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A typology of conflict resolution strategies in e-mail communication

Rossin, Sally Diane (2009) A typology of conflict resolution strategies in e-mail communication. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



E-mail is used extensively to share ideas, discuss issues and to collaborate in the management of projects. However, it is often considered to be a lean medium of communication, epistolary in style, and lacking in both the verbal and non-verbal cues found in face-to-face communication. These limitations can predispose the message to misunderstandings between interlocutors leading to tensions and the use of aggressive tactics. Ensuing conflicts, if badly managed, can be both destructive and costly. The main premise for this research is that conflict resolution strategies, similar to those found in interpersonal interactions, are used in e-mail communication. The purpose of this study is to identify in group projects the features inherent in the language of e-mail that show the interlocutors' use of these strategies within their written exchanges. The analysis of the data is derived from the e-mail text of three separate project teams working in European Universities. The problem of identifying these strategies is approached from the perspective of Pragmatics. The methodology used is Discourse Analysis. The study is divided into two analytical phases; the first, employs the use of Speech Acts to analyse the written utterances; the second, utilises Sillars' Typology of Conflict Resolution Strategies as a template for identifying the types of conflict used in e-mail communication. The results of this study confirm the use of three kinds of conflict resolution strategies in the e-mail; this allows a comparative analysis of the three groups to be undertaken. These findings are considered to have important implications within the field of Computer-Mediated Communication, particularly for the understanding of expressions of conflict within e-mail contexts as well as their consequences for sender/receiver interaction in project groups

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:2009
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:08 Sep 2011 18:24

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