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Unintended Consequences of Instant Messaging in the Workplace: An Empirical Study

Unintended Consequences of Instant Messaging in the Workplace: An Empirical Study
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Author(s): Jesus Carmona (Texas A&M International University, USA)
Copyright: 2006
Pages: 3
Source title: Emerging Trends and Challenges in Information Technology Management
Source Editor(s): Mehdi Khosrow-Pour, D.B.A. (Information Resources Management Association, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-019-6.ch230
ISBN13: 9781616921286
EISBN13: 9781466665361


Collaboration in the workplace has changed a great deal with the advent of technology; e-mail, instant messaging (IM), chat rooms, and teleconferencing are just some examples of such technological advances. The ways in which we use these technologies depend on what the user whishes to accomplish; IM, for example, can be used to convey informal synchronous messages to coworkers, which in turn, can bring unintended consequences like interruptions and presence awareness. The purpose of this research paper is to study the impact that IM in the workplace will have on interruptions and presence awareness; secondary data obtained from PEW Internet and American Life surveys was used to conduct a statistical analysis using structural equation modeling. The results of this study confirmed that IM had a significant effect on interruptions and presence awareness whereas presence awareness had no effect on interruptions. Technology has changed the way in which we communicate in the workplace; new and improved computer-mediated communication tools are available for our use, and media choice has become an issue (Cameron, 2005), nowadays it is hard to decide what communication tool to use, or how we convey messages when using certain media (Trevino, et al, 1990). Instant Messaging (IM) is a computer-mediated tool that is used to send and receive text messages in a synchronous manner, using the Internet. IM has become a common channel of communication between family members and friends (Goldsborough, 2001); almost 53 million adult Americans trade instant messages and 24% of them swap IM more frequently than email (Shiu and Lenhart, 2004). After seeing the usefulness of this tool, managers are beginning to introduce it in the workplace as an informal way of communication; at the same time, IM seems to bring unintended (not necessarily bad) consequences like presence awareness (Cameron, 2005), and interruptions (Rennecker and Godwin, 2005).

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