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Communication patterns in distributed work groups: a network analysis

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1 Author(s)
Belanger, F. ; Pamplin Coll. of Bus., Virginia Polytech. Inst. & State Univ., Blacksburg, VA, USA

Many of today's telecommuters are knowledge workers who require substantial communications to perform their jobs. The research presented investigates the nature of communication links between individuals in two work groups comprised of both telecommuters and nontelecommuters. Communication network analysis is used to map the communications in the groups and identify blocks of individuals. Blocks are groups of individuals with high levels of communication linkages among them. Work setting, gender, job type, tenure, and number of telecommuting days are investigated as potential factors in determining individuals' membership in blocks. There appears to be a tendency for telecommuters to communicate more with other telecommuters as well as for females to communicate more with one another. However, only job type was statistically related to block membership. These results indicate that there is a limited impact of telecommuting on the communication structure of work groups, which should reduce potential concerns of telecommuters about being left out of the office network. They should also reduce managers' concerns about having knowledge transfer and assimilation of corporate culture differences between telecommuting and nontelecommuting employees

Published in:

Professional Communication, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:42 ,  Issue: 4 )