Media Symbolism, Media Richness, and Media Choice in Organizations: A Symbolic Interactionist Perspective

Linda K. Trevino, Robert H. Lengel, Richard L. Daft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

516 Scopus citations

Abstract

Symbolic interactionism is presented as a theoretical approach for understanding media choice processes during managerial communications. In an exploratory study, 65 managers from 11 organizations were interviewed about communication incidents involving face-to-face, telephone, electronic mail, and written media. Managers were asked the reasons they chose the particular medium. A content analysis of the reasons suggests that three factors influenced managers' media choices: (a) ambiguity of the message content and richness of the communication medium, (b) symbolic cues provided by the medium, and (c) situational determinants such as time and distance. The findings also indicated the diversity of media use in management communications, with face-to-face selected primarily for content and symbolic reasons, whereas telephone and electronic mail typically were chosen because of situational constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)553-574
Number of pages22
JournalCommunication Research
Volume14
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1987

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language

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