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Original Research: Project Management within the Information Systems Discipline

Email communication in project management: A bane or a blessing?

Marius C. Smit, Taryn J. Bond-Barnard, Herman Steyn, Inger Fabris-Rotelli

SA Journal of Information Management; Vol 19, No 1 (2017), 10 pages. doi: 10.4102/sajim.v19i1.826

Submitted: 15 December 2016
Published:  11 August 2017


Background: Project success used to be measured solely in terms of efficiency metrics such as scope, cost and time; however, there are proposals that more attention should be paid to process-related performance factors such as communication. The advent of email has significantly impacted the way the world communicates.

Objectives: This study investigates the preference of email communication relative to other communication mediums in project environments and the effect of email communication on feelings of stress and overload in the workplace.

Method: A survey with 430 responses was conducted to determine the communication preferences of project practitioners in a typical project. The average rank and frequency response methods were used to analyse the data.

Results: The findings indicate that the communication preferences of project practitioners still support the media richness theory and that face-to-face communication is the preferred communication medium in most situations. Despite email being disruptive and a cause of stress, the respondents did not indicate being overloaded because of email.

Conclusion: Even though there has been a dramatic shift towards email and electronic communication in projects, face-to-face communication is still the most preferred communication type for most situations. Furthermore, email is perceived as an effective tool to delegate, can be used to build and develop relationships and trust, and is an efficient and effective tool that contributes to project communication success.

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Author affiliations

Marius C. Smit, Department of Engineering and Technology Management, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Taryn J. Bond-Barnard, Department of Engineering and Technology Management, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Herman Steyn, Department of Engineering and Technology Management, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Inger Fabris-Rotelli, Department of Statistics, University of Pretoria, South Africa


email; communication; project management


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ISSN: 2078-1865 (print) | ISSN: 1560-683X (online)

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