chapter  19
20 Pages

Social Impacts of Electronic Mailin Organizations: A Review of the Research Literature: Laura Garton and Barry Wellman

All of this activity and visibility has generated much speculation about the social implications of e-mail. The inherently social nature of CMC means that this technology is likely to have both intended and unintended outcomes. The hoped-for advantages of CMC include productivity and efficiency gains; greater organizational communication, commitment, and solidarity; more participatory and egalitarian decision making; better decisions; and administrative and geographic decentralization (e.g., Hiltz & Turoff, 1978; Johnson-Lenz & JohnsonLenz, 1994; Sproull & Kiesler, 1991b). Yet Jeremiahs have warned that CMC can also lead to increased management surveillance and control, more standardized work, centralized power and loss of branch autonomy, disrupted group processes and decision making, and increased worker alienation (e.g., Clement, 1992; Sproull & Kiesler, 1991a; Zuboff, 1988).