impact social support can help in
and is perceived as a necessary resource for carrying out work, and as better understanding the buffer role of social support.
such, it continues to have effects beyond the scope of work. Job demand variables can strongly and differentially affect job
In East Asia, the relationship between employers and employees is burnout depending on various jobs and work situations. As such, the
more family-like than in Western societies (Powell, Francesco, & Ling, necessity of research on various work environments has been suggested
2009), and employers continue to provide emotional and instrumental (Dawson et al., 2016). For example, Fenner and Renn (2004) stated that
support to build friendly relations with workers (Chen & Chen, 2004). the organizational practice of having members perform their jobs using
As a result, workers who receive support from their supervisors and their smartphones after work or outside of the workplace adds to the
colleagues continue to work even after working hours, subject to the burden of job pressure. This means that smartphone use after work is
principle of reciprocity (Shi et al., 2018). Cialdini and Trost (1998) largely affected by the organizational environment. In an unfair orga­
argued that interaction with supervisors and colleagues determines the nizational atmosphere rife with organizational politics, work-related
social norms of work-related use of smartphones after work. Generally, smartphone use after work can have a negative impact on the motiva­
since a supervisor is a role model and authority figure for a worker, tion of workers. For example, Bakker et al. (2007) stated that the
workers perceive the supervisor’s after-work job instructions after work negative effects of misbehavior on the dedication of students are alle­
as pressure on them outside of work. On the other hand, workers who viated by a positive school atmosphere. In particular, Song (2009) stated
emphasize their relationship with their supervisors perceive their use of that because workers anticipate that their efforts will be rewarded in the
smartphones after work as behavior that meets expectations (Derks future, even if they are not paid for the additional work after work hours,
et al., 2015). Since it has been shown that many employees want to this additional work has a positive impact on motivation. However, in an
belong to a peer group, and because such groups and their members unfair organizational atmosphere, these expectations of the workers are
become integral parts of workers’ lives (Derks et al., 2015), social sup­ not met. As such, they recognize an unfair political work environment as
port can have a lasting positive effect, regardless of work hours. In order a factor that has a negative impact on motivation; ultimately, an unfair
to confirm this, this study tests the interaction effect of social support work environment functions as an important contextual variable that
(supervisor support, peer support) and job demand (work-related affects work-related smartphone use after work. In other words, mem­
smartphone use after work) to increase the possibility of generalizing bers who are exposed to unfair political environments respond more
the buffering hypothesis of job resources. To do this, we set the following sensitively to the increase in the uncertainty of the work environment
hypothesis. depending on their expectations of fair evaluations or future rewards
Hypothesis 2. Social support (supervisor support, peer support) will from the organization. The buffering role of social support on job
alleviate the impact of work-related smartphone use after work on job burnout is more varied in an unfair environment than in a fair one. In
particular, inconsistent research results about the buffering role of social

J.-C. Park et al. Computers in Human Behavior 105 (2020) 106194

support on job demands allow the assumption that the interaction role of Table 3
social support is affected by another third variable (e.g., political work Measurement items.
environment). Furthermore, in his conservation of resources theory, Constructs Items Ref.
Hobfoll (1989) stated that a job resource not only manages job demands
Smartphone use SUW1 These days, I often use my Derks et al. (2014)
but also responds more effectively when faced with very high job de­ after work smartphone to attend to my
mands. Therefore, the interaction effect of job demand and social sup­ job even after work.
port on job burnout can respond more sensitively in terms of another job SUW2 These days, I have to
demand (organizational politics). respond to work-related
text messages even during
Hypothesis 3. The strengthening effect of work-related smartphone the evening hours.
SUW3 These days, I have to check
use after work on job burnout will be moderated by the interaction
for work-related text
between social support (supervisor support, peer support) and percep­ messages until I fall asleep.
tion of organizational politics. SUW4 When my smartphone
blinks to indicate new
messages, I cannot resist
4. Research method
checking them.
Supervisor SUS1 My supervisor helps me get (S. E. Cohen &
4.1. Research sample support the job done. Syme, 1985; Smith
SUS2 My supervisor is willing to et al., 2013)
The surveys for the empirical analysis of our study were conducted extend himself/herself to
help me perform my job.
on Korean workers working for Korean companies without any restric­
SUS3 My supervisor is willing to
tion on the type of industry. As mentioned earlier, the Korean sample is listen to my personal
suitable for generalizing the results of this study because the penetration problems.
rate of smartphones in Korea is very high, and most Korean workers Peer support PES1 My peers help me with (S. E. Cohen &
difficult tasks. Syme, 1985; Smith
have a high rate of smartphone usage after work. The research was
PES2 My peers listen to me when et al., 2013)
conducted after we explained its purpose to the companies’ human re­ I need to talk about work-
sources personnel and team leaders and obtained their consent for related problems.
participation. The purpose of the study was stated on the cover of the PES3 My peers provide a lot of
questionnaire, and the survey was conducted after the respondents were help to maximize job
also notified of the purpose of the study. A total of 500 questionnaires
Perceived POP1 There is a lot of self-serving Hochwarter,
were distributed between May 1st and 30th, 2018. A total of 397 organizational behavior going on. Kacmar, Perrewe,
questionnaires were directly retrieved. Among them, 387 responses politics POP2 Members of my and Johnson (2003)
were used for the final analysis after excluding 10 unnecessary responses organization do what is best
for them, not what is best
with missing values or a consistent Likert score. The demographic
for the organization.
characteristics of the study sample were as follows: The proportion POP3 Members of my
(68.5%) of male respondents was higher than that of females. Married organization spend too
people represented the same proportional split as gender (68.5%). Also, much time ingratiating
over 80% of respondents were between 30 and 49 years of age, and over themselves to those who
can help them.
half (58.1%) held a university degree. The job experience of respondents
POP4 Members of my
was somewhat evenly distributed across all categories (Table 2). organization are working
behind the scenes to ensure
that they get their piece of
4.2. Measurement items the pie.
POP5 Members of my
As shown in Table 3, all measurement items of this study were organization are trying to
maneuver their way into
derived from previously validated scales. In this study, we utilized the
the “in” group.
scale used by S. E. Cohen and Syme (1985) and Smith et al. (2013), POP6 Members of my
which comprised 3 measurement items each on supervisor support and organization are stabbing
each other in the back to
look good in front of others.
Table 2
Job burnout JOB1 I feel emotionally drained (Maslach & Jackson,
Demographic information of the research sample. because of my work. 1981; Shin, 2003)
Characteristics Number (N ¼ 387) Ratio JOB2 I feel exhausted at the end
of the workday.
Gender Male 265 68.5% JOB3 Working with people all
Female 122 31.5% day really is a strain for me.
Marital status Married 265 68.5% JOB4 I feel burned out from my
Unmarried 122 31.5% work.
Age 20s 37 9.6%
30s 167 43.2%
40s 147 38.0%
peer support. Job burnout was measured using items presented in the
50s ~ 34 8.8%
Missing 2 0.5% studies by Maslach and Jackson (1981) and Shin (2003). Job burnout
Education level College degree 100 25.8% can be categorized into emotional burnout, dehumanization, and
University degree 225 58.1% reduction in individual sense of achievement. In our study, 4 survey
Master’s degree ~ 61 15.8% items measured emotional burnout among the 3 subfactors presented by
Missing 1 0.3%
Job experience <5 years 102 26.4%
Maslach and Jackson (1981). All items were measured on a five-point
5–10 years 103 26.6% Likert scale. For control variables, we used the demographic variables
10–15 years 68 17.6% used in previous studies on job demands and resources, and job burnout
15 years < 113 29.2% (Chiu, Yeh, & Huang, 2015; Mellner, 2016). Thus, we controlled for
Missing 1 0.3%
gender (male group ¼ 1), marital status (married group ¼ 1), education

J.-C. Park et al. Computers in Human Behavior 105 (2020) 106194

level, age, and years of work in our study. Table 5

Factor analysis results.
5. Results Constructs Factor Factor Factor Factor Factor
1 2 3 4 5
5.1. Reliability and validity tests Smartphone use SUW1 .897
after work SUW2 .888
The test of reliability for this study was confirmed through Cron­ SUW3 .845
SUW4 .797
bach’s alpha. According to the results of the test of reliability (Table 4),
Supervisor SUS1 .844
the Cronbach’s alpha coefficient of all the constructs exceeded 0.85, support SUS2 .837
which was greater than the 0.7 threshold, indicating satisfactory inter­ SUS3 .816
nal reliability (Hair, Black, Babin, Anderson, & Tatham, 2006). Peer support PES1 .784
PES2 .874
Exploratory factor analysis was performed to test the concept val­
PES3 .861
idity of the measurement tool. Factor analysis was conducted using an Perceived POP1 .829
orthogonal factor rotation (Varimax) through principal component organizational POP2 .798
analysis. The selection criteria for each item in our study were eigen­ politics POP3 .871
values above 1 and factor loading values above 0.4. The results of the POP4 .831
POP5 .866
factor analysis revealed that the Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin (KMO) value,
POP6 .799
which measures the relevance of the sample, was close to 1 at 0.859, and Job burnout JOB1 .870
the value of the sphericity test was significant at 4873.255 (df ¼ 190, JOB2 .882
p < .001) (Kaiser, 1974). Thus, the correlation matrix was suitable for JOB3 .849
JOB4 .871
factor analysis. Measurement items were grouped into 5 factors and each
Eigenvalue 2.992 2.326 2.359 4.395 3.080
had eigenvalues above 1. All factor loading values were also found to be Variance (%) 14.959 11.628 11.797 21.974 15.400
above 0.4 (Table 5). Cumulative (%) 14.959 26.587 38.384 60.358 75.758
Before testing the hypotheses, we conducted a correlation analysis to
examine the direction and relationship of the interaction between the
measurement variables. The results showed significant positive (þ) re­ the correlational analysis showed the highest correlation value of 0.492
lationships between work-related smartphone use after work and POPs between supervisor support and peer support, indicating that there was
as well as job burnout. However, the relationships with supervisor and no problem. Therefore, it was judged that CMB did not severely affect
peer support were not statistically significant (Table 4). In addition, the research results for the measurement data used in our study.
POPs showed a statistically significant positive (þ) relationship with job
burnout and a negative ( ) relationship with supervisor and peer sup­
5.3. Hypotheses testing results
port. Finally, both supervisor and peer support were found to have a
significant negative ( ) relationship with job burnout.
The results of a multiple regression analysis that tested the rela­
tionship between work-related smartphone use after work and job
5.2. Common method bias (CMB) burnout (Model 2 in Table 6) showed that work-related smartphone use
after work had a statistically significant impact on job burnout (þ). In
Given that the measurement data were measured by self-reporting other words, work-related smartphone use after work was found to
from the same subjects at the same time, the possibility of common promote job burnout in workers. Therefore, Hypothesis 1 was sup­
method bias (CMB) can be suggested. Therefore, to resolve CMB in our ported. However, R2 of Models 2 and 3 is relatively smaller than the
study, we tested the empirical analysis results using three methods. First, recommended effect size (J. Cohen, 1988). This implies that there are
there had to be no missing values in any of the variables, and a carefully other factors affecting burn-out and that the interaction effect with
developed measuring tool had to be used (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee, & smartphone use is important.
Podsakoff, 2003). Second, we performed Harman’s single-factor test Through hierarchical multiple regression analysis, we tested the 2-
presented by Podsakoff and Organ (1986). The results of Harman’s way and 3-way moderating effects of work-related smartphone use
single-factor test showed a total of 5 factors; however, no dominant after work, social support, and POPs. Control variables were entered in
factor was found, with even the factor with the greatest explanatory the first stage, independent variables in the second stage, independent
power only explaining 21.974% of the total variation. Podsakoff et al. variables and 2-way moderating variables (work-related smartphone use
(2003) stated that if a variability of variables exists between 18 and after work, social support, and POPs) in the third stage, and 3-way
32%, they are not affected by the error of CMB. In particular, through a interaction variables in the fourth stage hierarchically. The interaction
Bartlett test (significance level < 0.001), it was verified that the rela­ effects were tested by the significance of the change in R2 and the sig­
tionship among variables was not a unit matrix. The KMO measurement nificance of the 3-way interaction variables (P. Cohen, Cohen, West, &
value (0.859) was also above the minimum standard value (0.5), Aiken, 2014). In particular, to minimize the problem of multicollinearity
showing the relevance of the sample (Hutcheson & Sofroniou, 1999). of the interaction variables, we subtracted the average of the indepen­
Finally, the analysis was found to be valid only if the correlation value dent variables (work-related smartphone use after work) and moder­
among all variables was 0.9 or below in order for the problem of CMB ating variables (social support, POPs) from each of those, then
not to occur (Chang, Van Witteloostuijn, & Eden, 2010). The results of multiplied them (Aiken, West, & Reno, 1991). First, the results of

Table 4
Reliability and validity test.
Construct Mean S.D. α 1 2 3 4 5

Smartphone use after work 2.770 1.029 .882 1

Supervisor support 3.453 .748 .857 .047 1
Peer support 3.695 .631 .857 -.025 .492* 1
Perceived organizational politics 2.775 .805 .923 .109** -.346* -.332* 1
Job burnout 2.976 .861 .899 .106** -.163* -.126** .181* 1

J.-C. Park et al. Computers in Human Behavior 105 (2020) 106194

Table 6 Next, the analysis results through a simultaneous entering of the 3-

Hierarchical multiple regression analysis (supervisor support). way interaction variables (Model 5 in Table 6 and Model 4 in Table 7)
Variable Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 showed that the 3-way moderating effects of supervisor support and
POPs had statistically significant changes in R2 (.036, p < .001) and 3-
Constant 0.077 0 0.079 0.028 0.028
Gendera -.104 -.114 -.074 -.033 -.008 way interaction variables. Moreover, the 3-way moderating effect of
(-.056) (-.061) (-.040) (-.018) (-.004) peer support and POPs had statistically significant changes in R2 (.041,
Marital statusb -.024 -.003 .025 -.004 -.020 p < .001) and 3-way interaction variables. Therefore, Hypothesis 3 was
(-.013) (-.002) (.014) (-.002) (-.011) supported. Although R2 of Model 1 in Tables 6 and 7 is relatively small,
Age .031 .039 .038 .026 .008 (.007)
(.028) (.036) (.035) (.024)
the changes of R2 in other interaction models are significant. This shows
Education .022 -.025 .024 .027 .047 (.039) that the effect of smartphone use after work is closely associated with
(.018) (-.021) (.020) (.022) other job-resource and demand factors.
Job tenure .010 .009 -.005 -.003 -.006 In interpreting the moderating effects, Aiken et al. (1991) proposed
(.015) (.013) (-.008) (-.005) (-.009)
using diagrams to accurately understand the effect of the interaction
Smartphone .094 .078 .073 .017 (.021)
use (A) (.112)* (.093) (.087) term. First, the results of a simple slope test between groups on the
Supervisor -.145 -.187 -.154 3-way moderating effects of supervisor support and POPs (Figs. 2 and 3)
support (B) (-125)* (-.162)** (-.133)* showed that levels of supervisor support moderated the effect that
POPs(C) .138 .117 .134 work-related smartphone use after work had on workers’ job burnout in
(.128)* (.109)* (.124)*
A*B -.040 .004 (.004)
an unfair political work environment. High supervisor support did not
(-.038) have much of an impact on the relationship between high job demands
A*C .039 .066 (.074) (work-related smartphone use after work) and job burnout in an unfair
(.043) political work environment (β ¼ .031, p ¼ .924). However, low super­
B*C .261 .262
visor support further strengthened the positive relationship between
(.229)*** (.230)***
A*B*C -.173 high job demands and job burnout (β ¼ .866, p ¼ .002). In other words,
(-.205)*** it was found that the workers’ job burnout was more severe when job
R2 .005 .015 .056 .109 .144 demands were high and supervisor support was low in an unfair work
△ R2 – .011* .041*** .053*** .036*** environment.
F .354 .992 2.789** 4.129*** 5.224***
In a fair work environment, job demands (work-related smartphone
use after work) had a relationship with workers’ job burnout when su­
simultaneously entering 2-way moderating variables of social support pervisor support was high (β ¼ .656, p ¼ .001). In other words, increased
on job burnout (Model 3 & 4 in Table 6, Model 2 & 3 in Table 7) showed work-related smartphone use after work strongly strengthened job
that the explanatory power (R2) was .056 when only independent var­ burnout when supervisor support was high in a fair work environment.
iables were entered to test the moderation of supervisor support, but the However, the relationship between job demands (work-related smart­
R2 increased by .053 (p < .001) to .109 when 2-way moderating vari­ phone use after work) and job burnout did not change considerably
ables were additionally entered. However, the regression of the inter­ when supervisor support was low (β ¼ .107, p ¼.762).
action term was not statistically significant. Furthermore, testing the Next, the results of a simple slope test between groups on the 3-way
moderation of peer support also showed that R2 was .048 when only moderating effects of peer support and POPs (Figs. 4 and 5) showed that
independent variables were entered, and it increased by .016 (n.s.) to there was no significant effect on the relationship between work-related
0.064 when 2-way moderating variables were additionally entered, smartphone use after work and job burnout when peer support was high
although the difference was not statistically significant. Therefore, Hy­ in an unfair political environment (β ¼ .750, p ¼ .135). However, the
pothesis 2 was rejected. relationship between job burnout and work-related smartphone use
after work when peer support was low was statistically significant
(β ¼ .905, p ¼ .005). In other words, it was found that low peer support
Table 7
in an unfair work environment further strengthened the effect of job
Hierarchical multiple regression analysis (peer support).
demands on workers’ job burnout.
Variable Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Finally, the relationship between job demands and job burnout was
Constant .077 .025 .037 .103 not statistically significant in a fair work environment, regardless of high
Gendera -.104 -.091 -.079 -.072 (-.039) (β ¼ .429, p ¼ .313) or low (β ¼ .439, p ¼ .603) peer support. However,
(-.056) (-.049) (-.043)
the group with high peer support in a fair work environment was
Marital statusb -.024 .024 (.013) -.019 -.036 (-.019)
(-.013) (-.010) generally found to have lower job burnout than the group with low peer
Age .031 (.028) .037 (.034) .029 (.027) .009 (.008) support. Overall hypotheses testing results are shown in Table 8.
Education .022 (.018) .006 (.005) .003 (.002) .008 (.007)
Job tenure .010 (.015) -.006 -.010 -.015 (-.022)
6. Discussion
(-.009) (-.014)
Smartphone use .074 (.088) .063 (.075) .006 (.008)
(A) 6.1. Findings
Peer support (B) -.102 -.143 -.063 (-.046)
(-.074) (-.104) This study tested the effect of job demands (work-related smartphone
POPs(C) .158 .128 .114 (.106)
(.147)** (.119)*
use after work) on job burnout and the buffer role of job resources (social
A*B -.014 .098 (.087) support) among Korean workers. In particular, we analyzed the 3-way
(-.012) moderating effect with another job demand (organizational politics) in
A*C .072 (.080) .148 (.166)** order to more accurately understand the buffer role of social support. To
B*C .160 .188 (.143)*
summarize the results of the analyses, first, work-related smartphone
A*B*C -.225 use after work as perceived by the workers had a significant positive (þ)
(-.252)*** impact on job burnout. Second, the moderating effects of social support
R2 .005 .048 .064 .105 were not found in the relationship between job demands and job
△ R2 – .043** .017 .041*** burnout. Finally, a 3-way moderating effect of work-related smartphone
F .354 2.347* 2.325** 3.651***
use after work, social support, and organizational politics was found on

J.-C. Park et al. Computers in Human Behavior 105 (2020) 106194


mobile use(L) mobile use(H)

Fig. 2. Moderating effect of supervisor support in an unfair work environment.



mobile use(L) mobile use(H)

Fig. 3. Moderating effect of supervisor support in a fair work environment.

job burnout. was high compared to when there was low supervisor support. However,
The most interesting finding from our results is that the buffer role of the buffer role of peer support was found in a fair work environment. In
social support manifests differently depending on the organizational other words, in a fair work environment with high peer support, the
atmosphere and the role of the supporter. According to the results, H2 is negative impact of job demands was generally lower than in a group
not significant, while H3 is significant. Previous studies have explained without high peer support. These results indicate that the buffer role of
why social support works inconsistently; since the social support sub­ social support manifests differently depending on the role of the sup­
jects are diverse, the influence may be different depending on who the porter and the (un)fair work environment of the organization, which is a
subject is (Haslam, 2004). This means that previous results may differ contextual situational factor. That is, with the increasing unfairness of
depending on which social members’ support impacts are mainly the political work environment, job authority is high and the job envi­
measured. Thus, the results of this study show that it is necessary to ronment can be controlled by increasing the uncertainty of jobs; the
segment organizational members in order to discuss the impact of social support of a superior who can provide practical help in decision-making
support. This study also shows the importance of employees’ evaluation and can emotionally sympathize with workers plays an important role in
of a fair/unfair organizational context (POPs) for social support to have alleviating the negative impacts of job demands in an uncertain work
an effect. Our results also support Haslam (2004)’s argument that the environment. In contrast, the emotional and social support of peers who
buffer effect of social support may have different results depending on can share excessive job burdens owing to work-related smartphone use
the supporter and the organizational environment. after work serves to reduce the job burnout of workers in a fair work
The buffer role of supervisor support was found in an unfair political environment. In particular, it is noteworthy that peer support plays a
work environment. In other words, in an unfair political environment, buffer role in a fair rather than unfair work environment. In other words,
the negative impact of job demands (work-related smartphone use after the support of peers who understand the job burden or the psychological
work) that induces job burnout was mitigated when supervisor support pressures (e.g., pressure to continuously respond or connect to jobs with

J.-C. Park et al. Computers in Human Behavior 105 (2020) 106194


mobile use(L) mobile use(H)

Fig. 4. Moderating effect of peer support in an unfair work environment.



mobile use(L) mobile use(H)

Fig. 5. Moderating effect of peer support in a fair work environment.

peers—who lack practical authority, unlike superiors who can practi­

Table 8
cally control the job and decision-making—as well as the fact that
Hypotheses testing results.
consideration or empathy for peers is difficult in an unfair political work
Hypotheses Result environment in which self-interest is prioritized.
H1 Work-related smartphone use after work → Job burnout Supported Meanwhile, high supervisor support in a fair work environment was
H2 Work-related smartphone use after work * Social support → Rejected actually found to increase the negative impact of job demands. These
Job burnout
results contrast the previously described buffer role of social support.
H2a Work-related smartphone use after work * Supervisor support Rejected
→ Job burnout Although previous research on the anti-buffer role of social support
H2b Work-related smartphone use after work * Peer support → Job Rejected (Blau, 1964; Kaufmann & Beehr, 1986) has supported these results as a
burnout preceding factor of stress, the argument is that social support focuses on
H3 Work-related smartphone use after work * Social support * Supported the excessive job burden or on stress on the job site rather than on of­
POPs → Job burnout
fering practical help, feedback, or emotional support on the job, and that
H3a Work-related smartphone use after work * Supervisor support * Supported
POPs → Job burnout supervisor support in this situation can actually increase workers’ job
H3b Work-related smartphone use after work * Peer support * POPs Supported burnout (Beehr, Bowling, & Bennett, 2010).
→ Job burnout Lastly, although not hypothesized, our results also confirmed that
POPs directly affect job burnout. Previous studies have extensively
discussed the negative job outcomes and performance of POPs (Vig­
smartphones even after work) that occur due to the organization or the
oda-Gadot & Talmud, 2010), and the relationship between POPs and
superior and who engage in problem-solving is possible in a fair work
job-burnout was also statistically significant in our study sample. Other
environment. It implies the limitations of the emotional support of
studies with Korean worker samples have also shown consistent results

J.-C. Park et al. Computers in Human Behavior 105 (2020) 106194

that POPs have a negative impact on worker stress, job satisfaction, and perceived to be unfair and coercive by workers; supervisor support
organizational citizenship behavior (Cheong, 2015; J.; Park, 2016). focusing on this can be perceived as a burdensome and coercive pressure
Thus, an unfair political work environment has a negative impact on rather than helpful assistance and encouragement, thus increasing the
workers, so effective organizational solutions are necessary to minimize job burnout of workers. In particular, in Korean organizational culture,
or eliminate this. where the average working hours are the second-longest among member
countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Develop­
6.2. Contributions ment (OECD), the boundaries between work and family are unclear, and
there are strong hierarchies, job performance after work that occurs in a
The academic significance of this study can be elaborated as follows. fair work environment is an out-of-role action based on self-sacrifice
First, our study presented an extended research model that describes job beyond behavior that is expected from the defined role. Workers expe­
burnout in terms of “work-related smartphone use after work,” linked to rience role, work-family, and physical and emotional conflicts, which
the “right to disconnect,” which is becoming a social issue, as a job can function as causes that strengthen job burnout.
demand variable. Van Veldhoven, Taris, de Jonge, and Broersen (2005) Second, it is necessary to establish reasonable policies at the national
criticized previous studies that limited their focus to general job demand or corporate level regarding work-related smartphone use after work. In
variables, rather than focusing on useful and diverse job demand vari­ a situation where such use is linked to workers’ job burnout, the
ables that reveal the work stress or job burnout of workers. Unlike reduction of working hours, which has recently been legislated and
previous studies focusing on “perceived job demands,” our study enforced in Korea, is considered a timely policy. However, the important
extended the research domain of job demand variables by theorizing the thing is that we need to hold further discussions about creating a plan for
variable of “work-related smartphone use after work” as a more prac­ the “right to disconnect” after work. It is also a time for discussing
tical one. changes in organizational strategy and CEO awareness of the need to
Second, this study identified the buffer role of social support in the improve the “quality” rather than the “quantity” of jobs in a business
relationship between job demands and job burnout. The JD-R theory environment in which creativity and WLB are emphasized. Therefore,
argues for the buffer hypothesis of social support on various job de­ leaders need to preemptively change their human resources policies to
mands in a work environment. The buffer role of social support has not develop systematic human resource management by establishing ethical
been identified either in previous meta-analyses (Ha €usser, Mojzisch, guidelines for work-related smartphone use after work, evaluating work-
Niesel, & Schulz-Hardt, 2010) or longitudinal analyses (De Lange, Taris, related smartphone use, and instituting a reward system to enhance the
Kompier, Houtman, & Bongers, 2003). The results of this study show effectiveness of the organization and improve ethical awareness for the
that the buffer role of social support, rather than independently having WLB of workers.
an impact, can be affected by a third moderating variable. In other Despite its theoretical and practical implications, our study has the
words, supporting the argument that a moderating variable is a useful following limitations. First, it is not possible to draw a clear conclusion
tool to understand the inconsistency in the relationship between vari­ on causality in this study, in that it is a cross-sectional study by single
ables for which a correlation is anticipated (Baron & Kenny, 1986), it respondents. In other words, it is necessary to analyze causality among
may be more effective to use a third variable and third-term moderation the variables through a longitudinal study, which allows the examina­
test to understand the roles of the two moderating variables in order to tion of changes over time, such as the development of social support or
identify the limited moderating effect of social support (Lam, Chuang, relationships.
Wong, & Zhu, 2019). Second, this study may present limitations of sampling since we
Third, we identified the moderating effect of social support with selected samples from workers in Korea (Seoul and metropolitan areas).
another job demand (organizational politics) between job demand and It may be meaningful to compare the differences in workers’ perceptions
job burnout. Existing studies have either been conducted only on the between different countries or cultures, or to look at the differences
interaction effect of social support with job resources that alleviate job between industries. Therefore, diverse subjects, such as employees from
demands based on the JD-R theory or cannot effectively explain the 3- countries that are culturally different from Korea or from Western
way moderating function between various job demand and resource countries and industries, are necessary in order to increase the possi­
variables. In particular, exploring the conditions in which the interac­ bility of generalizing the research findings from a global perspective.
tion effect of social support occurs is significant because previous Since this study focuses on how the degree of perceived usage affects
research on the buffer role of social support is inconsistent, as discussed other factors, it is also a limitation to not consider the actual degree of
earlier (De Lange et al., 2003; Ha €usser et al., 2010). Therefore, we dis­ usage of the sample for analysis.
cussed the various interaction effects of job demands and social support Finally, in this study, the interaction effects were tested by focusing
(supervisor support, peer support) on job burnout depending on the on job demand variables related to the work environment (organiza­
political work environment in our study for the first time. tional politics, smartphone use after work) and job resources (social
Finally, we increased the possibility of generalizing the JD-R theory support). In order to enhance the generalizability of the results of this
by testing the negative impact of work-related smartphone use after study, it is necessary to test the effects of the 3-way interaction effect
work in a different country from those studied previous research. The between job demand and job resource variables that have been tested in
fact that similar results were found in Korea, where, unlike in Western previous studies, such as perceived task demands, role conflicts, and role
countries, a strong collectivist and hierarchical culture is present, ambiguity.
strengthens the argument for the JD-R theory that workers’ job burnout
is increased. Credit author statement
The practical implications of this study are as follows. First, work-
related smartphone use after work should be minimized as much as Jae-Chun Park: Conceptualization, Methodology, Formal analysis,
possible to benefit employees. Workers perceive smartphone use after Writing - original draft. Sunggeun Kim: Writing - original draft. Hwan­
work as an extension of their job, which signifies that it can lead to job soo Lee: Writing - original draft, Writing - review & editing.
burnout owing to physical and mental effects. This can lead to dissat­
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