Combinatorial media use in organizations: understanding why people use more than on medium to communicate
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This study develops a theoretically-driven model for examining how we use discrete media and media combinations in organizations. Using a multi-theoretical base, I draw from three main areas of literature: that which demonstrates the value of using media in combination, the uses of discrete media, and media-use influence theories. From there, I use the literature to develop a coding scheme that quantifies interview data. Using a sample of 66 experienced media users representing diverse industries and two countries, U.S. and Norway, the resulting 4,826 codes generated through content analysis provide the base for the analyses seen here. Persuasion and documentation predicted the use of a media combination, while entertainment predicted the use of a discrete medium. Being an interorganizational communicator predicted using media for persuasion and being a U.S. worker predicted using media for entertainment. Intraorganizational communicators use media for information reasons as do workers from Norway. Using a finer grained analysis and examining the specific x discrete media, I found that email is used for documentation while face to face (FtF) is used for persuasion. Furthermore, the Web is used most often for information reasons. An examination of the specific media combinations revealed that the Web is used most often first in a media combination and it is used for learning, competitive intelligence, and preparation reasons. It also revealed that FtF is the medium most frequently used second in a media combination and that taken together, all the media-used-second can be characterized by their availability of audio cues and their ability to connect with external resources. Finally, the use pattern of complex sequences closely resembles FtF. After discussing the limitations of this research, these findings lead me to identify five areas for future research: (a) expand our understanding of social influences in media combinations, (b) further develop our understanding of how the Web is used as a vital part of a process-oriented view of communication, (c) continue developing coding schemes that characterize uses and influences on media, (d) explore the link between overload and media combinations, and (e) link the persuasion findings here to important organizational outcomes like efficiency and effectiveness.