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Understanding Meaningful Work in the Context of Technostress, COVID-19, Frustration and Corporate Social Responsibility

COVID-19 and digitalization represent important sources of many employees’ frustrations. In this article, we address the question of how employees can achieve meaningful work in such a challenging and frustrating context. Specifically, we investigate whether employees’ negative experiences related to technology use—that is, techno-invasion—leads to frustration and in turn reduces employee perceptions of meaningful work. In addition, we examine corporate social responsibility as a potential remedy that could mitigate these negative effects. The results of our four-wave longitudinal study of 198 working professionals collected during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic did not find support for a proposed negative direct effect of techno-invasion on meaningful work. However, we did find support that perceived corporate social responsibility moderates the indirect relationship between techno-invasion and meaningful work, mediated by frustration: for low levels of corporate social responsibility, techno-invasion results in higher levels of frustration, in turn reducing meaningful work. High levels of corporate social responsibility buffer this negative indirect effect. Implications for research and practice dealing with digitalization, meaningful work, and corporate social responsibility are discussed.