Communication ETDs

Publication Date



Email as a communication phenomenon has been in existence since the 1970s, and yet researchers are still discovering new information regarding the usage and implications of usage for this medium (Atherton, Sawmynaden, Sheikh, Majeed, & Car, 2012; Zhu and White, 2009). This dissertation seeks to better understand organizational communication through the examination of email. Enron, a very large organization that peaked in the 1990s, utilized email for a variety of different purposes. Enron's email was placed online by the federal government, and includes communication from top executives. These messages represent the largest publicly accessible database of corporate email, and will be examined to make arguments about social worlds that Enron created. There are three main outcomes that guide the study. First, this work creates an exemplar study that utilizes a general CMM framework in the DICA form for analysis, in the hopes that others will utilize CMM as a research method. Second, this study provides organizations a template for the study of email. Thirdly, this dissertation provides a process-based understanding of digital social world creation. To achieve these outcomes, this research uses The Coordinated Management of Meaning (CMM) as a theory and a method; the DICA method is a formalization of CMM, which is augmented by levels of analysis with specific tools. A reflexive researcher orientation is employed through the duration of study, and organizational culture is understood as shared meaning co-constructed by conversational participants over time. The DICA method uses description, interpretation, critique, and analysis to coordinate the research efforts. This study helps explain how Enron as an organization created its social worlds, and turns a critical eye towards making better social worlds through the communication process in email.




email, Enron, CMM, organization, communication, Noblet, social worlds

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Weiss, David

Second Advisor

Littlejohn, Stephen

First Committee Member (Chair)

Foss, Karen

Second Committee Member

Lutgen-Sandvik, Pamela