Does Email Communication Increase Participation in Organizational Decision Making? by Lucio Biggiero [University of L'Aquila]
Posted in: Research at 04/09/2008 02:47
Abstract: One of the main issues crossing the fields of organization theory, communication theory, and information technology is whether email communication does increase participation in decision making. Common sense and some case studies suggest the so-called "democratization argument": since email allows direct (non-filtered) communication between people and identity/status concealment, it enhances more freely and easy participation in decision making.
This view is especially argued by technological imperative approaches to organizational communication and media studies, which more or less explicitly assume that, given certain technological potentialities, sooner or later users will full explore and exploit them.
Whether this is true or not, the technical trait of keeping trace induced some authors to point at the risk of favouring control and surveillance over workers' behaviour. In order to empirically investigate the democratization and the (dark) side effect of email communication, propensity and forms of email participation in organizational decision making have been studied confronting three types of communicators: those more oriented to use traditional media, computer-mediated (email and internet) media, and finally those who use a mix of both types of communication means.
Based on 600 respondents to an online questionnaire supplied to the employees of a multinational corporation, the present research allows testing the democratization argument. Moreover, since respondents are distributed over three subsidiaries (I, NL, and UK), it is possible to understand whether nationality matters.