Emerging Practices

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Martin’s acknowledgment that email improved message transmission and

delivery could be seen as a first level effect. But, consistent with Sproull &

Kiesler’s (1991) classification of first and second level technological effects,

and also with Muller & Gruen’s (2002) more recent ideas about users

reinventing new purposes, there were indications that at least some of the study

participants were finding different and sometimes unexpected uses for email.

Staff were Cc-ing email messages to each other as part of their normal

operational activities. However, there were also other, less overt, uses being

made of the Cc-ing function to further both personal and organisational aims.

Email messages were being copied and distributed to strategically influence the

perceptions and behaviours of others within the organisation. One strategy

concerned rather blatant attempts by individuals to manage how they were

perceived by others (i.e., impression management), while subtler forms of

pressure and even in some cases, manipulation techniques were being applied

through the Cc-ing process.

Martin innovatively used the Cc-ing function as an attempt to create a positive

picture of himself in his colleagues’ eyes. He said, “At least, they know you’re

there, that you’re interested in such and such.” He was using email as an

impression management tool in that he was consciously attempting to influence

the receiver of his message. Such an attempt can also be discerned in Edith’s

comments. She said, “you can send to somebody but you want other people to

know that you’ve done that and you can take, you can send them all.”

Staff using email in such ways to reinforce or generate positive impressions

diverges somewhat from O’Sullivan’s (2000) findings that mediated communication

channels tend to be used if a positive impression may be under threat.

Martin and Edith were not reacting to a threat but rather were proactively

attempting to create and/or confirm a positive impression. However, workrelated

relationships at Station 99 are not the same as the intimate relationships

that O’Sullivan studied.

The discovery of these “multiple layers” or second level effects at Station 99

provide support for Phillips & Eisenberg (1993) finding that employees use the

features of email strategically to realise their goals.