Distant Relations: The Affordances of Email in Interorganizational Conflict

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article



This article explores the role of email in the ambiguous circumstances of an established international partnership that is developing into competition. Using the naturally occurring interaction of a longitudinal ethnographic study, we study the ensuing task and relationship conflicts through the communication medium. Results show that the conflict is facilitated by email, not as an unfortunate side-effect but as a strategic choice of distance, partly for passive protection but also for active control of the interaction. We use the results to chart the multiple situated identities of the communicators that are made salient in their virtual interaction. The double aspect of social and organizational contexts is shown to have an effect on different issues, such as organizational authority at the home organization, the buyer-supplier relationship, nonnative language use, and norms of communication style in the interaction.

Publication information

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Business Communication
Number of pages21
StatePublished - 26 Feb 2016

Bibliographical note

Epub ahead of print. Published online February 26, 2016

    Research areas

  • Email, Computer-mediated communication, Affordances, Workplace conflict, Avoidance

ID: 44501346