Does technology divide or unite generations?: Testing media richness and communication climate effects on communication satisfaction in the Indian workplace

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Source of Publication

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

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© 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited. Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the communication preferenc;s reported by different generations in the Indian workplace, as well as investigating the relationship between communication preferences, communication climate and employee satisfaction with the organizational communication. The authors therefore examined managers’ preferences for different communication media across two different generations, as well as their perceptions of the communication climate and their overall satisfaction with their organizations’ communication. Design/methodology/approach: The authors tested an interaction model comprising ease of use of communication medium, communication climate and communication satisfaction, on 822 Indian managers belonging to two different generations. In doing so, they used a survey to investigate managers’ preferences for different media, their perceptions of the communication climate within their organizations and their overall satisfaction with the communication that takes place. The authors drew on studies on media richness theory, on communication climate and on inter-generational differences. Findings: The findings show that while communication satisfaction in general was low across both generations, Generation Y employees recorded the lowest levels of satisfaction. In addition, a manager’s generational category does not moderate the relationship between media use and communication satisfaction, but it does moderate the relationship between communication climate and communication satisfaction. In terms of the ease of use associated with different types of media, the differences between the generations were largely stereotyped, although moderate media (VC, chat, voicemail) were preferred over rich media (face-to-face meetings) or lean media (fax, memos and emails), by all managers. Practical implications: Senior management in India must shed their bureaucratic mind-set to promote openness in the communication choices that are considered acceptable, leading to more effective decision-making and problem solving. Mobile phones, chats, wikis, podcasts, video-conferencing and email should be officially embedded into the organizational communication culture to facilitate state-of-the-art knowledge management practices. More multi-generational teams and mentorship programmes need to be implemented to make a wider variety of media acceptable to all managers, which will in turn improve communication satisfaction. Originality/value: This study is original in that it unpacks the influence of media use and communication satisfaction across Gen X and Gen Y, who will be moving into more senior positions in India in the next decade. In doing so, it provides a snapshot of organizational communication in an important emerging economy and provides recommendations as to how organizational communication may be made more effective in the future. Organizations in India and elsewhere can improve their organizational communication by enhancing transparency and by making a wider variety of media accessible, and therefore acceptable, to different generations of managers.




Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.





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Communication satisfaction, Ease of use of communication media, Inter-generational differences, Organizational communication climate, Structural equation modelling

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Indexed in Scopus


Open Access