The Impact of Voice Mail Technology on Environmental Monitoring, Environmental Interpretation and Organizational Learning

Date of Submission


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Science in Management Systems (Sc.D.)




Abbas Nadim

Committee Member

David Morris

Committee Member

Pawel Mensz

LC Subject Headings

Voice mail systems--United States, Management science

Call No. at the Univ. of New Haven Library

AS 36 .N290 Mgmt. Syst. 1992 no.3


  1. Recent advances in information technologies encompassing computers and telecommunications, have significantly increased the availability of information for decision making. Even with this growth many corporate managers still view information technologies, such as voice mail, as having limited benefits.

This study was developed to evaluate the impact of voice mail, one particular type of information technology, on the management activities of environmental monitoring, interpretation and organizational learning. The study constructs a research model of an organization as an interpretative system that continually monitors and interprets important sectors of the external environment, and takes action based upon collective interpretation. A mail survey followed by personal telephone and in-company interviews with executives was used as the primary data collection method. A questionnaire was mailed to 639 companies using voice mail technology. Managers in 135 companies returned completed questionnaires.

The study found that voice mail does not change the way managers traditionally approach their monitoring activities of the external environment. Managers prefer a variety of information sources when seeking to understand changes in their external environment. The research did show that where a communications pattern has already been established, such as through the telephone system, voice mail improves the communication process by facilitating more effective information exchange. This was noted particularly in the customer sector where voice mail was used more frequently to monitor customer activities. A statistically significant number of respondents reported that voice mail technology did increase the access to and speed of exchange of information in the customer sector.

The study found that voice mail has had a significant impact, at the .05 level, on the manager's ability to interpret environmental changes by making available among organizational members more timely, detailed, and accurate information. The study suggests that while information regarding the external environment come from a variety of sources, once acquired, can be exchanged with other managers more rapidly through voice mail. Respondents reported that voice mail was generally better than written memos because the voice mail message contained more information cues. The study also found that voice mail technology significantly decreased the time needed by managers to interpret and gain consensus on appropriate management action.

The research findings in the area of organizational learning allows us to conclude that while the respondents felt that voice mail had improved their ability to respond more quickly to environmental changes by facilitating the rapid distribution and exchange of information, there was no empirical evidence that this technology impacted organizational learning. While not statistically significant, there was a large number of managers that felt voice mail did have an impact in the area of short-term organizational learning.