Situational Strength as a Lens to Understand the Strain Implications of Extra-Normative Work

Charles Calderwood, Rustin D. Meyer, Molly E. Minnen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Employees must often perform work outside of the time and/or space requirements that typically define their job role (e.g., working after-hours, teleworking), especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. We introduce the concept of extra-normative work to capture this idea and draw on situational strength theory to test the seemingly paradoxical hypotheses that (1) the effects of extra-normative work are more harmful to employee strain when this work represents a stronger situation (i.e., one that unambiguously prescribes expected behavior), relative to when this work represents a weaker situation (i.e., one that allows for greater personal choice and behavioral latitude), but that (2) this strain is diminished when situational strength is achieved by maximizing the clarity and consistency of extra-normative work, while this strain is enhanced when situational strength is achieved by imposing greater constraints and consequences surrounding extra-normative work. These predictions were supported in an experimental vignette study, a survey focused on after-hours work experiences, and an investigation of telework in response to COVID-19. We discuss the theoretical implications of viewing extra-normative work through the lens of situational strength, while also outlining how our findings inform best practices surrounding how to communicate about and frame extra-normative work to employees.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)637-655
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Business and Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Applied Psychology
  • General Psychology


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