E-Mail Escalation: Dispute Exacerbating Elements of Electronic Communication
39 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2002
Much has been written about the effects of electronic communication but few researchers have explored how the structural properties of e-mail impact the process of conflict management. In this paper, we examine whether the structural features of e-mail make it more likely that disputes will escalate when people communicate electronically compared to when they communicate face-to-face or via the telephone. Building upon Rubin, Pruitt, and Kim's (1994) conflict escalation model, we propose new conceptual framework that articulates: (1) the structural properties of e-mail communication, (2) the impact of these properties on conflict process effects, and (3) how process effects, in turn, set into motion the components of conflict escalation. Propositions identify the nature of relationships among process effects and conflict escalation. Our conceptual framework is designed to be the basis for future empirical research as well as a prescriptive guide regarding how one can avoid conflict escalation when communicating via e-mail.
Keywords: conflict, e-mail, escalation, CMC, computers
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