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A Study on Preferences for Using Electronic Mail in Organizational Communication in India

ABSTRACT: In today's fast-paced business environment, companies are dependant on Technology to link personnel across Cities, States and Countries too.


'E-mail' or 'Electronic Mail' is one of the recent technologies used in organizational communication to conduct business transactions with people all around the world. It is convenient, accessible and faster than other channels and hence considered as the "Life-line" of any organization. Unlike the Cellular phones, E-mail facilities are not optimized among the members of the organization to communicate effectively with customers, suppliers, agents, bankers and other professional bodies.

Therefore, a study was made to find out the preferences of using E-mail in organizations in India and to know the reasons for their preferences. Among men and women the preference levels was assessed to understand the factors influencing them to choose E-mail as a channel to communicate. As result, suggestions have been recommended for the efficient use of the technology in communication.

1. INTRODUCTION: Technology enabled Business Communication is common and now many business houses are moving at e-speed and operating globally too. The explosion of information available to business has created a maze of data for professionals to manage the formal routine messages across the national borders for exporting, importing, manufacturing contracts and partnerships with foreign firms and franchising. The number of Multinational Corporations continues as well that facilitates to conduct international transactions and maintain operations several countries.

The written communications in the form of letters, memos, circulars or proposals are sent through e-mail as messages to an audience of one or thousands in a matter of a minute. The same message can also be forwarded to many individuals instantly. The following is a chart showing the communication process using E-mail as a channel to transmit information at work place between individuals. In spite of the convenience, quickness and effectiveness of the channel some individuals seemed to prefer other channels to communicate their ideas, information or responses in a formal situation. This may be due to some reasons that they do not prefer using the electronic media for their formal messages at work place.

Hence a study was conducted to find the preferences among individuals in choosing E-mail as a channel for professional communication

and various factors that influence their preferences. Further probing into the subject was done by analyzing the preference in usage of E-mail in Business Communication.

A Model of the Communication Process Person A Person B

II. OBJECTIVES: The following are the objectives of the study:
. To find out the preferences of using Electronic Mail in Organisational communication.
. To assess the level of preferences prevailing among men and women for electronic communication at work.
. To identify the reasons for varied level of preferences among the individuals.

Fifty respondents from different profession namely education, health, services, etc were chosen as sample for the study. A Questionnaire with three point scale was used as the instrument for data collection. It includes aspects like -
. Preference towards E-mail communication
. Frequency of usage
. Reasons for preference and Non-preference.
Statistical tools like Percentage analysis was used to assess the preferences of individuals and the reasons for their preference in using the technology. Using Cross Tabulation the level of preference prevailing among the genders for E-mail communication was also analyzed.

E-mail is one of the common and recent technologies used in organizations to communicate both internally and externally. However the frequency of using the electronic media tend to vary among the respondents based on their preferences. Though most (56%) of the respondents prefer to use the channel, there are still (14%) who do not prefer using this communication media.

The study also reveals the reasons for choosing the E-mail technology among the respondents. (Table 1). When further probing into the reasons for varied frequency of usage among the respondents, it was mainly due to the pros and cons of the communication technology. Access to the technology and lack of knowledge about the usage were found to be the barriers for higher frequency usage of the E-mail facility.

Table 1:
Showing the reasons for using Electronic Mail in communication.
Frequency of using the channel Reasons for their preferences
Always . Quickness
. Convenience
. Reach
. Economical
Sometimes . Availability

. Unsecured
. Inaccuracy
. Inadequacy
Never . Lack of knowledge

. Time consuming
. No consistency
. Deferred response

Due to these reasons usage pattern among the respondents vary and thereby form the factors to influence their preference levels. The electronic mailing system in an effective channel for many individuals because messages are transmitted immediately, it is convenient to send or receive information across the boundaries with efficiency of reach and also economical for brief messages that are sent urgently to the receivers around the world.

There are some individuals for using E-mail occasionally because the facilities may not be available always; no security for the information, lack of accuracy in case of long messages or forwarded messages and also sometimes the information conveyed through an email is very brief that does not fulfill the needs of sender or receiver in the process. Few of the respondents do not prefer to use the technology at work place due to the barriers like - lack of technical knowledge relating to the profound use of the E-mail channel, time consumed to complete the communication process, inconsistent messages may be found and also immediate response may not be always possible in business situations.

Both men and women are exposed to E-mail as a communication technology in their day to day professional lives. So the data was collected to find out the usage pattern of the respondents for communicating through electronic media. But the survey reveals that the preference levels are not the same. So the gender differences relating to the preference of E-mail based on the usage frequency in organizations were analyzed (Table 2) using Cross tabulation.

Table: 2 showing the Gender differences in E-mail communication.

Gender Always Sometimes Never Total
Count 17 11 3 31
% within Gender 54.8% 35.5% 9.7% 100%
% within Preference levels 60.7% 73.3% 42.9% 62.0%
Count 11 4 4 19
% within Gender 57.9% 21.1% 21.1% 100%
% within Preference levels 39.3% 26.7% 57.1% 38.0%
Count 28 15 7 50
% within Gender 56.0% 30.0% 14.0% 100%
% within Preference levels 100% 100% 100% 100%

The preference among Men and Women differ in choosing E-mail as the media to transmit official messages in work place. The frequency and the levels of preferences also vary between them creating a technological impact in formal communication. Out of 31 men, 17 of them use the facility always. 11 men use it occasionally and 3 of them never use the channel to communicate. Whereas, out of 19 women respondents, 11 of them always use Electronic media, 4 of the women do not use frequently and the remaining 4 women seem to never prefer to communicate. Email as a protocol can be used to bridge the gender gap and remove the discrimination in preference levels that hinders in preference levels that hinders the effectiveness in technology enabled communication.

V. FINDINGS & SUGGESTIONS: . The study infers that (Pie chart) among the fifty respondents, 56% of individuals are using Email always and 30% of them use the facility sometimes only. Also there are 14% of the total individuals to convey that they never choose Email to transfer information at work place.

. In today's technology-driven organizations. E-mail is an essential and effective media to manage the information and avoid communication disasters. So it can be suggested that E-mail can be maximized in organizational communication to achieve the best results with a short period. . With reference to Table: 1, the respondents prefer to communicate always through the Electronic media because of it features like Quickness, Convenience, Reach and Economical. Among them, the most commonly believed reason for always using the technology was found to be "Quickness" and "Convenience" only. It means that E-mail communication facilitates quick delivery of messages and has a better reach than other channels.

. Table: 1 also reveals that among the respondents using E-mail sometimes for their communication purposes seem to have reasons like the facility may not be always available to meet their needs, it may not have privacy for the confidential messages, sometimes not accurate in terms of time, message, etc. and even inadequate for transmitting long and detailed reports that are to be immediately delivered to distant receivers. The most commonly felt reason was found to be "Inaccuracy" which shows that Email is not suitable for such kind of messages that requires absolute accuracy and "Fax" can be used to send those messages to serve the purpose.

. There are few respondents shown in Table: 1, for never using the electronic media in communication because of the reasons like lack of technical knowledge or lack of latest uses of E-mail applications relating to their work culture, may be time consuming when they lack adequate training and experience in applications, seem to feel about consistency in the information flow and also convey that the receiver of the E-mail messages may not acknowledge or reply quickly to the sender. The major reason for not using the channel was found to be "Lack of knowledge" in E-mail applications and hence awareness can be created to those respondents to acquire the latest information on E-mail applications through programs, journals, internet, books, exhibitions, conferences etc. . From Table: 2 it can be understood that the preference of using the channel are not common between men and women. When compared to men, 21% of women are found to avoid the E-mail technology always and another 21% of them sometimes, may be due to ignorance, incredibility and also the fluency in such applications. So they can widen their knowledge with regard to technology enabled communication through constant training and updating the latest developments in office automation. . Women can optimize their E-mail communication and try to remove the gender discrimination at work place.

. Table : 2 also reveals that within the preference levels, 73.3% of men prefer to communicate through electronic mail sometimes, 42.9% never use it and 60.7% of men seem to use it always.

. Among women, the preference levels vary with men and 57.1% are found to be never using the technology, 39.3% always and 26.7% occasionally. This shows that women are influenced by many factors in choosing the communication channel than men who seem to be convenient with the technology and avail the maximum benefits from the quickest means of communication. More opportunities can be given to women to understand the best of the channel and increase their frequency of using the technology.

VI. CONCLUSION: Electronic Mail is an extremely valuable communication tool

that each day the number of email messages received and sent in an organizations increase and will probably continue to increase as more and more people get online. Perhaps, this study can help the individuals to choose the electronic channel appropriately in business communication by mastering the different uses of E-mail communication in the work place. It may be a critical skill but an essential one for achieving managerial excellence in organizational communication. The technical knowledge can often be used to facilitate both internal and external networks like coordinating meetings, building rapport with others, prompt decisions during crisis situations, conferencing with individuals of different countries at a time etc. Realizing the potent services of the channel both men and women can minimize the common errors faced in written communication and can also avoid confrontations through the electronic channel. To conclude, this study can harness the power of E-mail correspondence and show the ways to optimize E-mail applications at work. So let's meet the communication challenges through bits and bytes and strengthen the organization as a whole with technology enabled communication.

VII. REFERENCES: 1. Laurie. K. Benson, E-communication - Communicating effectively in a Digital Age, Jaico Publishing House, 2002 edition.
2. Shirley Taylor, Effective E-mail Communication, Dreamtech publication, 2001 edition.
3. Matthukutty. M. Monipally, Business Communication Strategies, Tata McGraw - Hill publishing Co. Ltd., 2001 edition.
4. Pamela Angel, Business Communication Design McGraw - Hill, 2004 edition.
5. Plung Montgomery, Professional Communication, Thomson Publications, 2004 edition.

Written By: By Dr.R.Krishnaveni & Ms. R.Thamaraiselvi Email: Ms. R. Thamaraiselvi - Faculty with more than 12 yrs of teaching management to graduates and executives. An efficient Corporate Trainer in human resource area. A free lancer to some of the leading publications in India. Pursuing Phd in the Organizational behavioural area.

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