CHAPTER 11New Technologies and Stress

Kai-Christoph Hamborg and Siegfried Greif

University of Osnabrück, Germany


Technological innovation is important for industrial organizations trying to survive in competitive markets. However, innovation is never a simple or smooth process. Faced with major technological changes, people react differently; although some seem to relish the challenge, many show symptoms of stress. In the 1970s, new computer technologies started to change nearly every workplace, and also influenced private life. Since then the pace of computer hardware and software innovation has accelerated and the scope of technical change has increased (Clegg et al., 1997). Computer systems have become standard, at least in modern industries and administration, for some time now.

Ever since the beginning of this development, many people feared that stress and unemployment would be the future consequences of the technological revolution. Scientists conducted empirical research to either support or contradict these expectations. In the meantime, it has become evident that innovation and new technologies are not a source of unemployment or low qualification requirements per se (Welsch, 1989). The question is how people react to such permanent innovation, whether it results in stress and which practical psychological consequences should be drawn to help them cope with the consequences.

This chapter provides a summary of research into new technologies and stress. ...

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