Email and the Subversion of Organisational Culture
thesisposted on 07.06.2012, 11:41 by David Roy Freke
Email is, in the early part of the 21st century, an integral part of organisational life. Its centrality has resulted in it being more than a mere organisational process. Rather, email represents a vehicle by which organisational culture develops. Using concepts of “email communities” and “insider-outsider social habitus” statuses, this phenomenon is explored through evocative ethnography and is found to be both benign and malign. Issues of alternative hierarchies, bullying, inclusion and exclusion emerge. These issues are characterised by a lack of awareness of the effects of their actions on the part of protagonists. Because the protagonists’ actions are not usually deliberate, those suffering the effects doubt the validity of their experiences and feelings. From the organisational perspective, official notions of organisational culture and organisational values are compromised or even rendered irrelevant. This in turn compromises the honesty and integrity of organisations in respect of the ways in which they present themselves to their employees and the outside world. Organisations, however, are largely unaware of these effects as the insider-outsider social habitus concept does not engage with the structural culture-as-an-entity understanding favoured by organisations. Remedies, examined within the compass of organisational learning and knowledge management are explored, with a need for remedies within both concepts being found to be necessary, together with a need for emotional intelligence.