lnstitut fur Wirtschafts-und Sozialgeographie Wirtschaftsuniversitat Wien A Conceptual Framework and Some Empirical Tests

Univ, Manfred Fischer, Manfred Fischer, Rico Maggi, Christian Rammer
1990 unpublished
ISBN 3 85037 007 0 Introduction Information and communication economics is a recent, but rapidly evolving field of scientific research exploring a broad spectrum of policy and research issues arising from technological innovation in telecommunication. Scholarly attention has focused on new electronic communication media, such as cable TV, electronic mail, voice mail and various forms of teleconferencing because of the growing pervasiveness and invasiveness of these technologies (see Ferguson
more » ... 6, Jussawalla and Ebenfield 1984). Despite the research conducted in recent years, there is relatively little understanding of the impact of new electronic media on communication behaviour. The paper presents a methodology and empirical results on communication behaviour in a university setting. A general framework for communication behaviour is developed where (tele)communication media choice plays an important role. The media choice component of the conceptual framework is analysed in some more detail. The formation of communication media preferences is assumed to depend on the communication context (characteristics of the communication activity, attributes of the initiator-recipient relationship), characteristics of the communication initiator as well as on feelings about and perceptions of alternative communication media (electronic mail, facsimile, telephone, courier mail, traditional mail). Situational constraints (i.e. institutional-, time-and costrelated constraints) may orient preferences among the choice options. Testing the media choice segment of the conceptual framework is being achieved by means of the stated preference approach using experimental design theory. The target population is composed of all scholars associated with an Austrian university. The survey population is restricted to those scholars associated with the University of Vienna, the Technical University of Vienna and the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. The sample design used relies on exogenous stratification. The dimensions for stratification were the status of the scholar, the type of university and the type of department. The drawing of observations out of each stratum was done randomly. Empirical results are presented using multinomial legit models for a series of communication contexts. 1 The paper is organized in four sections. The first presents the conceptual framework for communication media choice. The next section discusses the stated preference data approach, the structure of the experimental design and the discrete choice modelling approach used. The third section describes the empirical context and pesents the analysis of the data and discussion of the results. The final section presents some general conclusions. The Conceptual Framework Up to now there is a lack of conceptual development which explains media choice behaviour at the individual level. The conceptualization needed should attempt to explain under what communication contexts specific media choices are made and how these choices are made. The design of the integrated framework for communication choice within an university setting outlined in Figure 1 was strongly influenced by Moore and Jovanis (1988) . Figure 1 depicts the interaction of a department's supply of communication facilities (media such as telephone, facsimile, electronic mail, courier mail, traditional mail etc.) with the demand for communication in a simplified manner. The demand for communication evolves from the organisational structure of the department including the department's objectives (especially with respect to research) as well as formal and informal rules governing individual behaviour. Supply and demand result in the need for a certain quantitity and type of communication activity. Most of the communication needs are met by communication within the existing contact network, either by using communication media or by travel to face-to-face meetings (conferences, workshops, lectures etc.), while others may be satisfied only by establishing new contacts. An important feature of the conceptual model is the feedback from communication outcomes to both the supply of communication facilities and the demand for communication. The communication media choice segment of the conceptual framework is expanded in Figure 2 . The choice process is conceptualized as including the following stages. measure refers to the percentage of correct ex-post predictions (the so-called prediction success) which counts those observations for which the model predicted the same communication medium choice as was actually observed. Three types of variables are taken into consideration. The first type of variables attempts to measure the influence of feelings about and perceptions of communication media characteristics. The generic variable (familiarity with the communication media, in short: FAM) and the alternative-specific variable accessibility (ACCESS), specific to e-mail, are included. The second type of variables refers to characteristics of the communication context, such as the alternative-specific variables confidentiality (CONFID) and volume (VOLUME) of communication as well as the alternative-specific variables urgency (URGENCY)and complexity (COMPLEX) of communication. The latter two variables are included in the location-split only. The third type concerns alternative specific constants. They are introduced for all alternatives except traditional mail which is used as the reference alternative. They capture the effects of unobserved factors and individual idiosyncracies influencing choice decisions.