Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Why doesn't your e-mail get answered?

Here's a Q&A with a Harvard Business School reporter and Greg Barron, the CLER Research Fellow at Harvard Business School, about Barron and his partner's research on why online help requests are sometimes ignored. The information can help managers and reporters when e-mailing employees and sources.

Some of the findings:
  • The more people queried, the lower the proportion of responses
  • A recipient of an e-mail that is sent through a discussion group may evaluate the e-mail as being sent to many who are capable of responding, which may decrease the tendency to respond
  • The probability that a rational person will volunteer to produce a public good decreases with group size
  • Anecdotally, questions sent by a female had a higher probability of being answered
  • Recipients in the cc field are not expected to respond to an e-mail
  • Managers need to keep their e-mails personalized whenever possible

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