Electronic Mail as a Medium for Rich Communication: An Empirical Investigation Using Hermeneutic Interpretation

In stock

This study provides an account of how richness occurs in communication that uses electronic mail. In examining actual e-mail exchanged among managers in a corporation, the study interprets the managerial use of the communication medium of electronic mail as the users themselves understand and experience it. Employing the research approach of interpretivism in general and hermeneutics in particular, the study finds that richness or leanness is not an inherent property of the electronic-mail medium, but an emergent property of the interaction of the electronic-mail medium with its organizational context, where the interaction is described in terms of distanciation, autonomization, social construction, appropriation, and enactment. Conclusions and recommendations are that managers who receive e-mail are not passive recipients of data, but active producers of meaning; that the best or just an appropriate communication medium is not determined through an individual manager’s exercise of rational decision making, but emerges as best or appropriate over time, over the course of the medium’s interactions with many users; that systems professionals need to treat the managerial user of an e-mail system not merely as a client of information services, but also as a processor or co-processor to be integrated into the system design; and that information systems researchers need to dedicate attention to the actual processes by which the users of communication medium come to understand themselves, their own use of the medium, and their organizational context.
Additional Details
Author Allen S. Lee
Year 1994
Volume 18
Issue 2
Keywords Information richness, case study, hermeneutics, positivist perspective, interpretivist perspective, organizational communication, electronic mail, IS research methodologies
Page Numbers 143-157
Copyright © 2023 MISQ. All rights reserved.