Electronic mail systems : an analysis of the use/satisfaction relationship

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This dissertation examined use of an electronic mail system (EMS) to facilitate commmunication within three organizations. Such computer-based message systems have often been implemented without rigorous evaluation amid promises of facilitating organizational communications, reducing communication frustrations, and flattening the informal heirarchy within organizations. This dissertation was a hypothesis testing field study investigating the relationship between EMS use and satisfaction with electronic mail as a system for communicating. Questionnaire data was gathered from 370 subjects in three organizations. Questions concerned user satisfaction with the electronic mail systems, user attitudes toward computer-based systems, managerial support for and use of the EMS and differences in system use at various organizational levels. In addition, this research considered the communication requirements of users, the communication patterns of users, and various efficiencies derived from the availability of the EMS. Correlational analysis was used with moderated regression techniques and significance tests used as appropriate to test the hypothesized relationships. Analysis of the data indicates a strong relationship between system use and user satisfaction. Support was not found for the moderating effects of either manager's use of the system or the availability of important communicating others on the use/satisfaction relationship. Correlates of system use included frustration with other communication means, attitudes toward computer-based systems, an increase in upward communication, and a decrease in face-to-face contact. Additional correlates of system use were perceptions of time savings, increased effectiveness of meetings, and increased travel effectiveness for those accessing the system remotely. A negative correlation was found for use of the system and time spent using the telephone and the latter was negatively related to perceptions of time savings. Managers were found to use the system significantly more than professional/technical and clerical users. Correlates of user satisfaction were perceptions of time savings efficiencies, increased meeting effectiveness, and increased travel effectiveness for users accessing the system remotely. The results obtained are discussed to provide insight into the incorporation of advanced computing technologies within the daily work habits of white-collar workers. Directions for future research are discussed.

Electronic mail systems