The Information Society, 20: 325–344, 2004 Copyright c Taylor & Francis Inc.

ISSN: 0197-2243 print / 1087-6537 online DOI: 10.1080/01972240490507974

The Concept of Information Overload: A Review of Literature from Organization Science, Accounting, Marketing, MIS, and Related Disciplines
Martin J. Eppler and Jeanne Mengis
Institute of Corporate Communication, University of Lugano, Lugano, Switzerland

Based on literature from the domains of organization science, marketing, accounting, and management information systems, this review article examines the theoretical basis of the information overload discourse and presents an overview of the main definitions, situations, causes, effects, and countermeasures. It analyzes the contributions from the last 30 years to consolidate the existing research in a conceptual framework and to identify future research directions.

Keywords

information explosion, information management strategies, information overload, information processing, information skills, information technology

In this article, we present a review of the literature on information overload in management-related academic publications. The main elements of our approach are literature synopsis, analysis, and discussion (Webster & Watson, 2002). These three elements serve, in our view, the three main purposes of a literature review, namely, to provide an overview of a discourse domain (e.g., compiling the main terms, elements, constructs, approaches and authors), to analyze and compare the various contributions (as well as their impact), and to highlight current research deficits and future research directions. These three objectives should be met, with regard to the topic of information overload, as a clear overview, an analysis of the major contributions, and an identification of future research needs still missing for this topic. The literature review should also
Received 27 October 2002; accepted 20 May 2004. We thank the four anonymous reviewers and the two editors for their insightful suggestions. Address correspondence to Martin J. Eppler, Institute of Corporate Communication, University of Lugano, Via G. Buffi, 13, 6900 Lugano, Switzerland. E-mail: Martin.Eppler@lu.unisi.ch

help readers (researchers and managers alike) to recognize information overload symptoms, causes, and possible countermeasures in their own work environment, as the flood of potentially relevant information has become a ubiquitous research and business problem, from reading relevant articles or reports, to screening e-mails or browsing the Internet. While this is not the first review article on the topic of information overload (see Edmunds & Morris, 2000), it is the first one to analyze the problem of information overload across various management disciplines, such as organization science, accounting, marketing, and management information systems (MIS). Other review articles on the subject follow a discipline-based approach. Malhotra et al. (1982) and more recently Owen (1992) focus on consumer research (see also Meyer, 1998); Schick et al. (1990) examine relevant accounting literature; and Edmunds and Morris (2000), Grise and Gallupe (1999/2000), and Nelson (2001) concentrate on MIS research. Our review of contributions in the area of information overload is interdisciplinary because it aims to identify similarities and differences among the various management perspectives and show to what extent they have discussed information overload. We hope that by doing so, we can identify synergies between the different streams of information overload research and highlight future research areas. Another benefit of an interdisciplinary literature review is that it can provide a more (cross-)-validated and general collection of possible symptoms, causes, and countermeasures and thus lead to a more complete understanding of the phenomenon. This literature-based understanding can then be used to construct testable models on information overload. A second difference of our review in relation to prior contributions is the way that the literature is summarized and analyzed, as we present the results of our review in a highly compressed and often visual format. By our providing various diagrammatic overviews of the reviewed

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literature, patterns in the development of the field can become visible. The major benefit of this visual approach is a more concise representation of the discourse domain, which allows for easier comparisons and hopefully also leads to a reduction of information overload for our readers. THE CONCEPT OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD In ordinary language, the term “information overload” is often used to convey the simple notion of receiving too much information. Within the research community, this everyday use of the term has led to various constructs, synonyms, and related terms, such as cognitive overload (Vollmann, 1991), sensory overload (Libowski, 1975), communication overload (Meier, 1963), knowledge overload (Hunt & Newman, 1997), and information fatigue syndrome (Wurman, 2001). These constructs have been applied to a variety of situations, ranging from auditing (Simnet, 1996), to strategizing (Sparrow, 1999), business consulting (Hansen & Haas, 2001), management meetings (Grise & Gallupe, 1999/2000), and supermarket shopping (Jacoby et al., 1974; Friedmann, 1977), to name but a few overload contexts (for an extended list of the contexts in which information overload has been discussed in management-related academic literature see Table 1). Research on information overload relevant for the realm of management has mainly been undertaken in the areas of accounting (e.g., Schick et al., 1990), management information systems (MIS) (initially highlighted by Ackoff, 1967), organization science (e.g., Galbraith, 1974; Tushman & Nadler, 1978), and marketing and more specially consumer research (e.g., Jacoby, 1984; Keller & Staelin; 1987; Malhotra, 1984). The main focus of these disciplines is how the performance (in terms of adequate decision making) of an individual varies with the amount of information he or she is exposed to. Researchers across various disciplines have found that the performance (i.e., the quality of decisions or reasoning in general) of an individual correlates positively with the amount of information he or she receives—up to a certain point. If further information is provided beyond this point, the performance of the individual will rapidly decline (Chewning & Harrell, 1990). The information provided beyond this point will no longer be integrated into the decision-making process and information overload will be the result (O’Reilly, 1980). The burden of a heavy information load will confuse the individual, affect his or her ability to set priorities, and make prior information harder to recall (Schick et al., 1990). Figure 1 provides a schematic version of this discovery. It is generally referred to as the inverted U-curve, following the initial work of Schroder Driver, and Streufert (Schroder et al., 1967).

FIG. 1.

Information overload as the inverted U-curve.

This inverted U-curve represents the first important definition of information overload, which was strongly debated in the following (see Malhotra et al., 1982; Russo, 1974; or McKinnon & Bruns, 1992). For an overview of the various ways researchers have marked the point at which information overload occurs, see Table 2. Authors in the field of marketing define information overload by comparing the volume of information supply (e.g., the number of available brands) with the informationprocessing capacity of an individual. Information overload occurs when the supply exceeds the capacity. Dysfunctional consequences (such as stress or anxiety) and a diminished decision quality are the result. A similar way of conceiving the information overload phenomenon compares the individual’s information-processing capacity (i.e., the quantity of information one can integrate into the decision-making process within a specific time period) with the information-processing requirements (i.e., the amount of information one has to integrate in order to complete a task). This is the “classic” definition of information overload, based on the information-processing view of the organization suggested by Galbraith (1974) and expanded by Tushman and Nadler (1978). Following their reasoning, information overload can be explained via the following formula: information processing requirements > information processing capacities. The terms “requirements” and “capacities” in this definition can be measured in terms of available time. The requirements refer to a given amount of information that has to be processed within a certain time period. If the capacity of an individual only allows a smaller amount of information to be processed in the available time slot, then information overload is the consequence. Tushman and Nadler define information processing in this context as the “gathering, interpreting, and synthesis of information in the context of organizational decision making” (Tushman & Nadler, 1978, p. 614). Many variations of this definition exist. Schick et al. (1990) also stress the time factor as the most important issue regarding the information overload problem. Interestingly, this discussion includes the Schroder

1992. 1982. 1967.. . 1992. Meyer. legal disclaimers References Berghel. Sparrow. 1999 Friedmann. Haksever and Fisher. Owen. 1986 Communication processes et al.e. 1993. 1988 Grise and Gallupe. organization.THE CONCEPT OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD: REVIEW 327 TABLE 1 Information overload situations Context/overload situation Information retrieval. 1996. 1974 O’Reilly. 1999 Hunt and Newman. Wilkie. 1980. 1987. production management) • Supermarkets (choice of product) • Bankruptcy prediction process • Capital budgeting process • Welfare assistance (decisions about type and amount) • Innovation choice • Price setting • Advertising media selection • Strategy development • Physician’s decision making • Financial decision making • Brand choice (consumer decision making) • Aviation • Meetings • Telephone conversations • The use of groupware applications • Bulletin board systems (BBS) • Face-to-face discussions • Telephone-company services • Electronic meetings • Idea organization • E-mail • Management consulting • City interactions • Disclosure law. 1999 Griffeth et al. Owen. Revsine. 1990 Schultze and Vandenbosch 1998 Hiltz and Turoff. Schneider. 1982 Hansen and Haas. 1987.. 1988. Malhotra. new product analysis. Denning. Keller & Staelin. . 1993 Swain and Haka. 1997 Iselin. 1994 Meyer. 2000 O’Reilly. 1990 Herbig and Kramer. 1998). 1987).. but also the characteristics of information (i. 1977. contract complexity.. 202). p. 2000 Grise and Gallupe. 1980 Schick et al. the qualitative dimension) are seen as major overload elements. 1997 Bawden. service decisions) • Investment analysis • Library management • Managerial decisions in general • Management (project. 1980 Herbig and Kramer. 2001. information” (1987. and analysis processes • Searching on the Internet • Screening medical information • Financial distress analysis • Evaluating the variety of product functions • Analysis activities (strategic portfolio. 1985 Sparrow. In other studies (Iselin.. 1993 Chervany and Dickson. 1998 Sparrow.. Scammon. 1998. while . the quantitative dimension). 1974. 1970 Jacoby et al. 1977. Speier et al. Iselin. 1974 Casey. 1999. environmental.. strategic. 1990 Schick et al. Iselin.. since the former can influence the latter—that is. 2000 Bawden. 2001 Chewning and Harrell. 1994 Meyer. 2001 Milgram. 1998 Meyer. Keller and Staelin refer to the overall quality or “usefulness of the available . Jacoby et al. 1999. high information load can increase one’s processing capacity up to a certain point (see also Schultze & Vandenbosch. (1967) view that information load and processing capacity are not independent. 1970 Grether et al. 1999. not only the amount of information and the available processing time (i. 1974. 1998 Decision processes Tuttle and Burton. 1999 Meier. 1963 Ackoff.e..

uncertainty. 1996) as opposed to experiments. Not only is the amount of information (quantitative aspect) that has to be integrated crucial but also the characteristics (qualitative aspect) of information. ambiguity. Schneider (1987). Haksever and Fisher (1996). Iselin (1993) information (multidimensional approach) • Subjective component: opinion. available time versus invested time Tuttle and Burton (1999) • Number of interactions (with subordinates. overstimulation • Subjective effect: information overload anxiety Abdel-Khalik (1973). the feelings of stress. Components/dimensions • Inverted U-curve: relationship between amount of information provided and amount of information integrated by decision maker • Information utilization • Volume of information supply (information items versus . job and communication satisfaction • Situational factors and personal factors • Subjective cause component: energy • Symptom: stress. the individual’s decisions reflect a lesser utilization of the available information. the surplus accumulates and is converted by stress and overstimulation into the unhealthy state known as information overload anxiety. Authors who have followed this ap- proach are O’Reilly (1980). pressure. and low motivation are the crucial factors that signal the occurrence of information overload. Information overload occurs when the decision maker estimates he or she has to handle more information than he or she can efficiently use. Meyer (1998) Galbraith (1974). Schick. Tushman and Nadler (1978) • Time demands of information processing. (1988). . Griffeth et al. colleagues. • Information-processing capacity • Quantitative and qualitative dimensions of Owen (1992). Information overload occurs when the information-processing requirements (information needed to complete a task) exceed the information-processing capacity (the quantity of information one can integrate into the decision-making process). Wurman (2001). Beyond this point.328 M. (1974). Swain and Haka (2000) Jacoby et al. (1967). or complexity. Shenk (1997) Schneider (1987) distinguishes various information attributes. TABLE 2 Definitions of information overload Definitions The decision maker is considered to have experienced information overload at the point where the amount of information actually integrated into the decision begins to decline. there are others that conceive overload on the basis of subjective experience. Cook (1993).e. Amount of reading matter ingested exceeds amount of energy available for digestion. Information overload occurs when the information-processing demands on time to perform interactions and internal calculations exceed the supply or capacity of time available for such processing. J. Iselin (1993). Haksever and Fisher (1996) Wurman (1990). Schroder et al. Information overload occurs when the volume of the information supply exceeds the limited human information processing capacity. Beyond these approaches that try to conceptualize and measure the phenomenon of overload objectively. Malhotra (1982).. (1990). In this “subjective” view of overload. Information overload occurs when the information-processing requirements exceed the information-processing capacity. Dysfunctional effects such as stress and confusion are the result. O’Reilly (1980). intensity. confusion. These information characteristics or quality attributes can either contribute to overload or reduce it. et al. Empirical research that follows this subjective view of the overload phenomenon typically employs interviews or survey methods (such as Haksever & Fisher.chunks) • Information processing capacity • Dysfunctional consequences • Information-processing capacity • Information-processing requirements References Chewning and Harrell (1990). thinking time) • Information-processing requirements Keller and Staelin (1987). and Lesca and Lesca (1995). superiors) • Internal calculations (i. such as the level of novelty. EPPLER ET AL. anxiety.

and if that was the case. In order to reduce this large number to a more relevant subset. This selection procedure has led to a total num- ber of 97 considered articles. a publication date after 1970 (when computers started to be used more extensively in the workplace). we introduced further criteria (see Figure 2). that information overload is a dominant and systematically addressed subject in the article and not just mentioned once or twice (resulting in a total of 168 articles). which were: first. but have used labels other than the four terms we used as keywords. Correspondingly. These different terms. the following framework lays out the most important topic clusters in the literature and underscores their relationships. . are not taken into consideration (i. Having described the background of the overload concept. Examples of such important contributions include Miller’s “The magical number seven plus or minus two” (Miller. that the article approaches the subject within the context of one of the four areas of interest. documentation of large-scale engineering designs. 2. METHODOLOGY To screen the relevant articles within the literature on information overload. and appropriate countermeasures for mitigating the problem. In order to moderate this limitation. namely. A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK FOR INFORMATION OVERLOAD RESEARCH In order to provide a more complete (and less fragmented) picture of the research conducted on information overload. that the article is peer reviewed (which resulted in 205 remaining articles). however. information load. EBSCOhost enabled us to search in the title or abstract of an article with the following keywords: information overload. for these and other labels). the symptoms. and finally MIS had the smallest number of articles on the subject. to name but two crucial contributions. we screened it to see whether information overload was indeed a major topic of the publication. 2001. It is important to note that the framework depicted in Figure 3 is not based on a linear logic of causes and effects. 1990. accounting.. 1956) and Simon’s seminal “Information processing models of cognition” (Simon. 1997). The 71 articles that were eliminated discussed information overload in very specific contexts that are quite different from those of today’s organizations. document tsunami. information fatigue/overkill/overabundance/breakdown/ explosion/deluge/flood/stress/plethora. and organization science (with regard to the article’s topics and its publication journal). interdependent relationships. have not achieved wide acceptance within the scientific community and hence do not represent core contributions to this scientific debate. They discussed information overload in contexts such as library and bibliographic research. and students conducting research for their essays). we used an additional inclusion criterion: If a publication was cited in more than two other overload articles. followed by articles within organization science. labels such as data smog. see Eppler. sensory overload. second. Selection criteria and article base. then accounting. which resulted in a total number of 548 retrieved articles.. Shenk. and cognitive load. cognitive overload. 1979). and mass communication) are not extensively addressed. health care. we included it in our analysis. third. Figure 2 reveals that the greatest number of retained articles comes from the marketing domain. One limitation of this methodology is that some articles that have dealt with the issue. it stresses the fact that any countermeasure that is aimed at a specific FIG. These topic clusters are the main causes of information overload. etc. but instead emphasizes a system of circular. MIS.e. marketing. we next briefly outline the methodology used to analyze the relevant literature. of which more than 1000 are peer reviewed. This database provides full-text access to 3000 journals. we used the electronic database provided by EBSCOhost and limited our research to the articles included by the Business Premier Source. Another limitation of our approach is that contributions on information overload that discuss the phenomenon from other perspectives (such as psychology.THE CONCEPT OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD: REVIEW 329 This brief overview of the most frequently used definitions and the contexts within which they were developed delineates the intellectual territory which is examined in this literature review. and finally. We proceeded likewise for books that have been cited frequently in relevant journal articles (such as Wurman. 1998.

Causes of Information Overload The main reasons for information overload at organizational and interpersonal levels can be related to five constructs. 3. we also demonstrate how this conceptual framework can be converted into empirically testable models. Schick et al. 1987). the person receiving. Bawden. for other organizational design elements that influence information overload see Schneider.. frequency. or organization. and quality). it has scarcely been explored empirically (for an exception. Usually information overload emerges not because of one of these factors but because of a mix of all five causes. overload cause can have significant side effects on other causes. team. can lead to greater IPRs because they create the need for more intensive communication and coordination... and the staff structure) that are of critical importance for the occurrence of overload. research that provides “deep context” is missing. symptoms and countermeasures) of the framework and the relevant literature in the subsequent sections. Changes in the organizational design. An important factor influencing the occurrence of information overload is the organizational design of a company (Galbraith. due to disintermediation or centralization (Schneider. the effect of certain (new) information technology applications on the quality of information (see Wang et al. A conceptual framework to structure research on information overload. or purely conceptual. and the information technology that is used (and how it is used) in a company. as most information overload research is experimental. After organizational design. the firm’s development stage. 1974. for instance.330 M. on the motivation of the individual. 2001). Schneider (1987) stresses the fact that it is not only the amount of information that . and on task parameters has been neglected. At the end of this section. 1990. 1978.g. All five causes influence the two fundamental variables of information overload: the information processing capacity (IPC)—which is for example influenced by personal characteristics—and the information processing requirements (IPR)—which are often determined by the nature of the task or process. We discuss these five causes and their influence on IPC and IPR briefly in the next paragraphs. survey based. or communicating information. the next important factor is the nature of information itself. intensity. rules. 1987) or because of a move to interdisciplinary teams (Bawden. common procedures.e. EPPLER ET AL. pro- cessing. Also. Tushman & Nadler. 1974) can reduce the IPR and positively influence the IPC (Galbraith. as shown in Figure 3. the tasks or processes that need to be completed by a person. FIG. the formal and informal work structures). On the other hand. We discuss the main elements (the causes. see Evaristo. better coordination through standards. 1993). 2001).. In particular. Tushman & Nadler. 1974. a concerted effort needs to be made to employ research methods that can capture contextual factors (such as industry characteristics. 1998). There will always be a need for a continuous cycle of improvement and refinement. J. or dedicated coordination centers (Galbraith. In general. the organizational design (i. 1978). This framework also highlights the fact that there cannot be a definitive solution for information overload. These inductively generated constructs are the information itself (its quantity. Although this fact is frequently acknowledged in literature (e.

and general performance. novelty.. consistency. the level of experience (Swain & Haka. 1992). The person and his or her attitude. for this point). there is wide consensus today that heavy information load can affect the performance of an individual negatively (whether measured in terms of accuracy or speed). disregard of low-priority inputs. however. Personal traits thus directly affect IPC. 2001). lower job satisfaction (Jacoby. The development and deployment of new information and communication technologies. 1974. redrawing of boundaries in some social transactions to shift the burden of overload to the other party of the exchange. Schick et al. Many other symptoms noted by different researchers are listed in Table 4. The combination of these two factors that increase the IPR can lead to information overload. 1982. we can now look at their effects or observable symptoms. he identified six common reactions to the constant exposure to heavy information load. 1984). In this way. 1999).. Information technology can thus potentially increase the individual’s IPC while at the same time increasing the IPR. A complete list of the specific overload causes that are mentioned in the relevant literature can be found in Table 3. qualification. 2001). who analyzed signal overload for people living in large cities. Improving the quality (e. 1975) and the more complex it is in terms of the configuration of its steps (Bawden. are universally seen as one major cause of information overload (Bawden. especially among the groundbreaking studies in marketing (the inconsistencies were in part due to methodological problems. conciseness. Having reviewed the major causes of information overload and their impact on IPC and IPR. for example. but also the specific characteristics of information (also see Sparrow. 1999). Symptoms of Information Overload One of the first researchers to examine the effects of overload was the American psychologist Stanley Milgram (1970). a person has difficulties in identifying the relevant . 1984). refusal of communication reception (via unlisted telephone numbers. it causes more frequent interruptions (Speier et al. 1978). and extranets. Tushman & Nadler. and intensity (Schneider. unfriendly facial expressions. information technology and its use and misuse are a major reason why information overload has become a critical issue in many organizations in the 1980s and 1990s. and finally creation of specialized institutions to absorb inputs that would otherwise swamp the individual (see also Weick. but especially e-mail. There are.). frequently described symptoms of information overload on the individual level are a general lack of perspective (Schick et al. decision time. 1999. unclear information. etc. 1984). 2001)—the socalled paralysis by analysis. Muller.) of information can improve the information-processing capacity of the individual. This fact is aggravated by a reduced IPC as a result of frequent context switching or distraction. Malhotra. complex tasks or processes directly increase the IPR. The less a process is based on reoccurring routines (Tushman & Nadler. Edmunds and Morris (2000). 1979. The big question with regard to effects of information overload is whether and how it impacts decision accuracy. 1982. 1974. reduction of inputs by filtering devices. Another important factor is the tasks and processes that need to be completed with the help of information. as he or she is able to use high-quality information more quickly and better than ill-structured... Closely related to the problem of e-mail overload is the discussion of pull versus push technologies and whether they have a positive or negative impact on an individual’s IPC and IPR. Simpson and Prusak (1995) argue that modifying the quality of information can have great effects on the likelihood of information overload. stress advantages like the fact that e-mail is an asynchronous form of communication and is less likely to interrupt the normal work flow.. but increases on the other the amount of potentially useless information that a person has to deal with (Edmunds & Morris. Simon. the higher is the information load and the greater is the time pressure on the individual (Schick et al. 2000). Such characteristics are the level of uncertainty associated with information and the level of ambiguity.. and the motivation of a person (Muller. 1999). 2000). 1970. 1974. more recent studies include specific limiting factors such as personal skills (Owen. When information supply exceeds the information-processing capacity.. In the organizational context.THE CONCEPT OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD: REVIEW 331 determines information overload. etc. also arguments in favor of e-mail. Grise & Gallupe. complexity.. cognitive strain and stress (Malhotra. While research results have often been contradictory. a greater tolerance of error (Sparrow. It is structured according to the five categories discussed earlier. Information overload is also more likely if managers face an ever greater number of parallel projects or tasks that they have to manage (see Wurman. Malhotra et al. 1990). Galbraith. In addition. 2001. 1990). such as the Internet. Finally. and the inability to use information to make a decision (Bawden. 1987). 1998). which are allocation of less time to each input. 1990). Pushing selected pieces of information to specific groups reduces on the one hand their information retrieval time. 1982.. Information overload is especially likely if the process is frequently interrupted and the concentration of the individual suffers as a consequence (Speier et al. comprehensibility. While earlier studies simply state that a person’s capacity to process information is limited (Jacoby et al. 2000).g. and experience are another important factor. intranets. In his study. see Jacoby et al.

1994. 1987 Schneider. 1992. 1999 Bawden. 1999 Schick et al. 1994 Kock. 1982 Schneider. 1974. groupware) Information technology • Push systems • E-mails • Intranet. 1980 Van Zandt. 1994 Bawden. attitude. 1967 Schneider. 1990 Grise and Gallupe. ideology. Sparrow. 1967 Sparrow. 1985. skills. 1990 Speier et al. extranet. 2001. Schultze and Vandenbosch. temperature. Hiltz and Turoff..g. Swain and Haka.. 1967 Tushman and Nadler. 2001 Bawden. age) • Personal situation (time of the day.... 2001. Herbig and Kramer. J. 1999 Bawden. 2001 Edmunds and Morris. 1987. 1998. Tushman and Nadler. Muller. noise. 1987 Edmunds and Morris. 2001 Wilson. 1998 Schultze and Vandenbosch. 1987 Schneider. Speier et al... info available) • Diversity of information and number of alternatives increase • Ambiguity of information • Novelty of information • Complexity of information • Intensity of information • Dimensions of information increase • Information quality.. too detailed standards (in accounting) • Simultaneous input of information into the process • Innovations evolve rapidly—shortened life cycle • Interdisciplinary work Organizational design • Collaborative work • Centralization (bottlenecks) or disintermediation (information searching is done by end users rather than by information professionals) • Accumulation of information to demonstrate power • Group heterogeneity • New information and communication technologies (e. satisfaction • Personal traits (experience. O’Reilly. 1975 Tushman and Nadler. 1998. 1999 Schneider. 1984. Jacoby et al. Iselin. 1987 Schroder et al. 1987. 2000 Herbig and Kramer. 2001. 1984. Malhotra. 1999. value. 1994 Information characteristics • Uncertainty of information (info needed vs. 1978 Bawden. EPPLER ET AL.332 M. 2001 Maes. 2001 Muller. Schroder et al. 1988. 1984 Owen. amount of sleep) • Senders screen outgoing information insufficiently • Users of computers adapt their way of interacting with computers too slowly with respect to the technological development • Social communication barriers break down • Number of items of information rises References Herbig and Kramer. 2001 Bawden. 1975 Schick et al. Jacoby 1977. 2000 Edmunds and Morris. TABLE 3 Causes of information overload Causes of information overload Personal factors • Limitations in the individual human information-processing capacity • Decision scope and resulting documentation needs • Motivation. Internet • Rise in number of television channels • Various distribution channels for the same content • Vast storage capacity of the systems • Low duplication costs • Speed of access Schultze and Vandenbosch. 1999 Ackoff. 1998 Bawden. 2000 Grise and Gallupe. 2000 Owen. 1992. half-life • Overabundance of irrelevant information Task and process parameters • Tasks are less routine • Complexity of tasks and task interdependencies • Time pressure • Task interruptions for complex tasks • Too many. 1998 Schultze and Vandenbosch. 2000 Schultze and Vandenbosch. 1996 Schneider. 1987. Schneider. 1998 .

1999 Bawden. 1998 Schneider. 1992. and finally does not reach a decision of adequate accuracy (Malhotra. 1985 Sparrow. 2000. 1999 Schroder et al. 1987 Owen. Malhotra. 1987 Meyer. 1998 Bawden. Hwang and Lin. Schultze and Vandenbosch. 1987 Arbitrary information analysis and organization Jacoby. 1990 Schneider.. Hiltz and Turoff. Herbig and Kramer. 1984). 1994. 1990. 2001 Bawden. 2001. 1982. 1984. 1982). Jacoby. confusion. 1993 Cook. 1997. 1999). Walsh. 1982.. 1984. Edmunds and Morris. 1987 Herbig and Kramer. 1999 Schick et al. Sparrow. 1977). 2001. becomes highly selective and ignores a large amount of information (Bawden. needs more time to reach a decision (Jacoby.. Schick et al. 1984. 1995 Malhotra. Schneider. Wurman. 2001. Jones. has difficulties in identifying the relationship between details and the overall perspective (Schneider. and cognitive strain • Lacks to learn since too little time is at disposition • Greater tolerance of error • Lack of perspective • Sense of loss of control leads to a breakdown in communication • False sense of security due to uncertainty reduction (overconfidence) References Swain and Haka. Schick et al.. 1987). 1997. 1999 Sparrow. 1967 Bawden. Hiltz and Turoff. Jacoby. Because of these many potential negative effects. 1997 Jones.. 1977. 1990 Baldacchino et al.. Schneider. O’Reilly. 1980 Suboptimal decisions Strenuous personal situation information (Jacoby. 1993 Jacoby. 1990 Sparrow. 1985. 1984. Herbig & Kramer. 2000 Cook. 1994. 2001. 2002 Jacoby.THE CONCEPT OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD: REVIEW 333 TABLE 4 Symptoms or effects of information overload Symptoms Limited information search and retrieval strategies • Search strategies through information sets become less systematic (this is less true for more experienced searchers) • Limited search directions • Move from compensatory search patterns to noncompensatory search patterns • Identification and selection of relevant information becomes increasingly difficult • Difficulties to reach target groups (sender perspective) • Overlapping and inconsistent information categories • Ignore information and be highly selective (omission) • Loss of control over information • Lack of critical evaluation (become too credulous) and superficial analysis • Loss of differentiation • Relationship between details and overall perspective is weakened and peripherical cues get overestimated • Higher time requirements for information handling and time delays • Abstraction and necessity to give meaning lead to misinterpretation • Decision accuracy/quality lowered • Decision effectiveness lowered • Inefficient work • Potential paralysis and delay of decisions • Demotivation • Satisfaction negatively affected • Stress. Sparrow. 1994 Eppler. 1998. Schick et al. 1999. it is important to . 1990 Shenk.

Such a methodology should combine insights from various disciplines to provide effective countermeasures that can be adapted to various contexts. In the next subsection we provide an overview of such mechanisms. one can then build groups of symptoms through factor analysis and correlate these groups (and the individual symptoms) with the question regarding overload (e. Grise & Gallupe. but also proposes possible effective countermeasures to address the issues related to information overload. or visualization algorithms) that help to process large amounts of information. a systematic methodology (comparable to other standardized problem solving approaches) to prevent or reduce information overload is still missing. which uses the same organizational schema that was used to classify the causes. For example. 1974). For instance. Clearly. The next subsection outlines how our framework can be employed to conduct such empirical research. The symptoms that are listed in Table 4 can be converted into questions. devise effective countermeasures. Meyer.. whereas the dependent variable would be . so that the two (causes and countermeasures) can be directly related to one another (keeping in mind possible side effects). The data are collected via questions asked in a Likert-scale manner. Such prescriptive suggestions must be based on rigorous empirical research. 1990) and providing quality filters (Ackoff. Each cause group consists of the individual items described in the causes summary table (see Table 3). that it is visualized. Finally. 1967. 1990. They should address not only the symptoms of information overload but also its causes. This can help us understand which symptoms may be most representative of the overload phenomenon and thereby validate our symptom categories. EPPLER ET AL. it is important to provide training programs to augment the information literacy of information consumers (Bawden. technological. several authors advocate the use of intelligent information management systems for fostering an easier prioritization of information (Bawden. In addition. insights from consumer research on the importance of branding for reducing information overload can be used for new MIS instruments (Berghel. In the survey just described we can see that many authors list a multitude of possible countermeasures. The second testable model relates to the possible symptoms of information overload. Edmunds & Morris. the independent variables would be the identified symptoms. 1996). 1997. 2000. Schick et al. at the level of information technology. but that they do not provide specific suggestions on how to combine organizational. various authors take on conflicting positions. On the individual level.g. that it is delivered in the most convenient way and format (Simpson & Prusak. 2001) and information management (Edmunds & Morris. Schick et al. 2001. With regard to information itself. collaboration with information specialists within the process teams (Edmunds & Morris. While earlier contributions stress the importance of self-contained tasks and lateral relationships (Galbraith. 1990) and to give employees the right tools so that they can improve their time (Bawden. As far as improvements for the organizational design are concerned. If the cause of information overload relates to process problems. the correlation between causes and the occurrence of information overload (measured as the subjective feeling of not being able to process all relevant information in the available time) can be measured. In this way. Examples of such intelligent systems are decision support systems (DSS) that reduce a large set of options to a manageable size (Cook. three testable models can be derived from the framework. Schneider.and task-based improvement actions. 1994). 1987).. In this model. information overload can be reduced if efforts are made to assure that it is of high value.334 M. Schick et al. and that signals and testimonials are used to minimize the risks associated with information (Herbig & Kramer. 2001. 1998). 2000). and use of facilitators or collaborative tools (such as virtual team rooms) as “process enablers” for cognitive support (Grise & Gallupe. 1995). 2000) skills. automatic summarizers. A list of countermeasures mentioned in the literature can be found in Table 5. Countermeasures Against Information Overload Literature on information overload not only discusses major causes and effects. 2001. more recent studies see this focus on collaborative and interdisciplinary work as a cause rather than as a countermeasure of information overload (Bawden. Koniger & Janowitz. 1999/2000). Wilson. These countermeasures range from general suggestions concerning attitude to very specific software tools (such as filtering agents. 1974). Testable Models Derived from the Framework The framework just presented serves primarily as an orienting map for understanding and examining the overall scope of information load research across different disciplines. 1993). Meyer. and information. 2001. “Do you feel that you suffer from information overload?”). it can also serve as a basis for future empirical research. compressed. Based on questionnaire results. Jacoby et al.. several authors suggest standardization of operating procedures (Bawden. However. personal. The first testable model operationalizes the five cause categories as independent variables that lead to (or predict) information overload (the dependent variable). 1999/2000). 1998. and aggregated (Ackoff. J.. 1995. a questionnaire based on this model can be used to test whether we have allocated the individual causes to the right cause category (based on goodness of fit or Cronbach alpha values). 1967.

the use of graphs • Formalization of language • Brand names for information • Form must follow function must follow usability • Simplify functionalities and design of products • Customization of information • Intelligent interfaces • Determine various versions of an information with various levels of detail and elaborate additional information that serves as summaries • Organize text with hypertext structures or gophers • Interlink various information types (as internal with external information) • Standardize operating procedures • Define decision models developed for specific decision processes (e. 1990 Bawden.. 1967 Schick et al. 2001 Ackoff.. 1994 Herbig and Kramer.THE CONCEPT OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD: REVIEW 335 TABLE 5 Countermeasures against information overload Countermeasures Personal factors • Improve personal time management skills and techniques • Training programs to augment information literacy: information-processing skills such as file handling. 1990 Sorohan. 1994 Schick et al. 1998 Galbraith. 1990 (Continued on next page) . aggregate. conciseness) by defining quality standards • Focus on creating value-added information • Promulgation of rules for information and communication design (e. Schneider. 1997. decision rules) • Install an exception-reporting system • Allow more time for task performance • Schedule uninterrupted blocks of time for completing critical work • Adequate selection of media for the task • Handle incoming information at once • Collaboration with information specialists within the teams • Bring decisions to where information exists when this information is qualitative and ambiguous • Install process enablers for cognitive support • Use simpler information-processing strategies Task and process parameters Nelson. 1967. Chewning and Harrell. using e-mail. 2001. Scammon. 2003. etc. Simpson and Prusak. 1999/2000. Schick et al.. 1974 Grise and Gallupe. 1985. Koniger and Janowitz. 1990 Van Zandt. 1997 Herbig and Kramer. 1995 Bawden. 1990 Sorohan. 1994 Ansari and Mela. 2001. 1990. Hiltz and Turoff. 2001 Denton.. 1997. 1999/2000 Schick et al.. Grise and Gallupe. 2001 Denning. 2001 Allert. 1982 Information characteristics • Visualization. classification of documents. 2001..e. 1995 Edmunds and Morris. and structure information References Bawden. 2001 Bawden. 1987. Koniger and Janowitz. Keller and Staelin.g. 1995. 1990 Bawden. 1995 Simpson and Prusak. 2000 Schick et al.. 1974 Berghel. Meglio and Kleiner. Meyer. 1988. 1987. Meglio and Kleiner.. Berghel. 1967. Meglio and Kleiner. e-mail etiquette) • Compress. 2001. 1994 Edmunds and Morris. 1990. Iselin. Jones. • Improve personal information management • Systematic priority setting • Improve the screening skills for information • Raise general quality of information (i. 2000 Galbraith. 1977 Chan. 1990 Ackoff. 1990 Ackoff. 2001.g.. Schick et al. categorize. its usefulness.

EPPLER ET AL. 1994 Hiltz and Turoff. Jones.. 2001. 2000. 1974 Schneider. 1978 Galbraith. 1987 Information technology application Ackoff.336 M. 2000 Cook.) • Coordination by goal setting. TABLE 5 Countermeasures against information overload (Continued) Countermeasures • Regulate the rate of information flow • Search procedures and strategy • Define specific.. 2001. Hiltz and Turoff. Edmunds and Morris. authority structures based on output categories) → autonomous groups • Reduce divergence among people (e. Denton. Schick et al. Friedmann. Sorohan. teamwork etc. 2000. 1970 Baldacchino et al. 1967. 1982. Grise and Gallupe. create liaisons between roles. design • Creation of lateral relationships (integrate roles. 1982. 1974 Galbraith. 2000.. Edmunds and Morris. 1997. Herbig and Kramer.g. 1999. Tushman and Nadler. 1993 Nelson. clear goals for the information in order to contextualize it and turn it meaningful • Communicate information needs to providers • Provide incentives that are directly related with decisions in order to make decision relevant information be processed more effectively • Install a measurement system for information quality • Coordination through interlinked units • Augment info processing capacity through chances in org. Meglio and Kleiner 1990 Meglio and Kleiner.. 2001 Ackoff. 1990 Galbraith. 1985 Edmunds and Morris. Bawden. filing systems) .. 1998. 1998. Denning. 1999. 1977. 1994 • Intelligent data selectors (intelligent agents) • Use systems that offer various information organization options (e. Schick et al. Bawden. 1994 Grise and Gallupe. 1990. Maes. with regard to expectations) trough socialization (e. 1982. 2000 Ackoff. 1967.. 1997 Berghel. 1978 Galbraith. 1985.g. Meyer. 2001 Tushman and Nadler. 1974 Bawden.g. 2001. 1967 Schick et al.. 1974 Galbraith. 2001. 2002. and rules depending on frequency of exceptions (uncertainty) • Creation of self-contained tasks (reduced division of labor. Denning. 1990 Tuttle and Burton. 1998. hierarchy. Olsen et al. 1985. 2000. Meyer. 1999 Organizational design Denton. J. 1974. 1999. Revsine. frequent face-to-face interactions) • Install appropriate measures of performance • Hire additional employees • Create slack resources • Intelligent information management (prioritization) • Install voting structures to make users evaluate the information • Prefer push to pull technologies • Facilitator support through (e-)tools • Decision support systems should reduce a large set of alternatives to a manageable size • Use natural language processing systems (search with artificial intelligence) • Information quality filters Reference Grise and Gallupe. Hiltz and Turoff. 1990 Denning.

The Publication Timeline: Overload Research Patterns by Discipline The timeline diagram does not focus on particular constructs. and management information systems (MIS).THE CONCEPT OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD: REVIEW 337 the occurrence of information overload (in the opinion of the respondents). For their theoretical base. the marketing researchers rely on the findings of psychologists and cognitive scientists. we have limited ourselves to articles that were cited repeatedly by other articles. we look at each domain timeline in detail and provide suggestions for future research. namely. or more specifically within consumer research. Marketing Information overload within marketing. we employ two visualization formats: the publication or citation timeline for the analysis of the impact of relevant authors in various management domains and the nature of their contribution. theoretical progress. . but on the authors and their impact. since the resulting diagrams would get too crowded and loose clarity and insight. In order to generate further suggestions on the future of information overload research. whereas the dependent variable is the occurrence of information overload for the questioned individuals. The discussion on how our framework can be tested with the help of three individual models indicates how future studies in the field can proceed. The independent variables are the already implemented countermeasures in a company. accounting. Biases and Tendencies in the Literature In order to characterize the four literature domains. The framework presented so far gives a systematic overview on the major findings of scientific research on information overload. marketing. The goal instead is to foreground major contributions. The objective is not to map out all the articles per field and show all the references to other overload articles. in particular on Miller’s study on our limited capacity for FIG. It is a good visualization tool if the historic or process perspective of a discourse is analyzed. It uses the five (cause) categories to ask respondents about countermeasures that may or may not be in place in their organization (and that may or may not help fight overload). To determine the “relevant” contributions. The main challenge in developing these three models is adequately converting the factors we have found in the literature to scaleable questions that can be answered accurately (and honestly) by the respondents. 4. This will enable us to see other development needs and neglected areas. Timeline of publications and citations of information overload studies in the area of marketing. has become a critical issue since the explosion in the number of brands in the early seventies. Figure 4 reveals that only a few studies have been done on a conceptual level and almost all the overload research in marketing is of empirical nature. the effectiveness of these countermeasures (as well as their grouping) can be evaluated. In the following subsections. but more rigorous. We have drawn a timeline diagram for each one of the four areas in which information overload research has primarily been conducted over the last 30 years. organizational behavior. The third testable model addresses possible countermeasures against information overload. This may lead to slower. and the discipline Venn diagram for the analysis of interdisciplinary research on the topic to gain a deeper understanding of the information overload phenomenon. we next go beyond the mere description of the field and analyze its inherent discourse patterns. Based on the survey results.

and Marin (1988). Similar to the case of marketing. 1956). however. but not specifically in information overload-related topics. the researchers who conduct empirical research often refer to conceptual studies. the empirical research is. The main theme of accounting studies is the impact of information load on decision quality or accuracy for matters regarding budgeting decisions (as in Swain & Haka. The few empirical papers include O’Reilly (1980) and Griffeth. EPPLER ET AL. As a tendency. the empirical research in accounting is based on experimental situations and not on field research in organizations. and Simon and Newell (1971). timing. Moreover. the research is not particularly interdisciplinary. exclusively based on experiments and neglects surveys or case studies. Miller (1956). and others. Accounting The timeline of the contributions from the field of accounting (Figure 5) presents a similar picture as the one of marketing. first study. on decision time. Scammon (1977). Again. . J. Jacoby and Malhotra emerge to be the gurus within the field. The main reason for this looseness of structure is that the authors refer to organization scientists who made important contributions for general organizational issues. The methodology employed by them was contested by Wilkie (1974). These contributions are therefore not visible in the diagram. the information overload literature in the marketing domain neglects vital issues such as skills. Possible reasons for this FIG. As a result of this focus. Nevertheless. but the latter rarely refer to the former. The tangled structure of the references reflects the intense debate that occurred around the Jacoby et al. in which Galbraith and Tushman and Nadler have prominent positions. Carson. The measurement tools they employ are questionnaires and not experiments. and Abdel-Khalik are authors with a high impact on the studies of information overload in accounting. (1990) and to a smaller extent also Tuttle and Burton (1999) are exceptions to this gen- eral trend. The main question that preoccupied the researchers was whether the number of brands and their attributes (information load) influence product choice of consumers. insofar as the conducted research is almost exclusively empirical. Organization Science What is striking in the area of organization science is that almost all the contributions on information overload are conceptual articles. The most intense research activity took place in the 1990s. with the only exception of Muller (1984). Figure 5 shows that Casey. 1980). These two studies work with a subjective definition of information overload and focus on the satisfaction of the person experiencing information overload. Iselin. This. and on the actual number of information items that can be processed in a typical purchase situation. Timeline of publications and citations of information overload studies in the area of accounting.338 M. the marketing discipline has legitimized the research on information overload by experimentally documenting the inverted U-curve effect. Apart from these fundamental insights from psychology. 2000) or predictions of bankruptcy (as in Casey. Both articles include extensive literature reviews and contain important insights from organization researchers as well as from MIS scholars. the theoretical basis is borrowed from psychologists and cognitive scientists such as Schroder et al. (1967). would be crucial for generating consistent theoretical progress in the study of overload in accounting. Figure 6 depicts a rather loosely connected structure of citations. 5. and technological and organizational issues. Malhotra (1984). Schick et al. Additionally. The most intense period of research on information overload was from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s. information processing (Miller. the research in the field of marketing focuses on the impact of information overload on decision quality. Generally.

Consequently. . or analyzed. and Hiltz & Turoff. and organization science—the MIS researchers do not seem to profit enough from already existing information overload studies outside of their field. Timeline of publications and citations of information overload studies in the area of organization science. but seen as a given problem that has to be resolved. As mentioned earlier. Information overload per se is mostly not systematically defined. as well as the trend toward collaborative work and flat hierarchies (Meyer. the focus of MIS researchers has been to propose effective countermeasures. that the research in this domain is not highly interdisciplinary. 1982. Management Information Systems Surprisingly. The organization science researchers are mainly interested in showing whether and how the information-processing capacity of an individual can be expanded through changes in the organizational design and how this design influences the information processing requirements. what has been said for the other research areas is also true for organization science. MIS has not been the discipline that has dealt with information overload in the most extensive manner. Again. The major publication activity occurred in the 1990s (except for Ackoff. and not to study the root causes of the problem or its contextual factors. In spite of this fact—and with the exception of Schultze and Vandenbosch’s article (1998) that combines insights from accounting. 7. heightened interest in the 1990s include the rapid propagation of the Internet and other information technologies. Authors in the field of MIS mostly use the concept of information overload as a starting point for their technology application discussions. 1998). Timeline of publications and citations of information overload studies in the area of MIS. discussed. marketing. 6. Denning. 1967. FIG. the net number of articles dealing primarily with information overload in the MIS field is remarkably low when compared to the total number of MIS papers that address the phenomenon in their title or abstract. 1985) (Figure 7). namely.THE CONCEPT OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD: REVIEW 339 FIG. This is surprising for a field that typically incorporates many concepts from related social sciences.

is a crucial prerequisite for cumulative research. But all the four areas. One very valuable exception is again the contribution of Schultze and Vandenbosch (1998). the two approaches do not often refer to one other. J. The inclusion criteria are the same ones as for the publication timelines. The Status of Interdisciplinary Information Overload Research The Venn diagram depicted in Figure 8 maps the crosscitations between major overload articles. only a few authors integrate various management perspectives to study the problem of information overload. MIS researchers tend to be mainly interested in finding technical solutions for the information overload problem. because it does FIG. there are no intersections between the area of accounting and either marketing or MIS to our knowledge. EPPLER ET AL. Most of the intersections (in terms of citing and using relevant work from other domains) are visible within the area of organization science. Some authors of the other three fields integrate findings from organization science. there is no intersection between marketing and MIS. In fact. . Interestingly. Another prerequisite for cumulative research is the transfer of research findings between closely related disciplines. do not achieve a consistent transfer from empirical to conceptual research and vice versa. while the areas of organization science and MIS are more interested in conceptual approaches. In general. except to some extent the area of accounting. The diagram does not lay out the entire scope of interdisciplinary research. Similarly. 8. Their contributions are thus interesting with regard to technology-based countermeasures against information overload. It facilitates an examination of the interdisciplinary status of information overload research. the MIS research is concentrated on conceptual studies and there is an obvious missing link between conceptual and empirical studies. The article refers to conceptual papers as well as to empirical findings from other areas outside the MIS domain. however. which is true for accounting and marketing. This important issue is further explored in the next section. One is that the transfer between empirical and conceptual studies can be improved and should be intensified in future research. Most of the empirical research that has been conducted within the aforementioned disciplines is done in experimental settings and hence does not rely on authentic management contexts.340 M. Consequently. From the analysis of the different time lines several conclusions can be drawn. This. some research areas focus more on empirical studies and lack conceptual research. which combines both a literature review and a survey. Cross-referencing among major information overload studies. Aside from this exception.

is that conducting interdisciplinary research increases the degree of information (over)load for the researchers themselves (Bawden. military studies. future studies should draw more extensively on existing research in other contexts (Akin. They may reduce the potential overload for the individual researcher. 2003) if the individual disciplines are aware of their relative strengths and weaknesses regarding a particular research topic. accounting. 9). several directions for future research can be envisioned. and the organization. we discuss some of the limitations of our approach and we highlight implications of our analysis for future research on information overload. Such interdisciplinary approaches to the study of overload may. The limitations of this review article relate to its methodology and scope. Editors may also occasionally ask reviewers from other disciplines to evaluate submitted articles so that they can provide suggestions from other fields. Our review shows that information overload has mainly been studied via experiments with the exception of a few studies that used surveys. A longitudinal approach could for example be used to examine the effects of prolonged overload on an organization and on the processing capacity of its employees. 1997). and communication behavior. click-through analysis. case studies. A bibliometric approach could have revealed more detailed results regarding the impact of certain overload contributions. Our focus. has been on central disciplines of business-related research. it may have overlooked some of the organizational parameters and their role in increasing or decreasing information overload. however. In or- der to keep up with the developments in their field. require research projects based on interdisciplinary teams that combine the talents of (for example) MIS. and— we suspect—for the lack of transfer among empirical and conceptual studies. inductive one with a focus on surfacing the major categories in the overload discourse. They can inform researchers about related and relevant findings that have been excluded from the researcher’s focus area. Another approach could be to create dedicated interdisciplinary journals that encourage contributions that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries (such as The Information Society). One. Library studies. we need to employ alternative research methods that can be used to study the phenomenon. has been to provide a broad overview of the main discourse elements in four business-related fields. and a hypothesis-based method would have led to a greater focus in the article. by contrast. In terms of scope. for example. The advantage of MIS studies on information overload. researchers have to specialize and limit their research scope. As shown in our review article. The reasons why such interdisciplinary research teams are not more common are manifold and include existing research habits. As we have noted at various points in this article. the group. action research. In terms of methodology. Because of this dominant focus on experiments. 2001. Organization science can provide insightful suggestions on this score (such as the effect of decentralization on the amount of information that needs to be communicated and processed) leading to more realistic information technology (IT) solutions. . for example. and entertainment are other domains that could have been included in the review. CONCLUSIONS In conclusion. and formal modeling methods. we suggest that other research methods should be employed in order to triangulate prior findings. regarding the effects of e-mail load and e-mail policies on worker productivity. Clearly. document analysis. and longitudinal studies. such as cognitive science or psychology. however. However. These inductive methods can then lead to more informed hypotheses and refined experiments. as he or she can focus on his or her area of expertise while incorporating insights from other areas through other team members. and institutional barriers. in turn. This push toward interdisciplinarity does not have to lead to an identity crisis of a discipline such as MIS (Benbasat & Zmud. pedagogy. These insights can be combined and operationalized in empirical investigations. p. Here editors and reviewers have a vital role to play. qualitative interviews.THE CONCEPT OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD: REVIEW 341 not show whether authors integrate perspectives of other research disciplines. all of which capture more of the contextual side of the overload problem than experiments. as well as communication and terminology problems. On the other hand. decision quality. it is clear that the four fields we reviewed are not the only areas where information overload is a major concern. Such methods could include ethnographies. the overload problem calls for interdisciplinary approaches as many of the open research questions in this field cross traditional disciplinary boundaries (from understanding individual coping behavior to designing organizational countermeasures). This. assumptions and methods. is their focus on solutions and on the effects of new information technology on the individual. the organizational point of view may lack insights on the individual’s reactions to such changes. One of the reasons for this. is where the experimental studies of accounting and marketing can provide helpful findings and methodologies. we need to examine ways of increasing the amount of cross-fertilization in information overload research. each one of the four domains has its advantages and drawbacks for the study of information overload. and organization science scholars. truly interdisciplinary approaches are not very common in information overload research. Two. Based on the reviewed literature in these four fields. Our aim. Nevertheless. the approach we have chosen is a qualitative.

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