Date of Award

Summer 2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems - (Ph.D.)

Department

Information Systems

First Advisor

Norbert Elliot

Second Advisor

Murray Turoff

Third Advisor

Jerry Fjermestad

Fourth Advisor

Katia Passerini

Fifth Advisor

Michael J. Chumer

Sixth Advisor

Ann Fruhling

Abstract

SMS text-messaging is an interoperable communication vehicle known to be dependable for mass media alert notifications in crisis management. SMS text-messaging also offers potential as one viable two-way communication alternative for field responders in crisis response. Both continuously changing mobile information communication technologies and the importance of precise information exchange constitute a need for communication protocol training and practice. This study introduces a technology-mediated training technique based on speech act and communicative action theories. These theories are used to inform the design of a baseline measure for task performance improvement and to suggest a model to predict communication readiness. Because this research bridges two fields - information systems and communication - it provides a model for full construct-representation of text-based interaction in a technology-mediated environment. The proposed model is validated through a web-based training application with 50 participants who have different crisis response backgrounds, including emergency management practitioners, first responders, public safety volunteers, community volunteers, community citizens, and students over the age of 18. Each group encompasses diverse technological skill and usage levels.

The web-based training application developed in the present study features plain language training so that a clear understanding of user behavior, response, and training would emerge. The training and crisis scenario are rendered through multimedia recordings and designed to measure task response, based on the 160 character per SMS text-message exchange limit. The mixed-methods design begins with a crisis scenario, followed by pre-training measures, three repeated training measures, and concludes with post-training measures. A total of six tasks are introduced (3 pre-training and 3 post-training) in which each participant interfaces with the web-based training application through a high-speed Internet connection. Task response level results show promise for this exploratory research and contribute to a new discourse mode that extends to mobile technology penetration. Future research will focus on refinement of the model's task performance measures and will seek to introduce additional situation-based scenarios and mixed-modes of communication. During this next research phase, the objective is to incorporate the model into mobile device usage and operationalize the model in authentic crisis management contexts. If successful in extended field simulation, the model may have the potential to ensure effective mobile information communication within the context of crisis.

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