E-Mail Overload and Instant Messaging: Different Investigative Dimensions

L. Tumanyan, N. M. Ali


While there have been extensive investigations on email overload, the main source of this business and management problem has received less attention so far. There are claims that using Instant Messaging (IM) reduces email overload, however, this has not been validated by academic research findings. This paper investigates how email overload is generated, and why IM is claimed to reduce it. Data collection was through the use of a quantitative mono-method, via an anonymous Survey Monkey online questionnaire. Respondents are members of an international professional body – The International Institute of Risk & Safety Management (IIRSM) – and work in different countries, industries and organizations. A cross-sectional Case Study, with an inductive approach is used. Results provide evidence that email overload is not externally-generated and that using IM does help reduce this internally-generated overload. A potential link between email overload, IM use and industry is observed. This study helps develop a more comprehensive understanding of email overload and contributes unique findings focused on establishing the main source of this universal workplace problem. Claims that IM reduces overload come from marketing material and newspaper articles lacking empirical evidence. This research is the first to establish whether or not these claims are true.


E-mail; IM; email; overload; source; reduce

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