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ABSTRACT

This study tests hypotheses derived from information processing theory concerning relationships between individuals' job category, organizational level, and levels and patterns of media usage. Media studied include face-to-face, meetings, memos/letters, telephone and electronic mail. In the meta-analysis of over 40 studies, usage of different media was significantly different for managers/executives versus others, and was highly correlated with organizational level. In the individual-level analyses of four organizations, the majority of respondents were classified into their actual job categories, and according to distances between organizational levels, by a discriminant function involving only relative extent of media use, especially participation in meetings. Contrary to information richness theory, upper-level respondents (managers) did not necessarily use electronic mail less than did lower-level respondents (clerical workers). The article concludes by discussing implications for theories of organizational media use and implementation of electronic mail systems.