Communication media choices in a knowledge-work organisation: A case study on the factors hindering efficient communication

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School of Economics | Master's thesis
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Abstract Motivation for the research and objectives The study originated from the assumption, that the full advantages gained from ICT usage are yet to be achieved. It is critical to understand how efficient organisational communication and ICT impacts on the company’s overall success and productivity: the first step is to understand the current state of media usage in knowledge-work. Thus, the study aimed to clearly establish the factors hindering efficient communication and media usage in organisation. The phenomenon was approached from the individual worker’s perspective with the aid of two sub questions: what are the factors influencing on communication media choices in knowledge-work, and what is experienced as challenging in organisational communication. The research strategy and methodology This study adopted abductive case research strategy, which made it possible to examine the issue without separating it from its context. Research built on previous theories related to communication media usage and selection, as well as research on problems related to communication and knowledge-work. The case organisation was TeliaSonera: more specifically the unit Business Services Finland due to its special characteristics and requirements for seamless information flow in selling complex service solutions. Main empirical evidence was collected from 10 semi-structured interviews and supported with other evidence like intranet survey (sent to 220 employees, 113 responds) and documents in case organisation. Question and topic categories for the interviews were formed based on previous theories. In addition to case-specific material, a survey regarding media choices was sent to a large number of Finnish small and medium sized companies to establish the extent of the issues. This study formed a part of a broader research project examining the productivity and modern work. Results The results of this study indicate that employees choose communication media based on multiple different factors; it is rare, that the choice would be solely based on theoretical communication efficiency resulting from task-media fit. Challenges like information overload and interruptions are experienced in daily work. The aim was to clearly establish the factors hindering efficient communication in organisation; the factors found were classified into three categories: individual’s attitudes, motives and background; organisational coordination and management; and finally situational factors. Examining and concentrating especially on the individual- and organisation-related factors could improve communication efficiency in organisation. However the individual employee has a very restricted chance to improve on inefficient communication alone, due to the fact that the problem is primarily the one of the whole organisation. Thus organisation has a central role in influencing on communication culture, habits and skills of the workers, with the aid of training and clear instructions for media usage. When communication is efficient and media is used appropriately, it may in turn have the ability to improve decision quality of organisation.
communication medium, ICT, information overload, organisational communication, knowledge work, communication behaviour
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