The Six Key Dimensions of Understanding Media

The Genre Model can help in evaluating how a new communication technology may fit into your specific corporate environment.
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Managers typically dread discovering the next new thing their employees are using. Yet individuals’ pioneering is often the way in which new technologies — blogs, Skype, or electronic bulletin boards, for example — are ultimately merged into an organization’s mainstream, often with significant payoff, although the very same technologies could be problematic to other organizations if adopted wholesale.

In other words, no technology is inherently “right” or “wrong.” Instead, managers must evaluate how it will work in the context of their specific organization. Such an approach allows for the flexibility to change with the times, possibly avoiding the loss of competitive advantage relative to more nimble or tech-savvy companies, while also maintaining control and gaining insights into the technology’s wider implications. Thus a company may choose to adopt, partially or completely, a new technology or, if indicated, to limit or shut down its use.

Our own preferred guide to understanding and evaluating the use of communication technologies in the workplace, and how such use may evolve over time, is called the Genre Model. Based on a methodology developed in academia, this model can help practitioners assess a technology’s potential benefits and risks for their organizations. (See “About the Research.”)

About the Research »



1. J. Yates and W.J. Orlikowski, “Genres of Organizational Communication: A Structurational Approach to Studying Communication and Media,” Academy of Management Review 17, no. 2 (April 1992): 299–326.

2. K. Crowston and M. Williams, “Reproduced and Emergent Genres of Communication on the World Wide Web.” The Information Society 16, no. 3 (2000): 201–202.

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