Title page for ETD etd-07212006-152600

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Jordaan, Leonore Leatishia Truter
URN etd-07212006-152600
Document Title Internal communication media selection in the University of Pretoria with emphasis on computer-mediated communication media
Degree MA (Communication Management)
Department Economic and Management Sciences
Advisor Name Title
Prof R S Rensburg
  • intranets (computer networks)
  • communication in personnel management.
Date 2001-04-01
Availability unrestricted
The selection of one medium of communication above another may appear to be a matter of personal choice, and of little research consequence. Yet, insight into media preference when it comes to receiving internal communication messages may mean the difference between effective communication and lack of communication within an organisation.

A number of theoretical perspectives have been advanced to explain communication media choice decisions. For the purpose of this study, the Media Richness Theory (MRT) and the Symbolic Interactionism Theory (SIT) were used to explore media selection at the University of Pretoria (UP). The MRT is concerned with identifying the most appropriate medium in terms of "medium richness" for communication situations characterised by equivocality and uncertainty. The SIT concurs with the MRT, but goes further and predicts that situational determinants such as distance and time and the symbolic cues provided by a medium, also influence media choice.

The hypotheses were tested with data obtained from 174 employees (academic and non-academic) based on the main campus of the UP. A mail questionnaire was used to gather data. The questionnaire was developed to test MRT and SIT predictions with regard to media selection.

The gathered data were analysed to reach general findings from the descriptive statistics and to test the hypotheses by using inferential statistics such as (a) chi-square tests, (b) analysis of variance (ANOVA) and (c) factor analysis. Research findings indicate that employees at UP tend to select face-to-face media for highly equivocal messages and written media for clear, objective messages. The results also indicate that where situational constraints such as distance and time pressure are present, people tend to choose "leaner" media, such as telephone and computer-mediated communication media, irrespective of the contents of the message. When symbolic meaning is intended, however, such as a desire for teamwork and trust, a "rich" medium is preferred. These findings are in support of MRT and SIT predictions.

The results from the factor analysis indicate that organisational culture in UP plays a more significant role than the communicator or recipient where media selection is concerned.

Based on this research, it can be accepted (at a 95% confidence level) that:

  • media selection is determined by message equivocality, message uncertainty, situational constraints and symbolic meaning;
  • there is no significant dependence between years service and media selection;
  • there is a tendency to use computer-mediated communication media as much as or more than conventional media where messages of a non¬personal nature are concerned; this is, however not true for messages of a personal nature.r

In conclusion, although the findings of this study are only of an exploratory nature and based on a small section of the employees at UP, the results indicate the existence of a significant relationship between message contents, situational factors and media selection. Thus, effective internal communication may mean selecting the right medium to fit message contents and the situation in order to achieve mutual understanding and success.

© 2000 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Jordaan, LLT 2000, Internal communication media selection in the University of Pretoria with the emphasis on computer-mediated-communication media, MA dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-07212006-152600/ >


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