Alternative work arrangements: The effects of distance and media use on the supervisor-subordinate relationship
Dipboye, Robert L.
Doctor of Philosophy
With the introduction of advanced information technologies, organizations are able to work in many new arrangements which impact the way groups and individuals interact. This research examined the effects of working at a distance on the quality and quantity of communication, as well as LMX quality between a supervisor and subordinate. The impacts of using advanced information technologies to manage a distance situation were also investigated, and factors leading to choice of a particular communication mode were defined. The results suggest that neither the quality nor quantity of communication between a supervisor and employee is related to the distance between the two. The LMX quality of the pair is not related to distance either. However, while the communication seems to be the same for distance and non-distance workers, employees in non-traditional distance jobs feel as if they are more isolated and communicate less with their supervisors. These findings suggest that employees in non-traditional distance jobs may require more communication with their supervisors than those in other work scenarios. In addition, the results imply that advanced communication technologies can play a significant role in managing distance work. The overall media richness of the technology used by a pair to communicate moderates the effects of distance on LMX quality for non-traditional distance workers. In examining how individuals make choices concerning technology use, the results support suggestions put forth by the Social Information Processing Model (Fulk, Steinfield, Schmitz, & Power, 1987) and the Critical Mass Theory (Markus, 1987) and support generalization of these models to technologies other than electronic mail. In addition, the results reinforce ideas put forth by Daft and his colleagues (Daft et. al, 1987) concerning the match between the appropriate technology and a specific task. Overall, these two factors are very important in determining technology use. The results of this study also suggest that electronic mail has been integrated into corporate cultures to a great degree and seems to be a preferred method of communication. In contrast, very little use is currently being made of more advanced communication technologies such as computer conferencing and video conferencing.
Industrial psychology; Social psychology; Information science