Using social network analysis to examine organizational use of electronic mail
The objective of this thesis is three-fold. First, the thesis discusses the influence of ComputerMediated
Communication (CMC) on organizational life with an emphasis on current theories
and major studies on the social and psychological effects of CMC on organizations. The
validity of some studies on the adoption and use of CMC in organizations is criticized on both
theoretical and methodological grounds. Second, as more and more organizations are
evolving toward the direction of becoming networked organizations and communication via
computer networks is becoming more widespread, it necessitates a need to apply a network
perspective to the study of CMC behavior in organizations. As a theoretical alternative to
some widely used frameworks, social network analysis is introduced as an appropriate and
robust tool to scrutinize organizational use of CMC, particularly electronic mail (e-mail).
Finally, a study is conducted to examine the influence of network structure including
individual e-mail use, network tie strength, individual network centrality and network clique
membership on messaging behavior in an organizational e-mail network. Hypothesized
effects are evaluated through analyzing e-mail messages exchanged among the network users
(N = 155) and transcribed texts and notes from semi-structured face-to-face interviews with
some users. Results indicate that organizational e-mail messages are exchanged in a manner
supportive of most of the claims of the network analysis based approach. This study provides
supportive evidence of the validity and utility of social network analysis in studying
organizational e-mail networks, particularly in the areas of the purposes of e-mail use,
emotional expressiveness of e-mail communication and influence attempts via e-mail.
Key words: social network analysis, tie strength, centrality, network cliques, organizational email
use, emotional expressiveness of e-mail and influence attempts via e-mail.