Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Susan Pendleton


The focus of this thesis is e-mail as a tool for the dissemination of information. Literature on e-mail has suggested that e-mail might influence and change communication patterns such as socialization, interdependence, and attention focus. Specifically, this study examined hierarchical similarities/differences in e-mail transmission and reception and user’s perceptions within an academic institution. Variables studied for their effect include the number of messages sent and received, gender, attention a message is given, message subject matter, message origination, whether participants felt that technology inhibits or enhances communication and whether there were differences between hierarchical levels. Among results were the following. For all messages and internal messages (examined independently) sent and received, as the receiver’s status decreased, the sender’s status generally increased — the same pattern as seen with traditional organizational messages. Differences were found in the attention a message is given in that more messages were read entirely from superiors, peers, and subordinates than from those whose status could not be identified. Messages received from those whose status could not be identified were more often scanned. One of the few gender differences found was that females received significantly more messages from females than did males. Additionally, participants who use e-mail, in general felt that e-mail was perceived as enhancing communication.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Communication and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright 1997, Alicia Caldwell