Towards E-mail Prevalence in Media Repertoires: Evidence and Explanations for Knowledge Workers of a Public Organization

  • François de Corbière
  • François-Charles Wolff
  • Sophie Bretesché
  • Bénédicte Geffroy
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Business Information Processing book series (LNBIP, volume 129)


E-mail is and remains widely used by knowledge workers in organizations. The objective of this paper is twofold. On the one hand, it aims at verifying e-mail is the most used medium by knowledge workers within their communication media repertoires. On the other hand, we try to understand which factors influence e-mail use. A public organization was selected to realize an in-depth case study with both quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative analysis shows that e-mail is the preferred medium of knowledge workers to exchange documents and information. Moreover, individual characteristics poorly explain media use, and in particular e-mail use. Qualitative analysis of interviews with senior executives proposes organizational explanations of e-mail prevalence in this organization. Indeed in a moving, fuzzy and political organization, e-mail is preferred for several reasons that are advanced in this paper.


media repertoires e-mail use individual factors organizational context case study 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Benbasat, I., Goldstein, D.K., Mead, M.: The Case Research Strategy in Studies of Information Systems. MIS Quarterly 11(3), 369–386 (1987)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boukef, N., Kalika, M.: New lenses to investigate media use: The layering process perspective. In: ECIS 2009 Proceedings, Paper 184 (2009)Google Scholar
  3. Carlson, J.R., Zmud, R.W.: Channel expansion theory and the experiental nature of media richeness perceptions. Academy of Management Journal 42(1), 153–170 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Culnan, M.J., Markus, M.L.: Information technologies. In: Krone, K.J., Jablin, F.M., Putman, L.L. (eds.) Handbook of Organizational Communication. Sage Publications (1987)Google Scholar
  5. Daft, R.L., Lengel, R.H.: Organizational information requirements, media richness and structural design. Management Science 32, 554–571 (1986)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Davenport, T.H.: Thinking for a living: How to get better performance and results from knowledge workers. Harvard Business School Press, Boston (2005)Google Scholar
  7. Dennis, A.R., Fuller, R.M., Valacich, J.S.: Media, Tasks, and communication processes: a theory of media synchronicity. MIS Quarterly 32(3), 575–600 (2008)Google Scholar
  8. Ducheneaut, N., Watts, L.A.: In search of coherence: a review of email research. Human-Computer Interaction 20(1&2), 11–48 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Eisenhardt, K.M.: Building theories from case study research. Academy of Management Review 14(4), 532–550 (1989)Google Scholar
  10. Huang, E., Lin, S.: Do Knowledge Workers use e-mail wisely? Journal of Computer Information System 50(1), 65–73 (2009)Google Scholar
  11. Isaac, H., Kalika, M., Boukef Charki, N.: An empirical investigation of e-mail use versus face-to-face meetings: Integrating the Napoleon effect perspective. Communications of the Association for Information Systems (22), 501–514 (2008)Google Scholar
  12. Jones, Q., Ravid, G., Rafaeli, S.: Information Overload and the Message Dynamics of Online Interaction Spaces: A Theoretical Model and Empirical Exploration. Information Systems Research 15(2), 194–210 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lee, A.S.: Electronic mail as a medium for rich communication: An empirical investigation using hermeneutic interpretation. MIS Quarterly 18(2), 143–157 (1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lee, C.S., Watson-Manheim, M.B., Ramaprasad, A.: Exploring the relationship between communication risk perception and communication portfolio. IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication 50(2), 130–146 (2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lowry, P., Cao, J., Everard, A.: Privacy Concerns Versus Desire for Interpersonal Awareness in Driving the Use of Self-Disclosure Technologies: The Case of Instant Messaging in Two Cultures. Journal of Management Information Systems 27(4), 163–200 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Markus, M.L.: Electronic Mail as the medium of managerial choice. Organization Science 5(5), 502–527 (1994)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Massey, A.P., Montoya-Weiss, M.M.: Unravelling the temporal fabric of knowledge conversation: A model of media selection and use. MIS Quarterly 30(1), 99–114 (2006)Google Scholar
  18. Miles, M.B., Huberman, A.M.: Qualitative data analyses. Sage Publications (1994)Google Scholar
  19. Shannon, C., Weaver, W.: The Mathematical Theory of Communication. Univ. of Illinois Press (1949)Google Scholar
  20. Straub, D., Karahanna, E.: Knowledge worker communications and recipient availability: toward a task closure explanation of media choice. Organization Science 9(2), 160–175 (1998)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Suh, A., Shin, K.S., Ahuja, M., Kim, M.S.: The Influence of Virtuality on Social Networks Within and Across Work Groups: A Multilevel Approach. Journal of Management Information Systems 28(1), 381–386 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Te’eni, D.: Review: A cognitive–affective model of organizational communication for designing IT. MIS Quarterly 25(2), 251–321 (2001)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Van den Hooff, B., Groot, J., de Jonge, S.: Situational influences on the use of communication technologies: A meta analysis and exploratory study. Journal of Business Communication 41(2), 4–27 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Watson-Manheim, M.B., Bélanger, F.: Communication repertoires: Dealing with the multiplicity of media choices. MIS Quarterly 31(2), 267–293 (2007)Google Scholar
  25. Weber, R.: The Grim Reaper: The Curse of e-mail. MIS Quarterly 28(3), 3–14 (2004)Google Scholar
  26. Yin, R.K.: Case Study Research: Design and Methods, 4th edn. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks (2009)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • François de Corbière
    • 1
  • François-Charles Wolff
    • 2
  • Sophie Bretesché
    • 1
  • Bénédicte Geffroy
    • 1
  1. 1.Ecole des Mines de Nantes, LEMNANantesFrance
  2. 2.IEMN-IAE, LEMNANantesFrance

Personalised recommendations