University of Cincinnati Lindner College of Business

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Rethinking Media Synchronicity Theory: Examining the Cooperative Assumption

Author(s): Jaime Windeler, Andrew Harrison

Status: Published
Year: 2018
Publication Name: Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences, Page Number(s): 1-10


Much of information systems (IS) literature assumes team members have completely aligned goals. In practice, people interpret goals to suit personal agendas, even when they are collaborating. This motivates our examination of the cooperative assumption in Media Synchronicity Theory (MST)—a leading IS theory of communication performance. We assess the boundaries of MST by relaxing the assumption of cooperation. Our results support MST for explaining communication and task performance in a cooperative context. However, MST was insufficient to capture how media capabilities influence performance in a non-cooperative context. Our study shows that relaxing the assumption of cooperation changes MST in profound ways—altering which media capabilities are central to the model and the very processes that underlie communication.


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