Improving the Use and Reuse of Email in the Context of an Engineering Company

  • Craig Loftus

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The use, reuse and manipulation of information has become a key factor in the success of any organisation in an increasingly competitive and global business environment. Ensuring that employees are able to access (or are provided with) the right information in a timely manner is one of the key challenges facing organisations. Amongst the dominant communication methods email fills an important role in facilitating distributed communication and it is seen as a key target for improvement.Email is being used extensively and increasingly as a significant (and often dominant) method for communication within engineering organisations and projects and there exists significant opportunity and requirement to improve the use and reuse of email.This thesis contributes a rich understanding of the practise and perception of email use and reuse developed through a comprehensive review of the literature and three investigative studies: a study of the content of emails exchanged during an engineering project, a survey of practising engineers describing the role of email in supporting communication in projects and engineers perception of email, and a investigation of the information about the relationships between engineers participating in a project as represented by their exchanges of email.The second main contribution is a set of scenarios that were developed to summarise the understanding developed in the investigative studies, and form a core set of contextualised problems that can be used to communicate the research to industry and around which an holistic proposal is described to improve engineers use and reuse of email.The final contribution is an approach for supporting engineers in interpreting emails by the provision of additional contextual information, mitigating a core problem identified during the course of the research for which a well established information management solution does not already exist.
Date of Award4 Feb 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorChristopher McMahon (Supervisor) & Ben Hicks (Advisor)


  • information
  • email
  • e-mail
  • engineering
  • records
  • reuse
  • context

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