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The Theory Of Media Richness

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Information Technology
Wordcount: 1794 words Published: 15th May 2017

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“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in a way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.” Anthony Robbins. Electronic mail is a method of exchanging digital message from sender to receiver. Email plays an important role in business today and has become a basic necessity in any organization just like paper and ink. It is been used by many as an all-encompassing collaboration platform than a simple communications tool. According to P.K McBride (2006), World Wide Web is an ever- growing aspect of internet with billions of web pages. Workers are given unrestricted access to the Web, allowing them to manage their own research. It provide facility to copy, reply or forward messages like document and graphical files to the sender or to the third party. Effective transfer of messages and information’s within the organization and between top managers and employees is very essential for the betterment of company.

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Email is the most commonly used electronic messaging service. Smartphone which includes email as basic feature has increased accessibility of email. It influence mobile technology, email has a major impact on business, marketing, medical field and banking. The purpose of this essay is to evaluate Email as communication tool in personal and organizational level. However, this essay firstly define email and its use in organization along with different use of theories for email communications and which include

Information overload

Social cues

Media richness theory

Critical social theory

Controlling effect

From above all the theories, Media Richness Theory is the most effective for business communication as it deals with symbol carrying capacity which refers to face-to-face communication and which is a must for any organization to success and build relationships. This essay focuses on people attitude towards communications and its implementations in work place with respect to Media Richness theory. Essay explains employee’s use of email and mobile communication for their personal and organizations purpose and how Computer-Media Communications plays an important role in it. Advantages and disadvantages of the theory are specified with example of BlackBerry and Android. In the end, my own experience of use of mobile email communication is explained in relation to my personal email diary found in the appendix.

Implementation of theory and Email communication.

Communication helps coordinate and effective control resulting in clear understanding, good production and healthy climate for cooperation among the various levels. Both for personal as well as organizational use, email have become a part of our everyday lives from communicating with friends, for new job application. Most services on internet whether its social networking or professional ask for email address before using their service. According to Mullins (2010: 230), Email has some emotions woven creatively to encapsulate feelings through signs and symbols. It has many advantages like free communication between social groups and in organization which involves communication with employees, clients as well as potential customers. Email help maintain records and archive of business transaction, rechecking past information, file repository, contracts which could be recovered later. It help have a record of your clients database and act as a address books which has all the important contacts that could be conveniently retrieved anytime. The portable gadgets like mobile phones and laptops are able to send and receive emails and help manage your business even if you are travelling or in another part of the world.

The communication tool for evaluating email could be best explained by Media Richness Theory by Richard L. Daft and Robert H. Lengel. According to them it is a frame work to describe a communications medium by its ability to reproduce the information sent over it. It helps understand the impact of different communication media type on message and help reduce ambiguity of communication through proper selection of communication media. It comes from Computer -Media Communication (CMC) and is often associated with business communication by Newburry (2001). Sitkin, Sutcliffe and Barios-Choplin (1992) found data carrying capacity and symbol carrying capacity to carry information. Face-to-face communication would be characterized as rich media while modern information technology such as email could be classified as lean media.

It deals with internal communication within an organization context. The theory got upgraded to email and it was considered as a good way of communication in organization. Silverstone in the beginning of the 90s [Zhao 2005], put forward concept of Domestication of Technology Theory which deals with how technology gets integrated in people daily life and its impact on social environment where as in other hand it deals with communication in business and it is based on contingency theory and information processing theory. E.g. if a manager need to remind its employees about an upcoming meeting then which communication medium should be used to inform and send the message: face-to-face, telephone, memo or electronic mail? Such communication choice in organization varies from its level of ambiguity.

Employee can be updated and get connected to top management through emails, and can also get latest news reports and this could be obtained by effective use of this Theory. Proper training and guidance is very much essential for introducing new technology at work place for obtaining complete employee involvement in the organization. An employee can obtain many different types of mails such as personal emails, emotional mails from friends and relatives, social emails involving some event or activities, professional mails with job interviews, notifications of ads etc… Face-to-face communication medium is the richest one followed by email, telephone, memos and letters (Rice and Shook 1990).

Advantage of Media Richness Theory:

Ability to reproduce information.

Sender chooses a communication medium.

Reduces uncertainty and equivocality.

Help improve employee’s performance.

Disadvantages of Media Richness Theory:

Choice of media is done by assumption of rational decision making.

Actual use of media and social influence is not reflected.

Ignores use of symbolism in communication.

Theory is devised before the widespread use and developments of email.

Mobile users like to get their mails in their mobile devices and which launched the mobile email solution with BlackBerry. The handheld device helps receive and send mails wherever they are and help stay employee connected and could give immediate feedback as soon as possible. Another example is the Android Operating System in modern mobile system which provides users to do array of operations as it can run multiple applications at the same time, multitasking and is more fluid than other cell phones.

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Mobile email allows composing, forward and responding to emails exactly in the same way as on a personal computer. With the fast spread of mobile email, it is getting integrated in our social and work life as it has potential to impact the way employees use email and work together. Mobile email is now becoming an important tool for mobile workers for effective communication, coordination, collaboration and to handle complex situations on move hence resulting in improved relationship with customer, co-workers and supervisors.

After critically analyzing my own email for a week, I have found that the use of mobile email device for communication has some advantages as well as some disadvantages. In my survey, I have received mails from social network sites, personal mails, job vacancies and notifications. Mobile email help keep’s me connected with the world and help to be updated; I could check my mails on a move and even reply to some important mails. For example there are situations when I receive irrelevant mails like advertisements and junk mails and I read them thinking it’s important and hence waste my own time. When I am on move and expect some important mails to arrive and then battery dies or I misplace my phone then it can give rise to major problem. Devices could be easily broken or misplaced and could also create privacy invasion towards personal and organizational security. It makes a person so dependent towards it that people spend less time with family and friends. The one main disadvantage of mobile mail device is it has a negative health effect and which a major problem in today’s busy life.


Communication is very essential for any organization to build relationship and for its success. The use of mobile device for email is been adopted by people for personal as well as for organizational purpose. It helps receive mails even when they are on outside their homes or organization. From the critical evaluation, Media Richness Theory is the most effective theory to understand the value of mobile email devices as an effective tool for communication. This theory help organization to select appropriate communication media to communicate with its employees and to stay connected through mobile email devices and an example of such a device is BlackBerry and Android which help send and receive mails at anytime and anywhere. Mobile mailing helps keep a record of their daily activity and also maintains database which enable them to communicate with people no matter where they are. The Human Resource professionals play supportive role in achieving organisations goals by making employees and technology join together for effective result in work place.

The introduction of new technology help raise productivity of work, develop new product and services, innovative thinking and developed method of communication between colleagues and customers. Mobile communication acceptance device in an organization depends on its management and employees and how well they get mixed with technology and its usage. The devices has many advantages like instant mail alert, help stay connected while move and having peoples record and ease of communication where as the disadvantage include lack of social participation and privacy factor. The use of new technology like mobile email for communication in relation to Media Richness Theory is now reaching its heights and is been adopted by organization for its employees personal and professional use.


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