Article

Computational & Mathematical Organization Theory

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 201-228

First online:

Communication Networks from the Enron Email Corpus “It's Always About the People. Enron is no Different”

  • Jana DiesnerAffiliated withCenter for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems (CASOS), Institute for Software Research International (ISRI), School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University Email author 
  • , Terrill L. FrantzAffiliated withCenter for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems (CASOS), Institute for Software Research International (ISRI), School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
  • , Kathleen M. CarleyAffiliated withCenter for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems (CASOS), Institute for Software Research International (ISRI), School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University

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Abstract

The Enron email corpus is appealing to researchers because it represents a rich temporal record of internal communication within a large, real-world organization facing a severe and survival-threatening crisis. We describe how we enhanced the original corpus database and present findings from our investigation undertaken with a social network analytic perspective. We explore the dynamics of the structure and properties of the organizational communication network, as well as the characteristics and patterns of communicative behavior of the employees from different organizational levels. We found that during the crisis period, communication among employees became more diverse with respect to established contacts and formal roles. Also during the crisis period, previously disconnected employees began to engage in mutual communication, so that interpersonal communication was intensified and spread through the network, bypassing formal chains of communication. The findings of this study provide valuable insight into a real-world organizational crisis, which may be further used for validating or developing theories and dynamic models of organizational crises; thereby leading to a better understanding of the underlying causes of, and response to, organization failure.

Keywords

Enron email corpus communication networks social network analysis dynamic network analysis organizational crisis organizational hierarchy