Modeling the choice of telecommuting: setting the context
In this paper a conceptual model of the individual decision to telecommute is presented. Key elements of that decision, including constraints, facilitators, and drives, are defined and the relationships among them described. The major types of constraints (if negative) or facilitators (if positive) include external factors related to awareness, the organization, and the job, and internal psychosocial factors. The major types of drives are work, family, leisure, ideology, and travel. It is argued that the absence of constraints is a necessary but not sufficient condition for telecommuting to be adopted by an individual. The presence of one or more drives, assumed to be associated with some dissatisfaction, is necessary to activate the search for a solution to that dissatisfaction. The choice set contains those alternative solutions perceived to be feasible by the individual. It may or may not contain telecommuting (depending on whether all constraints are nonbinding or not), and probably contains other alternatives having nothing to do with telecommuting. Each alternative is evaluated in terms of how effectively it satisfies the drive, and the individual's attitudes toward it. The alternative (or bundle of alternatives) which maximizes individual utility becomes the preferred behavioral pattern. However, short-term constraints may prevent the preferred behavior from being chosen. The process is a dynamic one, in which previous choices affect attitudes and constraints and alter drives. Work directed by the authors is under way to operationalize the conceptual model.