Organizational Sense of Community and Listserv Use: Examining the Roles of Knowledge and Face-to-Face Interaction

Organizational Sense of Community and Listserv Use: Examining the Roles of Knowledge and Face-to-Face Interaction

Anita Blanchard (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-110-0.ch020
OnDemand PDF Download:
No Current Special Offers


This study examines how a Listserv affects its members’ sense of community (SOC) with the sponsoring organization. It was expected that the Listserv would increase members’ knowledge about and participation in the sponsoring organization department, which, in turn, would increase their SOC. The study examined Listserv members and nonmembers before and after implementation of the Listserv. As expected, Listserv membership increased knowledge and face-to-face activity, and knowledge and face-to-face activity increased sense of community. However, there was ironically no effect of Listserv membership on sense of community. These findings challenge previous theories about the development of sense of community while nonetheless demonstrating the positive effects of Listserv membership.
Chapter Preview


Organizations can use one-way, information-dispersing Listservs to keep their members informed and connected. Listservs are group distribution e-mails in which members can conveniently send messages to one e-mail address, usually the Listserv name, instead of all of the individual members’ e-mail addresses. Sometimes organizations assign members to Listservs, but often members choose to join a particular Listserv to stay informed about the organization or topics relevant to the organization.

Work organizations can use Listservs to keep employees updated on policies, announcing the entry or departure of key personnel, changes in benefits, and upcoming social events (e.g., the company picnic). Educational organizations can use Listservs to inform students about upcoming classes, research and internship opportunities, and extracurricular student activities (e.g., clubs). Social and professional organizations can use them to inform members of club-relevant announcements, involvement opportunities, and organize upcoming face-to-face (FtF) events. For example, alumni clubs can make announcements and promote viewing parties for athletic events; professional networking clubs can promote job opportunities and their monthly meetings.

These organizations may expect that this type of Listserv keeps Listserv members informed and active in the organization. However, how does the Listserv affect the Listserv members’ greater attachment to the sponsoring organization? Researchers believe that electronic collaboration technologies such as e-mail and the Internet can increase members’ attraction to and affiliation with their communication partners (Adams-Price & Chandler, 2000; Meier, 2000; Mesch & Levanon, 2004; Walther, 1996). Does this relationship extend to increasing affiliation with the larger organization?

This chapter will examine the relationship between an informational Listserv and organizational affiliation. Specifically, it will examine how a Listserv affects the amount of information members feel they have about the organization sponsoring the Listserv, the amount of face-to-face interaction members have with other members of the organization, and subsequently, a particular form of organizational affiliation: organizational sense of community (SOC). The next section examines the research on computer-mediated communication (CMC) and organizational sense of community.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: