A couple of days ago I stumbled across the citation to a new paper written about my 2004 LANL blog. I contacted the author, Mary Meares, of Washington State University and asked for a copy of the paper, which she sent.
Here's the citation:
Meares, M. M. and Islam-Zwart, K. "The Real Story”: Blogs as a Mechanism for Employee Voice" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Dresden International Congress Centre, Dresden, Germany OnlineProf. Meares is preparing a revised edition that will be published in Management Communication Quarterly soon, so she cannot make the paper generally available for download. However, she indicated that interested parties can contact her directly to request a copy. Prof. Meares' email address is email@example.com
Retrieved 2008-04-11 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p92355_index.html
Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: The purpose of the current paper is to explore the role of blogs as a mechanism for expression of employee concerns in a time of conflict and, using structuration theory (Giddens, 1984), to examine the ways in which bloggers can influence organizational structures. A qualitative analysis of messages posted on a community blog (LANL: The Real Story) identified ways in which the blog was used both to express opinions related to past events (remedial voice) and give input on future actions (preventive voice). In addition, the study identified four values communicated in the blog (justice, honesty, courage, and science), as well as the ways that these values were used to challenge the legitimacy of the organizational authorities and contest distanciation.
The summary part of the paper was particularly interesting:
The use of this new technology as a mechanism for remedial voice also has practical implications for employees and organizational authorities. From the employees' perspective, this study may provide an example for how employee concerns can become part of the organizational discourse. We hope it will encourage employees to look for opportunities to express their frustration as well as their constructive ideas for their organizations. Rather than ceding the responsibility for providing mechanisms for voice to the organizational authorities as if they are the only ones who can initiate contact, this study illustrates the ways in which employees have agency and the ability to influence the structures in their organizations.
For managers and other authorities in organizations, the current study emphasizes the need to provide employees with real opportunities for constructive voice (preventive and remedial) in order to prevent challenges to the legitimacy of the organizational authorities. This organization provides an example of how the legitimacy of individuals can be challenged through the construction of normative rules outside the control of the organizational power structures. Dialogue between organization members at different levels needs to take place in order to build collective, rather than polarized, structures of signification. In order to have dialogue, managers need to need to listen to employees sincerely without causing them to fear sanctions and must also be willing to take remedial action when managers do not live up to the expectations for legitimation.
It makes me wonder if this blog will some day be considered to have had social merit.
LANL, Retired 2005
Doug and Mary, thank you for allowing me to share this with the blog readers! -Frank