Networking or not working: A model of social procrastination from communication
This paper provides an explanation for why many organizations are concerned with “e-mail overload” and implement policies to restrict the use of e-mail in the office. In a theoretical model we formalize the tradeoff between increased productivity from high priority communication and reduced productivity due to distractions caused by low priority e-mails. We consider employees with present-biased preferences as well as time consistent employees. All present-biased employees ex-ante are motivated to read only important e-mail, but in the interim some agents find the temptation to read all e-mail in their inbox too high, and as a result suffer from productivity losses. A unique aspect of this paper is the social nature of procrastination, which is a key to the e-mail overload phenomenon. In considering the firm’s policies to reduce the impact of e-mail overload we conclude that a firm is more likely to restrict e-mail in the case of employees with hyperbolic preferences than in the case of time-consistent employees.
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