Media and Communication Ph.D. Dissertations


Corporate Leadership and the Perceptions of Chief Executive Officer Computer-Mediated Communication Effectiveness

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Communication Studies

First Advisor

Melissa Spirek (Advisor)


Chief executive officers (CEOs) spend the majority of their time in organizations communicating. Mintzberg’s (1973) seminal work reported that CEOs spend up to 80% of their time communicating. It is not surprising then to find that selecting the most appropriate media channel to communicate to internal and external constituencies in the media rich environment of the 21st century is one of the greatest challenges CEOs currently face (Zeller & Spirek, 2003). Although Rice noted in 1984 that the CEO is an actor interacting and providing leadership utilizing computer-mediated communication channels with varying media rich channels, the complexity of this use for the CEO and his or her organization has increased exponentially over the past two decades. Specifically this investigation responds to this predicament. This dissertation explores when, where, what and how CEOs utilize multimedia channels across a media rich continuum. The results generated with the CEOs demonstrate that media richness theory (Daft & Lengel, 1984) is a fruitful framework. Findings indicate that the CEOs are stressed and these leaders seek information to conduct this communication effectively given the host of media-rich channels now available. The majority of the 60 CEO interviewees emphasized computer-mediated communication was important or absolutely necessary as a powerful communication channel. Adding to this complexity is the CEOs’ personal communication needs as well. Put simply, the effective and efficient use of computers across a host of scenarios is difficult. When, where, and how to utilize computer-mediated communication in combination with other communication channels was recognized as a difficult decision-making process with salient implications for selecting one medium over another. The self-reports repeatedly document that CEOs’ medium choices were associated with the degree of success in creating a shared meaning with his or her intended audience. Based upon the current investigation’s findings, future research should consider responding to media richness theory’s contribution to the field of communication. The findings underscore Rice (1984) and Williams, Rice, and Rogers’ (1988) challenge that the skills of leadership utilizing new media communication channels must include an understanding of the user’s attitude and experience, be it CEO, stakeholder, or employee.