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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/368

Title: Social impacts of electronic mail in organizations: a review of the research literature
Authors: Garton, Laura E.
Wellman, Barry
Keywords: E-mail
Computer Mediated Communication
Social Implications
Organizations
Issue Date: Nov-1993
Publisher: Ontario Telepresence Project
Series/Report no.: KMDI Historical Papers;KMDI-HP-93-13
Abstract: E-mail is a communication network operating on a computer network that supports social networks. It combines iocatiornl flexibility, rapid transmission to muitiple others across time and spa.ce, and the ability to store and process information. We review research into how e-mail shapes - and is shaped by - organizational structures and processes. Although social phenomeru strongly affect the use of e-mail, many discussions of media use have treated it as a voluntary, individual act of matching task to media. They have paid less attention to the influence of organizational power, group perceptions, and social network relations. E-mail provides fewer cues than FTF communication about interactions, physical context or social roles. As this fosters status equalization, there is less awareness of group members' organizational niche and power, or ascribed characteristics. People are more uninhibited, non-conformist and conflictual when using email; groups are more polarized and take longer to reach consensus. However, groups using e-mail tend to produce more diverse opinions and better decisions. E-mail increases access to new people; weakens spatial, temporal and status barrien; and provides access to information that would otherwise be unavailable. Whm people conmunicate electronically, work groups become more fluid. People can participate actively in more groups, and those on the periphery get more involved.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/368
Appears in Collections:Technical reports

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