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RELATIONSHIPS OF JOB CATEGORIES AND ORGANIZATIONAL LEVELS TO USE OF COMMUNICATION CHANNELS, INCLUDING ELECTRONIC MAIL: A META‐ANALYSIS AND EXTENSION*

Ronald E. Rice and Douglas E. Shook

Journal of Management Studies, 1990, vol. 27, issue 2, 195-229

Abstract: This study tests hypotheses derived from information processing theory concerning relationships between individuals' job category, organizational level, and levels and patterns of media usage. Media studied include face‐to‐face, meetings, memos/letters, telephone and electronic mail. In the meta‐analysis of over 40 studies, usage of different media was significantly different for managers/executives versus others, and was highly correlated with organizational level. In the individual‐level analyses of four organizations, the majority of respondents were classified into their actual job categories, and according to distances between organizational levels, by a discriminant function involving only relative extent of media use, especially participation in meetings. Contrary to information richness theory, upper‐level respondents (managers) did not necessarily use electronic mail less than did lower‐level respondents (clerical workers). The article concludes by discussing implications for theories of organizational media use and implementation of electronic mail systems.

Date: 1990
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