The poverty of media richness theory: explaining people’s choice of electronic mail vs. voice mail
Abstract(#br)How and why people choose which communication medium to use is an important issue for both behavioral researchers and software product developers. Little is yet known about how and why people in organizations choose among new media like electronic mail and voice mail, although the availability and use of new media are increasing dramatically. Media richness theory (MRT) is the most prominent, if contested, theory of media choice. It is concerned with identifying the most appropriate medium in terms of “medium richness” for communication situations characterized by equivocality and uncertainty. From this theory, we derived hypotheses about how and why individuals will choose between electronic mail and voice mail and tested them among users of both media in the corporate headquarters of a large company. The data are analysed using both quantitative and qualitative techniques. The results fail to support MRT, but they do support alternative explanations of people’s media choice behavior. While the concept of media richness is too poor to explain the richness of people’s media use behavior, our behavioral findings and explanations should prove useful to those building the next generation of integrated multimedia communication tools.
International Journal of Human - Computer Studies