Business Research

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Introduction 2
1.0 Background to the research 2
1.1 Why this project is interesting? 2
Literature Review 3
2.0 Electronic Mail 3
2.1 Privacy 4
2.2 Security 5
3.0 Methodology 5
3.1 Questionnaires 6
Research Methods Proposed 7
References 8


This dissertation will be aimed to investigate how Schramm’s Interactive communication Model, 1954 could be applied to the use of email in workplace.

1.0 Background to the research

Define Electronic Mail (E-Mail)

“Email is an electronic form of communication. Email is used by most organisations today. This is for a number of reasons, ‘Email can eliminate phone-tag, reduce paper use and promote the free exchange of information and ideas within and between organisations” (ipc, 2000)

According to the Electronic Messaging Association in the United States (cited in Bennahum 1999:100) 8 million Americans had access to email in 1991. By May 1999, 96 million Americans were using email.

Email is now a fact of life in many workplaces where it has largely replaced written memos and much telephone and face-to-face interaction. While it is often incorrectly perceived as ephemeral, the role it has assumed very recently – and very quickly – of being an important means of workplace communication is likely to be anything but ephemeral. (Waldvogel, 2006)

1.1 Why this project is interesting?

There are a lot of books and journals about email as a source of communication in the workplace; however this project will aim to find out actually how many of them who use email in workplace are bothered about privacy and security.

I will be discussing about various communication models including

The Shannon-Weaver Mathematical Model, 1949
Berlo’s S-M-C-R, 1960 and
Schramm’s Interactive Model, 1954

The main aim of this project will be to review the appropriate literature regarding e-mail in the workplace, privacy and security issues.

To Apply Schramm’s Interactive Model, 1954 to the use of email in workplace.

To investigate how many managers in ASDA are bothered about the privacy and security of the email which they send or receive.

To investigate the preferred mode of communication in the organisations.

Literature Review

Reviewing literature is very essential in order to meet the objectives of this project.

2.0 Electronic Mail

Define Electronic Mail (E-Mail)

E-mail is an extremely powerful technology for businesses. By typing a message into your PC and sending it via the Internet you will experience a fast, cheap and effective method of communication. You can also send reports, accounts or photographs as file attachments to your message. (Scottish Enterprise, 2004).

Email is an effective means of communication for business and personal use but it also has some disadvantages.
Firstly, the advantages are;
email is effective in providing quick answers to yes and no, type questions. Email is effective in finding the right person in an organisation or company to answer your question. Email is good to make appointments for busy people.
Email can distribute information quickly to many people for the time it takes to email one person.

The disadvantages are;
Email can become time consuming for answering complicated questions and misunderstandings can arise because cultural differences in the interpretation of certain words. The telephone is much better for providing detailed answers or if you feel that the question is not absolutely clear.

Email can compromise the security of an organisation because sensitive information can be easily distributed accidentally or deliberately. Email should be entrusted to well trained and trusted staff members.
Email can become impersonal or misunderstood.

However the need to keep up with e-mails came 10th place in a league table of workplace stresses published by the Institute of Management and PPP Healthcare. Many people still feel that if they get an e-mail, they have to act upon it instantly, simply because it is an instant message. (BBC, 2000)

2.1 Privacy

Most electronic mail is notoriously UNPRIVATE. Sending an email is less secure and in many ways is more dangerous than sending your personal or business message on a postcard. Intercepting Internet email is a piece of cake for certain people. Your typical email message travels through many computers.

And at each of those computers people can gain access to your personal and business correspondence. You can make a bet that administrators (not to mention hackers) on Bulletin Board Systems, college campus systems, commercial information services, and Internet hook-up providers can read your email. Of course, most snoops will deny that they are reading your email because they want to continue doing it. Information is power. Snoops want power. (Email Privacy, n.d)

Clearly formulated policies regarding the use of email can help ensure that decisions made within the organisation which affect workers:

are well thought out, understood by all users, are consistent and fairly applied

take full account of their effect on all areas of activity

Satisfy legal requirements

Contribute to a productive relationship between the employer, the workforce and their representatives.

Workers can be more effective when uncertainties about the organisation’s intentions and any inconsistencies in management decisions are removed.
Involving workers and their representatives in the development, implementation and operation of policies is more likely to make them acceptable and successful.

It is important that organisations understand the potential for making the most of their IT systems. People need to know the opportunities that use of the Internet and e-mail offer.

By having a written policy the organisation can:
help protect itself against liability for the actions of its workers (vicarious liability), help educate system users about the legal risks that they might inadvertently take, make clear to users who they should contact about any particular aspect of the policy, notify users of any privacy expectations in their communications, prevent damage to systems, avoid or reduce unnecessary time being spent on non work related activities. (ACAS, 2006)

2.2 Security
According to Bill landreth (1989:87) “security is the process of protecting the confidentiality, integrity and the availability of information”
Every organisation considers security as very important; Organizations of all sizes have come to rely on email as a main form of communication with colleagues in their headquarters and international offices, business partners, clients and others. While email has long proven its many advantages, it also has its downsides.
Plagued by spam, malicious code, phishing scams, directory harvest DoS attacks and more, email systems require much oversight. Add to these cyber crime threats are legal issues that can arise from their misuse. Beyond a company finding itself in a serious liability situation if an employee sends out offensive email, there has been other combo threats that have cropped up. For example, recently there have been incidents where disgruntled individuals have established free web email accounts in others’ names and then have sent out offensive or even threatening notes to the victims’ associates. (SC Magazine, 2006)

Breaching the security could cause companies heavy financial loss, one of the recent example was The UK financial services regulator, the Financial Services Authority, has fined the UK’s largest building society £980,000 following the theft of an employee’s laptop. The laptop contained customer data relating to some of its 11 million account holders. (Privacy & Data Protection journal, 2007)

“Effective management of security features in PC’s should be efficient enough to ensure that emails are protected” (Landreth, 1989:89)

3.0 Methodology

According to Webster (1985), to research is to search or investigate exhaustively. It is a careful or diligent search, studious inquiry or examination especially investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts, revision of accepted theories or laws in the light of new facts or practical application of such new or revised theories or laws, it can also be the collection of information about a particular subject.

Primary research is also know as field research, which is going out and conducting research and collect data and secondary research is also known as desk research, as it traditionally involved sitting at a desk reading through lots a material.

Some general examples of secondary research could be visiting a library and reading through books, reports and newspapers and extracting the information that was relevant.

Primary research involves Qualitative research and Quantitative research

Creswell (1998) defines qualitative study as:

“Qualitative research is an inquiry process of understanding based on distinct methodological traditions of inquiry that explore a social or human problem. The researcher builds a complex, holistic picture, analyzes words, report detailed views of informants, and conducts the study in a natural setting.”

Quantitative research incorporates the statistical element, designed to quantify the extent to which a target group are aware of, think this, believe that or are inclined to behave in a certain way.

The various types of qualitative market research methodologies are summarised below.

Research Depth Interviews
a single respondent is interviewed based on various themes and topics (can be conducted either face to face or via the phone)

Because of the time constraints, this wont be possible.

.Focus Groups or Group Discussions
normally contain 8 respondents. With groups you benefit from the interaction between the different personalities. Group interviews usually involve the researcher and a specific group of people (Grix, 2004). For this project Focus group interview cannot be conducted, it is not possible to gather 7 or 8 managers at time and interview them, because they are busy and they might not be willing to spend an hour for the interview.

Research Observation
Observing a respondent in their ‘natural’ environment

I work in asda as sales assistant, most of the time my job is on the shop floor, It is very unlikely for me to observe the managers.
3.1 Questionnaires
A questionnaire is “a form of data collection in which each person is asked to respond to the same set of questions in a predetermined order” (Saunders et al., 2000)

Questionnaires are helpful in finding out what the respondents think, according to Saunders et al, 2000:

“A Questionnaire allows respondents to remain anonymous so that they can give their honest opinion without being reprimanded”

Research Methods Proposed

For this project, I will be using primary research as well as secondary research.

For primary research I will be using both Qualitative and Quantitative methods.
I will be conducting In-depth interviews with managers of ADSA and analyse it, I will also be handing out questionnaires to the Management of ASDA store.

The in-depth interview might last between 30 to 45 minutes and my questionnaire will consist of both open and closed questions I will be using BrightStat software to analyse the questionnaire.


The questionnaire will be handed out to 75 managers of ASDA within Glasgow and in-depth interview will be conducted within 10 different managers of ASDA in Glasgow.

Limitations for Research

I work in ASDA, Govan there are only 25 managers in that store, so I will have to travel to other ASDA stores within Glasgow in order to conduct the interview and distribute the questionnaires.


Bennahum, David S. 1999. Old email never dies, Wired May 1999: 1-11

Daft, R. (1998) ‘Management’ (4th edn), London, the Dryden Press.

Rooksby, E. (2002). E-Mail and Ethics: Style and Ethical Relations in Computer-mediated Communication, Routledge

Landreth, B. (1989) ‘Out of the Inner Circle’, USA, Random House

Lisa H Casilly, Clare H Draper (2002) ‘Privacy in the Workplace’

John. W. Creswell (1998). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design, Sage Publications

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2000) ‘research methods for Business Students’ (2nd edn), Harlow, Prentice Hall

Shannon, Claude E. & Warren Weaver (1949): A Mathematical Model of Communication. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press

Silverman, D.A. (2001), Interpreting Qualitative Data: Methods for Analysing Talk, Text and Interaction, Sage Publications Ltd, London

Talbot, M. (1998). Language and Gender. Oxford: Polity Press

Webster, M. (1985). Webster`s nith new collegiate dictionary. Meriam – Webster Inc.

Weckert, J. (2005) Electronic Monitoring in the Workplace: Controversies and Solutions, Idea Group Inc (IGI)

Young, M. (2003). Internet Security: Cryptographic Principles, Algorithms and Protocols, John Wiley and Sons

Other Resources

Privacy & Data Protection, Volume 6, Issue 3, pages 5-9

BBC (2000), E-mail Stress Overload,,

Campbell, T. (1998), The First E-mail Message,

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