Electronic Mail and Organizational Knowledge: Media use in a Global Corporation
CARNEGIE-MELLON UNIV PITTSBURGH PA DEPT OF COMPUTER SCIENCE
Pagination or Media Count:
Several attributes of communication media influence the costs of their use and utility, and these in turn have the potential to influence their patterns of use and organizational consequences. The goal of this paper is to examine some of these media attributes and their consequences in a large international firm. The data come from a survey of 973 employees of a multi- national corporation. They show that the distinguishing attributes of different media are not dominant people whose jobs require substantial communication are likely to communicate heavily using all media available to them. The best predictor of which medium is used is the extent to which the medium can put people into contact with their important communication partners. When the job is the unit of analysis, the data from this survey do not support the media richness hypothesis - that use is determined by the fit between the richness of a medium and the degree to which people have complex, ambiguous, or social jobs. Yet when one takes a single conversation as a unit of analysis, the data show that media differing in interactivity and expressiveness are valuable for different tasks. Employees who use electronic mail extensively are better informed about their company and more committed to its managements goals. One reason for their superior knowledge about the organization seems to be that electronic mail promotes information spillover from a focal recipient to others less directly interested in a message, without subjecting these marginal parties to the burdens of interruption and information overload.
- Non-Radio Communications