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

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.

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Author information

Correspondence to Jana Diesner.

Additional information

Jana Diesner is a Research Associate and Linguistic Programmer at the Center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems at the School of Computer Science (CASOS), Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). She received her Masters in Communications from Dresden University of Technology in 2003. She had been a research scholar at the Institute for Complex Engineered System at CMU in 2001 and 2002. Her research combines computational linguistics, social network analysis and computational organization theory.

Terrill L. Frantz is a post-doc researcher at the Center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems (CASOS) in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. His research involves studying the dynamics of organization social-networks and behavior via computer modeling and simulation. He is developing an expertise in workforce integration strategy and policy evaluation during organization mergers. He earned his doctorate (Ed.D. in Organization Change) from Pepperdine University, a MBA from New York University and a BS in Business Administration (Computer Systems Management) from Drexel University. Prior to entering academic research, for nearly 20 years he was a software applications development manager in the global financial services and industrial chemicals industries; most recently as a Vice President in Information Technology at Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong, New York and London.

Kathleen M. Carley is a professor at the Institute for Software Research International in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. She is the director of the center for Computational Analysis of Social and Organizational Systems (CASOS) <http://www.casos.cs.cmu.edu/>, a university wide interdisciplinary center that brings together network analysis, computer science and organization science (www.casos.ece.cmu.edu) and has an associated NSF funded training program for Ph.D. students. She carries out research that combines cognitive science, social networks and computer science to address complex social and organizational problems. Her specific research areas are computational social and organization theory, group, organizational and social adaptation and evolution, social and dynamic network analysis, computational text analysis, and the impact of telecommunication technologies and policy on communication, information diffusion, disease contagion and response within and among groups particularly in disaster or crisis situations.

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Diesner, J., Frantz, T.L. & Carley, K.M. Communication Networks from the Enron Email Corpus “It's Always About the People. Enron is no Different”. Comput Math Organiz Theor 11, 201–228 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10588-005-5377-0

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Keywords

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