|About the Book|
This dissertation develops a communication theory of transitional space. The focus of this theory is on how business leaders use communication to rebuild interorganizational networks following a large-scale disruption. The premise of a communicationMoreThis dissertation develops a communication theory of transitional space. The focus of this theory is on how business leaders use communication to rebuild interorganizational networks following a large-scale disruption. The premise of a communication theory of transitional space is that a large-scale disruption creates a space in which conditions are neither what they were before the disruption nor where they need to be in order for business to resume with a sense of normalcy. The way business leaders communicate in this space leads to the creation of transitional networks, or networks that enable business leaders to navigate this space. Propositions are tested in the field and with an online survey of New Orleans business and organizational leaders whose businesses and professional networks, and physical environments, were affected by Hurricane Katrina. The dissertation begins by establishing crisis as a context for transitional space. Next, an examination of social network theory and constitutive communication using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) provide the theoretical framework for the study. Data were analyzed using a combination of grounded theory and social network analysis. Patterns of communication and social structure emerged that reflect a two-stage transitional space, which is marked by an altered macro-structure and dysfunctional communication infrastructure. Resource exchange and reconnecting with previous network members drives initial communication in a transitional space. This communication is facilitated by an alternative communication infrastructure developed by business leaders through the use of ICTs. Findings from this study further understanding of the lifecycle of networks by providing a longitudinal view of network development, as well as further network research in areas such as disaster recovery and organizational crisis. Theoretical implications include an emphasis on the importance of drawing a distinction between interaction and communication in social networks, as well as a theoretical context for the interplay of communication and structure following a disaster. The importance of ICTs in repairing communication infrastructures, as well as the importance of helping organizations in facilitating trust and collective action, both have theoretical and applied implications for social networks and disaster recovery.