Masters Theses


"An interruption is a randomly occurring, discrete event that breaks continuity of cognitive focuses on a primary task and typically requires immediate attention and insists on action. "White collar interruptions" are those that affect knowledge workers in professional, managerial, or administrative positions. Interruptions are often a common occurrence in the white collar workplace.

The aim of this thesis is to investigate the effect of timing of an interruption on the overall performance of white collar workers. This study also analyzes the interruption sources (i.e. externally and internally generated) along with effect of different types of interruptions on both demanding and non-demanding tasks. The data analyzed comes from time logs of daily work activities in white collar jobs and surveys. A total of 21 subjects participated in this study. The participants in the study vary in years of work experience, location, and occupation. Findings show that interruptions have a negative impact on the performance of the worker when they occur at the middle or end of the current/primary task. In addition results show that at although most of the interruptions were externally generated, internally generated interruptions were also common (around 22% of the total interruptions). The results show that most of demanding tasks that were interrupted had a negative impact on the overall performance. Suggestions for reducing the impact of white collar interruptions are also discussed"--Abstract, page iv.


Murray, Susan L.

Committee Member(s)

Daughton, William
Cudney, Elizabeth A.


Engineering Management and Systems Engineering

Degree Name

M.S. in Engineering Management


Missouri University of Science and Technology

Publication Date

Spring 2012


viii, 58 pages

Note about bibliography

Includes bibliographical references.


© 2012 Zafar Akhil Khan, All rights reserved.

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

File Type




Subject Headings

Interruption (Psychology)
White collar workers

Thesis Number

T 9968

Print OCLC #


Electronic OCLC #