Asynchronous Communication: Investigating the Influences of Relational Elements and Background on the Framing Structure of Emails

Mohammad Awad AlAfnan


This study explored the influences of relational elements and the background of communicators on the framing structure of email messages that were exchanged in an educational Institute in Malaysia. The investigation revealed that social distance played a more significant role than power relations as Malaysian respondents are, generally, more polite to distant colleagues than they are to close colleagues regardless of their organizational position. It was also revealed that the ethnic background of email writers prompted the framing structure of the emails as the use of the pre-closing move and ‘thank you’ as a closing marker was generally a Malaysian practice. This study also revealed that the framing structure of the emails depended on the direction of the message as the majority of the emails that were sent to external contacts included an auto signature, whereas the internally exchanged email were mainly signed off using the first name of the sender alone.  In addition, it was revealed that email writers in the educational Institute had a very high tendency to name their messages as almost 100 percent of the emails included the identifying topic move, which was generally clearly or broadly informative move.

Keywords: Email communication, Relational factors, Framing moves, Social distance, Power relations

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