Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 15 Number 1 1998 pp. 119-141

Reducing Status Effects with Computer-Mediated Communication: Evidence from Two Distinct National Cultures

Tan, Bernard C Y, Kwok-Kee, Wei, Watson, Richard T, and Walczuch, Rita M

ABSTRACT: Matching laboratory experiments were conducted in two distinct national cultures to investigate whether computer-mediated communication (CMC) can reduce status effects during group communication in both national cultures. Three independent variables were studied: national culture (Singapore versus U.S.), task type (intellective versus preference), and communication medium (unsupported versus CMC). Three different facets of status effects were measured as dependent variables: status influence, sustained influence, and perceived influence. Singapore groups reported higher sustained influence than U.S. groups. Preference task groups experienced higher status influence and sustained influence than intellective task groups. Unsupported groups also had higher status influence and sustained influence compared to CMC groups. In addition, Singapore groups that completed the preference task in the unsupported setting reported higher perceived influence than groups under other treatments. These results demonstrate that CMC appears to be able to reduce status effects during group communication, both in Singapore and in the United States. This is especially true when groups are working on a preference task. Moreover, status influence appears to be more sustainable in Singapore groups, where group members appear to be more conscious of its presence, than in U.S. groups.

Key words and phrases: communication medium, computer-mediated communication (CMC), national culture, status effects, task type