Expressions of Dissent in Email: Qualitative Insights Into Uses and Meanings of Organizational Dissent

Hastings, Sally O.; Payne, Holly J.
July 2013
Journal of Business Communication;Jul2013, Vol. 50 Issue 3, p309
Academic Journal
This study explores the role of email in organizational dissent expression and employees’ perceptions of the rules for using this medium. Twenty-one interviews were conducted with employees who commonly used email in their job to learn about some of the ways email was seen as playing a role in organizational dissent by those who commonly use the technology. Thematic analysis of data produced two rules employees cited for email usage: be careful what is committed to writing (because of loss of message control and fear of being monitored) and maintain an appropriate, professional communication style (free of emotion, sent only to the appropriate people, and used for topics not needing face-to-face interaction). Three additional strategic roles of email in organizational dissent include emails as a means of promoting strategic self-presentation; email as a means of inviting dissent; and email as a means of documenting/archiving potentially problematic interactions. The implications of this study for existing and future studies of dissent are explored.


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