Communication Studies professor develops a way to measure people's use of mobile technology during meetings
Keri Stephens hopes multicommunicating scale will generate conversations about technology use expectations
AUSTIN, Texas — May 18, 2012 — At the beginning of a meeting, a manager informs everyone that his smartphone is his lifeline to business and that he will answer the phone if it rings. That manager's boss, meanwhile, privately complains about mobile technology hampering productivity and making meetings even longer.
With so many opinions surrounding multicommunicating – defined as using technology to simultaneously participate on more than one conversation – Assistant Professor Keri Stephens has developed a way to measure the use of mobile technology during meetings.
The measurement scale, which appears in "Management Communication Quarterly's" May issue, helps people measure how multicommunicating supports five objectives: being available, participating in parallel meetings, providing social support, understanding and influencing.
"I hope people will use the multicommunicating scale to have conversations around organizational norms because what is expected in one work group can be considered rude in another," said Stephens, who teaches in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Texas at Austin College of Communication. "I also hope this will help people make decisions about when to have meetings, who to include and what content to cover in meetings."
Stephens' research provides insight into how organizational members use mobile devices in meetings and how the communicative behaviors observed in a young generation may diffuse into large-scale organizations in the next few years.
Stephens said her multicommunicating scale could support future research, including how multicommunicating could affect decision-making, how work/life boundaries are blurring and how multicommunicating differs from multitasking.
Stephens' research, "Multiple Conversations During Organizational Meetings: Development of the Multicommunicating Scale," was funded by a University of Texas Research Grant and a College of Communication Reddick Grant.
About The University of Texas at Austin College of Communication
One of the nation's foremost institutions for the study of advertising and public relations, communication sciences and disorders, communication studies, journalism and radio-TV-film, The University of Texas at Austin College of Communication is preparing students to thrive in the era of media convergence. Serving more than 4,500 undergraduate and graduate students, the College is nationally recognized for its faculty members, research and student media. For more information about the College of Communication, visit http://communication.utexas.edu.
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