Author(s), Title and Publication:

Boren, J. P., & Veksler, A. E. (2014). Communicatively restricted organizational stress (CROS) 1: Conceptualization and overview. Management Communication Quarterly, 29(1), 28 – 55.


Work-related stress can be detrimental to both organizations and employees. Previous theories about work stress have indicated that (1) social support from organization and co-workers and (2) the balance between employee stress and the potential for individualized award can stabilize the stress process. Taking a different perspective, this article conceptualized a new applied ‘meta-stressor” – communicatively restricted organizational stress (CROS), which can potentially escalate employees’ stress process. CROS is defined as an employee’s perceived inability to communicate about a particular stressor, which leads to the exacerbation of negative outcomes related to the appraisal of that stressor. It functions by (1) decreasing an employee’s ability to directly address the stressor, (2) depriving an employee of his/her confidence in seeking social support, (3) decreasing an employee’s coping ability, and (4) frustrating an employee’s ability to convert perceived support into received support. The study proposed the conceptual model that social support mediates the effect of stressor appraisal on outcomes; CROS moderates both paths from stressor appraisal and social support to outcomes.

Through an online open-ended survey of 354 U.S. residents, the study supported that an organizational member who reported high CROS will experience negative outcomes, regardless of the social support available from the organization and co-workers. Also, regardless of the severity of the stressor, CROS will inevitably lead to negative outcomes.

Implications for Practitioners

Organization leaders should be aware that (1) a perceived existence of social support within the organization will not necessarily decrease employees’ stress; (2) if employees experience CROS, the restrictedness could become a stress in and of itself, thereby intensifying the potential negative effects of the original stressor; and (3) the negative outcomes of CROS may lead to a poor organizational climate, decreasing levels of organizational support, and reduced productivity. Therefore, concerning the unspeakable stressors such as mandated privacy policies in the field of national security, investigative, intelligence, military, or law enforcement organizations, managers should pay extra attention to the effect of CROS.

Location of Article

The article is available online at: (abstract free, purchase full article)

Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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