E-Mail Communication and Group Cooperation in Mixed Motive Contexts

Abstract

Two empirical studies are presented that explore how and why e-mail communication (versus face-to-face communication) influences cooperation in mixed motive group contexts. Results indicate that, relative to those engaging in face-to-face interaction, those who interacted via e-mail were (1) less cooperative and (2) felt more justified in being noncooperative. Feelings of justification mediated the relationship between communication media and the decision to cooperate or not.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Although there are some studies that elucidate personality characteristics that affect one’s decision to cooperate or not (e.g., Hertel, Neuhof, Theuer, & Kerr, 2000; Kerr & Kaufman-Gilliland, 1997; Kramer, McClintock, & Messick, 1986) the bulk of research has addressed situations under which people are more likely to focus on either the individual or the collective needs in social dilemma situations, and we follow in the line of this situationally based research.

  2. 2.

    This case can be obtained from the Dispute Resolution Research Center at Northwestern University.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank the Rutgers Business School Research Resource Committee and the Rutgers Business School Technology Management Research Center for grants that supported this research. We also wish to express our appreciation to Sandra Cha, Jennifer Mueller, John Jost, and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments and suggestions on this paper.

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Correspondence to Charles E. Naquin.

Appendix: Payoff Calculations for SHARC Roles

Appendix: Payoff Calculations for SHARC Roles

Current Harvest levels in metric tons by role prior to meeting

1 Large commercial harvest = 1400
2 Small commercial harvest = 1300
3 Recreational competitive harvest = 1200
4 Recreational tours harvest = 1100

Payoff Calculations by role after meeting

1 Large commercial payoff = $10,000 × (Harvest level* + .3(Future))
2 Small commercial payoff = $10,000 × (Harvest level* + .4(Future))
3 Recreational competitive payoff = $10,000 × (Harvest level* + .5(Future))
4 Recreational tours payoff = $10,000 × (Harvest level* + .6(Future))
5 Future = Smaller of 2500 or (5000 − total harvest level)
6 * Harvest level = Harvest level for that particular role

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Naquin, C.E., Kurtzberg, T.R. & Belkin, L.Y. E-Mail Communication and Group Cooperation in Mixed Motive Contexts. Soc Just Res 21, 470–489 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11211-008-0084-x

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Keywords

  • E-mail
  • Cooperation
  • Group work
  • Decision-making
  • Social dilemmas