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Title: Email communications in team writing projects
Author: Edwards, Kirstie
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2006
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Nystrand's social interactive model of writing (1989) describes composing as a social construct between the reader and writer. Although many researchers are debating whether the language of computer mediated communication (CMC) veers towards written or spoken discourse, or has developed a style of its own (e.g. Baron 1998, 2001; Ferrara et al. 1991; Harrison 2000a; Yates 1996), genre now plays an important role in fixity of documents in a digital medium (Yates and Sumner 1997). I therefore analysed the adaptations in linguistic 'style' of email writing as a non intrusive means to study social-interactive behaviour in networked team writing projects. Based on the premise that socio-emotional communications benefit team performance (Argyle 1994; Barker et al. 2000; Hyland 1998; Panteli 2004), I tested the concept that social interactive adaptations in email writing describe the social-task balance on projects and are reflected in the social interactivity applied to the team writing of the document. Communication markers and writing influences were extracted from email content analysis to compare academic and commercial writing projects. Evaluating documents with Sless's social desirability model (2004) showed a parallelism between the social-task balance described by team emails and social desirability of the final documents. Further studies are required to prove this concept. Social interactive adaptations demonstrated in socio-emotional behaviour in the emails of the academic project were also demonstrated in the final document. Higher pro-social behaviour was represented in Dutch emails in the academic project, and in English emails in the commercial project. Face to face contact influenced pro-social CMC behaviour and perceptions of behaviour. The methodology provides a standard, unintrusive tool for monitoring the social dimensions of projects to identify and correct problem areas, and to research multiple contexts and inform more broadly on professional practice. Relating the social-task dimensions to document evaluations is the first step towards a causal model, to understand how team culture can influence virtual team writing. The merging of personal and professional email styles predicted by Danet (2001a) is already apparent in communications from the academic context. Findings suggest that to encourage informal exchange of ideas and improve socio-emotional relations, professional email communications would benefit from a more conversational style.
Supervisor: Yates, Simeon ; Green, Geff ; Dujardin, Anne-Florence ; Williams, Noel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available