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Reading electronic mail at the office: Exploring how and why organizational members read information
Unformatted Document Text:  Reading electronic mail 6 From this viewpoint, a second explanation could be that messages from certain sources are more relevant to organizational members than messages from other sources. Drawing on information seeking theories (Morrison, 1993; Morrison & Vancouver, 2000; Ostroff & Kozlowski, 1992), organizational members can solicit information from immediate supervisors, managers other than their immediate supervisors, peers, and friends. Morrison and Vancouver (2000) demonstrated that organizational members seek information from different sources, based on their perceptions of those sources’ expertise and accessibility. Perceived expertise is defined as “the extent to which a source is believed to possess accurate and useful knowledge”, and perceived accessibility is defined as “the anticipated ease with which one would be able to locate and utilize a particular source” (Morrison & Vancouver, 2000, p. 124). In this light, it is plausible to assume that messages from immediate supervisors and peers are more relevant to organizational members than messages from others. Hence, email messages from those sources are supposed to be read more in their entirety and more thoroughly than email messages from other sources. However, we do not propose a specific relationship between this characteristic of an email message and the way in which the email message is read. In stead, we will explore this relationship by assuming that the way in which organizational members read email messages is associated with the sources of those email messages. Furthermore, apart from the characteristics of email messages, it is imaginable that certain organizational members read information in a different manner than other organizational members. For example, some individuals are more motivated to process information than others. Such a motivation is called the need for cognition (Cacioppo & Petty, 1982). Cacioppo and Petty (1982) define the need for cognition as “the individual’s tendency to engage in and enjoy effortful cognitive endeavors”. Individuals can range along a continuum from low in need for cognition to high in need for cognition (Cacioppo & Petty, 1982; Cacioppo, Petty, Feinstein, & Jarvis, 1996). As organizational members with a high

Authors: de Bakker, Suzanne. and Elving, Wim.
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Reading electronic mail 6
From this viewpoint, a second explanation could be that messages from certain
sources are more relevant to organizational members than messages from other sources.
Drawing on information seeking theories (Morrison, 1993; Morrison & Vancouver, 2000;
Ostroff & Kozlowski, 1992), organizational members can solicit information from immediate
supervisors, managers other than their immediate supervisors, peers, and friends. Morrison
and Vancouver (2000) demonstrated that organizational members seek information from
different sources, based on their perceptions of those sources’ expertise and accessibility.
Perceived expertise is defined as “the extent to which a source is believed to possess accurate
and useful knowledge”, and perceived accessibility is defined as “the anticipated ease with
which one would be able to locate and utilize a particular source” (Morrison & Vancouver,
2000, p. 124). In this light, it is plausible to assume that messages from immediate supervisors
and peers are more relevant to organizational members than messages from others. Hence,
email messages from those sources are supposed to be read more in their entirety and more
thoroughly than email messages from other sources. However, we do not propose a specific
relationship between this characteristic of an email message and the way in which the email
message is read. In stead, we will explore this relationship by assuming that the way in which
organizational members read email messages is associated with the sources of those email
messages. Furthermore, apart from the characteristics of email messages, it is imaginable that
certain organizational members read information in a different manner than other
organizational members. For example, some individuals are more motivated to process
information than others. Such a motivation is called the need for cognition (Cacioppo & Petty,
1982). Cacioppo and Petty (1982) define the need for cognition as “the individual’s tendency
to engage in and enjoy effortful cognitive endeavors”. Individuals can range along a
continuum from low in need for cognition to high in need for cognition (Cacioppo & Petty,
1982; Cacioppo, Petty, Feinstein, & Jarvis, 1996). As organizational members with a high


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