Abstract - The Information Society 13(3)

Battle of the sexes on e-mail - Or is it?

Celia T. Romm and Nava Pliskin.

Few studies have attempted to link e-mail use to power and politics. The purpose of this article is to offer some initial evidence and analysis of e-mail's role in organizational power and politics. To frame the discussion, the article reviews the relevant writings on power and politics. The review is concluded with a theoretical critique that suggests that contextual and, particularly, temporal aspects should be incorporated into research on power and politics in organizations. To demonstrate how an analysis based on temporal aspects can be undertaken, a case study that outlines the use of e-mail for power and politics in a university is presented. The discussion and conclusions sections synthesize the analysis by demonstrating that what was interpreted by many organization members at the early stages of conflict as a "battle of the sexes" can be seen (and, indeed, was interpreted by many organization members at the later stages of the conflict) as an elaborate exercise in misinformation created by top management to further its political objectives. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications from this case to e-mail research and practice.

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