Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.15, No.1, 1999. pp. 39–56
A Comparison of Mail and E-mail for a Survey of Employees in U.S. Statistical Agencies
Mick P. Couper, Johnny Blair, and Timothy Triplett
Abstract:This article reports on the results of a study comparing e-mail and mail for a survey
of employees in several government statistical agencies in the U.S. As part of a larger
study of organizational climate, employees in five agencies were randomly assigned to a
mail or e-mail mode of data collection. Comparable procedures were used for advance
contact and followup of subjects across modes. The article describes the procedures used
to implement the survey, and discusses the results of the mode experiment. Across all five
agencies, higher response rates were obtained for mail (range of 68-76%) than for e-mail
(range 37-63%). Data quality (item missing data) was similar across the two modes.
Higher-status employees appeared more likely to respond to e-mail than to mail.
Controlling for differences in the composition of the samples due to nonresponse, e-mail
respondents appeared to be more positive in their responses to questions about climate and
morale in their agencies.
Keywords:Electronic mail; mode of data collection; organizational surveys.
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