A case study of multiple media use and multicommunicating in a Fortune 500 company: Practices, paradoxes and research challenges
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- Institutt for psykologi 
This thesis aimed to explore multiple media use and multicommunication, including the patterns and consequences of such use, and the implications related to the study of such use methodologically. Three main shortcomings were identified in existing research on multiple media use and multicommunicating: (1) a lack of focus on consequences; (2) a lack of focus on user context and the processual and temporal dimension; and (3) the mismatch between characteristics of multiple media use, multicommunicating, and how the majority of current research has chosen to study it methodologically. Furthermore, the present thesis also emerged out of the fact that the great majority of research has focused on the use of single media or the comparison of two or more media. The study was based on data from an operative department in a Fortune 500 company where multiple media use and multicommunicating were an important part of work practices. The context-based data collection combined participant observations, conversations, and in-depth interviews on multiple occasions with all of the participants. The findings of this study were presented in three papers. The aim of the first paper was to study the characteristics of multiple media use patterns and the consequences evolving from multiple media use patterns. Three interrelated practices for multiple media use were identified: (1) media cycling practices, referring to conditions leading to multiple media use and the media use patterns themselves; (2) fluid interdependent practices, referring to the use of multiple media on the collective level, and (3) puzzle zone practices, referring to the main arenas in the department to coordinate and align individual idiosyncratic multiple media use. An alignment paradox was identified as the main consequence resulting from these three practices. The second paper looked at the role of researcher emotions in grounded theory research studying multiple media use. The role of researcher emotions and reflexivity has received limited attention in grounded theory. Methodological Emotional Reflexivity (MER) was suggested as a tool to increase the transparency and adaptation of grounded theory research, by enabling a better understanding about how emotions influence the cycling between data collection and analysis. MER comprises emotional awareness, empathic understanding and emotions in decision-making. The third paper aimed at identifying types of multicommunicating and the contextual circumstances in which such multicommunication behaviors occur. Four types and contextual circumstances were identified and extended existing research: (1) congruent multicommunication, referring to communication about the same topic and thus reducing cognitive effort; (2) coordinative multicommunication, referring to when two or more participants use multiple media to solve the same tasks; (3) incongruent multicommunication, referring to two or more activities that require different conscious focus, in which it is impossible to have the same level of attention on the communication activities simultaneously; and (4), disruptive multicommunication, which is interruptive by nature, triggered by emerging situations and work context. In conclusion, these findings address the shortcomings in the existing research by going beyond the structural properties of multiple media use and multicommunicating, to identifying practices and elaborating consequences of such use. The findings also show that such use cannot be meaningfully separated from its organizational context and that the use is part of larger and ongoing communication processes. Finally, although existing research has provided valuable insights about multiple media use and multicommunication, learning more about use patterns and consequences requires a more in-depth and longitudinal approach, as opposed to the majority of existing research based on self-reporting.