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Modeling the Choice of Telecommuting 2: A Case of the Preferred Impossible Alternative


  • Patricia Mokhtarian

    (University of California, Davis)

  • Ilan Salomon

    (Hebrew University)


A conceptual model of the choice to telecommute was advanced in an earlier paper (Mokhtarian and Salomon, 1994). In this paper, we present empirical data from a non-representative sample of 628 City of San Diego employees on key variables and relationships in that model. The relationships among possibility, preference, and choice are examined. A key finding is the existence of a large group of people (57% of the sample) for whom telecommuting is a Preferred Impossible Alternative. Dichotomous and continuous constraints are distinguished, and three dichotomous constraints are defined. Lack of awareness is active for 4%, job unsuitability for 44%, and manager disapproval for 51% of the sample. For 68% of the sample, at least one of these constraints is active. Even among those for whom none of the dichotomous constraints is in force, most people do not choose telecommuting due to the presence of active continuous constraints. For only 11% of the entire sample, telecommuting is possible, preferred, and chosen. The potential impacts of self-selection bias are estimated, and sampling bias is qualitatively assessed. This analysis provides a crude but useful estimate of the potential of telecommuting in the population, and more specifically, the relative share of potential telecommuters who are prevented by key dichotomous constraints from choosing that option.

Suggested Citation

  • Patricia Mokhtarian & Ilan Salomon, 2005. "Modeling the Choice of Telecommuting 2: A Case of the Preferred Impossible Alternative," Labor and Demography 0505009, EconWPA.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpla:0505009
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bagley, Michael N & Mannering, Jill S & Mokhtarian, Patricia L, 1994. "Telecommuting Centers and Related Concepts: A Review of Practice," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt0pr1d308, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    2. P L Mokhtarian & I Salomon, 1994. "Modeling the Choice of Telecommuting: Setting the Context," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 26(5), pages 749-766, May.
    3. Mokhtarian, Patricia L., 1991. "Telecommuting and Travel: State of the Practice, State of the Art," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt4zc486ph, University of California Transportation Center.
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    Cited by:

    1. Rognes, Jon, 2002. "Telecommuting resistance, soft but strong: Development of telecommuting over time, and related rhetoric, in three organisations," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Business Administration 2002:1, Stockholm School of Economics.
    2. Salomon, Ilan & Mokhtarian, Patricia, 1998. "What Happens When Mobility-Inclined Market Segments Face Accessibility-Enhancing Policies?," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt2x75525j, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    3. Mokhtarian, Patricia L. & Salomon, Ilan, 1997. "Modeling the desire to telecommute: The importance of attitudinal factors in behavioral models," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 35-50, January.
    4. Mokhtarian, Patricia L. & Bagley, Michael N., 2000. "Modeling employees' perceptions and proportional preferences of work locations: the regular workplace and telecommuting alternatives," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 223-242, May.
    5. Sumita Raghuram & Dong Fang, 2014. "Telecommuting and the role of supervisory power in China," Asia Pacific Journal of Management, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 523-547, June.
    6. P L Mokhtarian & I Salomon, 1996. "Modeling the Choice of Telecommuting: 3. Identifying the Choice Set and Estimating Binary Choice Models for Technology-Based Alternatives," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 28(10), pages 1877-1894, October.
    7. Tang, Wei & Mokhtarian, Patricia & Handy, Susan, 2008. "The Role of Neighborhood Characteristics in the Adoption and Frequency of Working at Home: Empirical Evidence from Northern California," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt9rg8w9c4, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.
    8. Walls, Margaret & Safirova, Elena, 2004. "A Review of the Literature on Telecommuting and Its Implications for Vehicle Travel and Emissions," Discussion Papers dp-04-44, Resources For the Future.
    9. Hynes, Mike, 2016. "Developing (tele)work? A multi-level sociotechnical perspective of telework in Ireland," Research in Transportation Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 21-31.
    10. Mokhtarian, Patricia L. & Raney, Elizabeth A. & Salomon, Ilan, 1997. "Behavioral response to congestion: identifying patterns and socio-economic differences in adoption," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 4(3), pages 147-160, July.
    11. Shafizadeh, K. & Niemeier, D. & Mokhtarian, P. & Salomon, I., 1998. "The Costs And Benefits Of Telecommuting: An Evaluation Of Macro-scale Literature," Institute of Transportation Studies, Research Reports, Working Papers, Proceedings qt1f01c191, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Berkeley.
    12. Mokhtarian, Patricia L. & Salomon, Ilan & Saxena, Somitra & Sampath, Srikanth & Cheung, Peter & Le, Kate & Bagley, Michael, 1996. "Adoption of Telecommuting in Two California State Agencies," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt2v63b7b8, University of California Transportation Center.
    13. Thomas de Graaff & Piet Rietveld, 2004. "ICT and Substitution Between Out-of-Home and at-Home Work: The Importance of Timing," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 36(5), pages 879-896, May.
    14. Varma, Krishna & Ho, Chaang-Iuan & Stanek, David & Mokhtarian, Patricia, 1998. "Duration and Frequency of Telecenter Use: Once a Telecommuter, Always a Telecommuter?," Institute of Transportation Studies, Working Paper Series qt61t9j2vb, Institute of Transportation Studies, UC Davis.

    More about this item


    telecommuting; teleworking;

    JEL classification:

    • J - Labor and Demographic Economics

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