Conflict Escalation: Dispute Exacerbating Elements of E-Mail Communication
37 Pages Posted: 3 Jan 2004
In this paper, we proffer new theoretical ideas regarding how the structural features of e-mail make it more likely that disputes 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 a 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, trigger conflict escalation. Propositions specify the nature of relationships among process effects and the components of conflict escalation. We also discuss how the extent of familiarity between individuals acts as a moderator of these relationships. Our conceptual framework, the dispute exacerbating model of e-mail (DEME), is designed to be a foundation for future empirical research.
Keywords: Conflict, e-mail, escalation
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