Faculty & Research -Employee Frustration with Information Systems: Appraisals and Resources

Employee Frustration with Information Systems: Appraisals and Resources

In today’s digital work environment, employees experience frustration with technology. At moderate levels, frustration can lead to creativity or problem-solving effort, but can tip into aggression or withdrawal when frustration is high.

What makes us frustrated with technology at work?

Drawing on appraisal theory and conservation of resources theory (COR), we propose that certain cognitive appraisals of technology will lead to frustration as illustrated below.

When does frustration lead to negative employee outcomes?

We propose that when employees experience many of the factors in Figure 1, or one of them in a repeated manner, they experience high frustration. In this case, if an employee cannot regulate their emotions, is highly goal oriented or lack experience, this will lead to behaviors such as aggression or withdrawal. In parallel, if there are high organizational constraints (e.g. poor equipment, lack of IT support in a timely and helpful manner) this effect can be exacerbated.

When is frustration beneficial?

Our model proposes that frustration with technology at work is a normal reaction. When there is organizational support and individuals are able to cope with uncertainty and regulate their frustration, this emotion takes on its functional role, motivating employees to try harder and get creative to solve their problems.


This paper draws on the literature in the domains of management, emotions and IS to propose a conceptual framework delineating how frustration with technology at work arises, its affects and some boundary conditions. Table 1. Illustrated how we analysed the IS management literature through the prism of appraisal theory.

How can managers help employee wellbeing in the digital workplace?

  • Transparent communication regarding the aims and role of technology
  • Organize processes for efficient and timely help from support services, supervisory support and employee participation in the design and deployment of technology.
  • Keep the human touch when introducing AI or automated systems.
  • Provide a platform for employees to participate and express themselves concerning how these systems are run and the decision outcomes.
  • Emotional training for employees to turn frustration into problem-solving efforts or creativity.

Reference to the research

González-Gómez, H. V., & Hudson, S. (2023). Employee frustration with information systems: appraisals and resources. European Management Journal, 42(3), 425-436.

Consult the research paper