Managing E-Mail Systems: An Exploration of Electronic Monitoring and Control in Practice

Managing E-Mail Systems: An Exploration of Electronic Monitoring and Control in Practice

Aidan Duane (Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), Ireland) and Patrick Finnegan (University College Cork (UCC), Ireland)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-128-5.ch007
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An email system is a critical business tool and an essential part of organisational communication. Many organisations have experienced negative impacts from email and have responded by electronically monitoring and restricting email system use. However, electronic monitoring of email can be contentious. Staff can react to these controls by dissent, protest and potentially transformative action. This chapter presents the results of a single case study investigation of staff reactions to electronic monitoring and control of an email system in a company based in Ireland. The findings highlight the variations in staff reactions through multiple time frames of electronic monitoring and control, and the chapter identifies the key concerns of staff which need to be addressed by management and consultants advocating the implementation of email system monitoring and control.
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The email infrastructure is now a mission critical component of the enterprise information infrastructure and an essential component in all implementations of eCommerce platforms, especially for enterprises striving to become more virtual, resilient and efficient (Graff, 2002a). Email systems have also become heavily integrated with mobile technologies, thus there is an increasing importance on Web or wireless access to central email servers (Graff and Grey, 2002). Mobile email access also increases the pressure on the organisation to maintain and improve the reliability of the core email system infrastructure (Graff and Grey, 2002). The more organisations rely on email, the more reliable it must be, because the risk of business interruption increases dramatically (Graff and Grey, 2002). Organisations must secure, expand and manage this communication medium effectively to meet new challenges (Graff and Grey, 2002; Weber, 2004).

However, the dramatic increase in email usage is commensurate with the rising number of email related workplace incidents and disputes (Simmers, 2002; American Management Association (AMA), 2004; Weber 2004). Personal use of email remains the number one use of email in the workplace (Russell et al., 2007). Organisations are all too aware of the problems associated with email use and are becoming more determined to reduce these threats (Burgess et al., 2005). Organisations must become more focused on stabilising and protecting their email systems, gaining more control over the use of their systems and managing risk associated with these systems (Graff and Grey, 2002).

Some organisations employ technology based solutions to control the email system including electronically monitoring all email activities, electronically filtering and blocking incoming and outgoing emails and restricting email systems for personal use (Sipior and Ward, 2002; Stanton and Stam, 2003). However, organisations can rarely dominate staff with the unilateral imposition of technology (Stanton and Stam, 2003). Although, technical controls are necessary, their effectiveness is questionable if organisations fail to look at the contextual issues of information systems (Dhillon, 1999).

Some organisations do little more than ask their employees to comply with a formal email policy (Simmers, 2002) while other organisations enforce hard-line email policies that exert zero tolerance of personal email use that are so nebulous that every employee could be deemed in violation (Oravec, 2002). However, Simmers (2002) contends that vague, unmonitored, unenforced or absent email policy exposes the organisation to a number of legal, financial and operational risks such as losses of confidential information, network congestion, threats to network integrity, diversion of employee attention, and increased liability.

Complete Chapter List

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Associate Editors
Table of Contents
Mehdi Khosrow-Pour
Chapter 1
Manuel Mora, Ovsei Gelman, Guisseppi Forgionne, Doncho Petkov, Jeimy Cano
A formal conceptualization of the original concept of system and related concepts—from the original systems approach movement—can facilitate the... Sample PDF
Integrating the Fragmented Pieces of IS Research Paradigms and Frameworks: A Systems Approach
Chapter 2
Steven Alter
The work system method was developed iteratively with the overarching goal of helping business professionals understand IT-reliant systems in... Sample PDF
Could the Work System Method Embrace Systems Concepts More Fully?
Chapter 3
Alfonso Reyes A.
This chapter is concerned with methodological issues. In particular, it addresses the question of how is it possible to align the design of... Sample PDF
The Distribution of a Management Control System in an Organization
Chapter 4
Phillip Dobson
This chapter seeks to address the dearth of practical examples of research in the area by proposing that critical realism be adopted as the... Sample PDF
Making the Case for Critical Realism: Examining the Implementation of Automated Performance Management Systems
Chapter 5
Jo Ann Lane
As organizations strive to expand system capabilities through the development of system-of-systems (SoS) architectures, they want to know “how much... Sample PDF
System-of-Systems Cost Estimation: Analysis of Lead System Integrator Engineering Activities
Chapter 6
Kosheek Sewchurran, Doncho Petkov
The chapter provides an action research account of formulating and applying a new business process modeling framework to a manufacturing processes... Sample PDF
Mixing Soft Systems Methodology and UML in Business Process Modeling
Chapter 7
Aidan Duane, Patrick Finnegan
An email system is a critical business tool and an essential part of organisational communication. Many organisations have experienced negative... Sample PDF
Managing E-Mail Systems: An Exploration of Electronic Monitoring and Control in Practice
Chapter 8
Stephen V. Stephenson, Andrew P. Sage
This chapter provides an overview of perspectives associated with information and knowledge resource management in systems engineering and systems... Sample PDF
Information and Knowledge Perspectives in Systems Engineering and Management for Innovation and Productivity through Enterprise Resource Planning
Chapter 9
Gunilla Widén-Wulff, Reima Suomi
This chapter works out a method on how information resources in organizations can be turned into a knowledge sharing (KS) information culture, which... Sample PDF
The Knowledge Sharing Model: Stressing the Importance of Social Ties and Capital
Chapter 10
Jijie Wang
Escalation is a serious management problem, and sunk costs are believed to be a key factor in promoting escalation behavior. While many laboratory... Sample PDF
A Meta-Analysis Comparing the Sunk Cost Effect for IT and Non-IT Projects
Chapter 11
Georgios N. Angelou
E-learning markets have been expanding very rapidly. As a result, the involved senior managers are increasingly being confronted with the need to... Sample PDF
E-Learning Business Risk Management with Real Options
Chapter 12
C. Ranganathan
Research on online shopping has taken three broad and divergent approaches viz, human-computer interaction, behavioral, and consumerist approaches... Sample PDF
Examining Online Purchase Intentions in B2C E-Commerce: Testing an Integrated Model
Chapter 13
Nicholas C. Georgantzas
This chapter combines disruptive innovation strategy (DIS) theory with the system dynamics (SD) modeling method. It presents a simulation model of... Sample PDF
Information Technology Industry Dynamics: Impact of Disruptive Innovation Strategy
Chapter 14
Shana L. Dardan, Ram L. Kumar, Antonis C. Stylianou
This study develops a diffusion model of customer-related IT (CRIT) based on stock market announcements of investments in those technologies.... Sample PDF
Modeling Customer-Related IT Diffusion
Chapter 15
Bassam Hasan, Jafar M. Ali
The acceptance and use of information technologies by target users remain a key issue in information systems (IS) research and practice. Building on... Sample PDF
The Impact of Computer Self-Efficacy and System Complexity on Acceptance of Information Technologies
Chapter 16
James Jiang, Gary Klein, Eric T.G. Wang
The skills held by information system professionals clearly impact the outcome of a project. However, the perceptions of just what skills are... Sample PDF
Determining User Satisfaction from the Gaps in Skill Expectations Between IS Employees and their Managers
Chapter 17
James Jiang, Gary Klein, Phil Beck, Eric T.G. Wang
To improve the performance of software projects, a number of practices are encouraged that serve to control certain risks in the development... Sample PDF
The Impact of Missing Skills on Learning and Project Performance
Chapter 18
Leigh Jin, Daniel Robey, Marie-Claude Boudreau
Open source software has rapidly become a popular area of study within the information systems research community. Most of the research conducted so... Sample PDF
Beyond Development: A Research Agenda for Investigating Open Source Software User Communities
Chapter 19
Milam Aiken, Linwu Gu, Jianfeng Wang
In the literature of electronic meetings, few studies have investigated the effects of topic-related variables on group processes. This chapter... Sample PDF
Electronic Meeting Topic Effects
Chapter 20
A. Durfee, A. Visa, H. Vanharanta, S. Schneberger, B. Back
Text documents are the most common means for exchanging formal knowledge among people. Text is a rich medium that can contain a vast range of... Sample PDF
Mining Text with the Prototype-Matching Method
Chapter 21
Francis Kofi Andoh-Baidoo, Elizabeth White Baker, Santa R. Susarapu, George M. Kasper
Using March and Smith’s taxonomy of information systems (IS) research activities and outputs and Newman’s method of pro forma abstracting, this... Sample PDF
A Review of IS Research Activities and Outputs Using Pro Forma Abstracts
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