Receivers' reactions to dissonant use of communication technology in the workplace: effects on communication strategies and the perceived usefulness of technology
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This study examined receivers’ reactions to the dissonant use of communication technology in the workplace and how they respond to it. Results of an online questionnaire indicate communication technology misuse is viewed by organizational members (N = 114) as a routine negative side effect of media use in the workplace with dire implications for work relationships. The incidence and severity of communication technology misuse is far greater than had been perceived previously with most types of misuse eliciting a moderate to high degree of concern from media users. The concern over media misuse is further illustrated by organizational members’ admission they have a moderate to high intolerance for media misuse committed by coworkers, superiors, and subordinates. This concern is further underscored by the predominance of direct (voice) and punitive (exit) responses of media users’ when blame is attributed to their communication partner, rather than the technology used in the incident. Communication technology appears to be misused most often while communicating about routine work-related matters with coworkers using email. Out of 15 different types of communication technology misuse, using technology to avoid others and broadcasting messages to others were the most frequently experienced types of technology misuse respectively. Respondents’ written accounts of communication technology misuse most often described coworkers who intentionally and unintentionally broadcast messages to others and coworkers and superiors who made poor matches between the technology used (usually email) and the sensitivity of the message (usually negative feedback or confidential information). More than half of the respondents indicated the technology misuse they described in their story represented a pattern of behavior, rather than a single event, and was considered a moderate to high cause for concern. A key purpose of the study was to test a model of communication technology misuse. While tests of absolute model fit were nonsignificant, post hoc analyses reveal experience with the technology in the incident and relationship satisfaction with one’s communication partner are stronger predictors of perceived usefulness of technology and exit, voice, loyalty, and neglect then attributions of blame for the misuse incident. Theoretical contributions and practical implications, along with limitations of the study, are discussed in light of the results.