CPSC 689/602--Spring 1997
Computer-Supported Cooperative Work


Paper Report

Title: Informal Communication in Organizations: Form, Function, and Technology
Authors: Robert E. Kraut, Robert S. Fish, Robert W. Root, Barbara L. Chalfonte
Citation: People's Reactions to Technology in Factories, Offices, and Aerospace, pp145-199, 1990
Reprinted in: Baecker, pp 287-314


This paper is divided into three parts, the first part is the theoretical explination, the second is the formal study, and the final parts is the technology revisit.

The authors pointed out the importance of communication for active cooperation and creative work. People need to communicate with one another to accomplish their production and social functions.

Looking around the working environment, the informal communcation seems to be a dominant activity, but most current video technology seems to focus on formal communications. The authors then discuessed more about the nature and value of informal and spontaneous communicative activity and whether technology could be fruitfully employed to aid it.

They tried to define Informal Communication as :

They describe the surface characteristics of informal conversations: including Frequency and initiation, Location, and Duration. In the formal study session, the episodes reviewed here share several noteworthy features. Informal communication tends to be frequent, and is distance sensitive. In other words, it happens most often with people who are in physical proximity. Finally, informal conversations tend to b shorter than more forml communiations.

In conclusion, we should pay more attention to the development of means and technology to support informal communication.


Report prepared by: Haowei Hsieh      Email: haowei@cs.tamu.edu
Discussion date: February 14, 1997        Report date: February 17, 1997