Sociometric analysis of informal communication among Indian satellite technologists

Sridhar, M. S. Sociometric analysis of informal communication among Indian satellite technologists. Library Science with a slant to Documentation and Information Studies, 1998, vol. 25, n. 2, pp. 78-111. [Journal article (Paginated)]


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English abstract

By and large, librarianship seems to have ignored the informal communication flourishing among their clientele. Informal communication both within and with outside the organisation and various informal and interpersonal sources of information are found to play crucial role in the work of an engineer/ technologist. Some of the reasons for such an importance of informal communication for an engineer are discussed. A study of interpersonal communication looks at the 'transceiver' role of an engineer and leads to inquire into his information potential and identification of communication networks, their characteristics like density, connectedness, centrality and cluster, communication stars, isolates and technological gatekeepers. The informal and interpersonal communication among a defined set of over 800 Indian satellite technologists is investigated by sociometric analysis of the number of persons they regularly contact for work related information and with the names of five most often contacted persons provided in response to a questionnaire. The intra and inter-organisation communication of respondents and their relation with some characteristics of respondents are examined. A sociometric analysis of up to five most often contacted persons named by the respondents revealed that 391 respondents mentioned 515 individuals/organisations 1538 times. As much as 87% of contacts within the organisation and the rest represented inter-organisation communication. An average satellite technologists found to be simultaneously a source of information for about 3 others in the response population (connectedness of the network). The analysis helped identification of communication stars or high information potentials (HIPs), isolates and technological gatekeepers. An examination of dyadic reflexive communication revealed existence of a cluster and some linking pins in the network. Further, similarities and dissimilarities of participants of dyadic communication are also analysed.

Item type: Journal article (Paginated)
Keywords: inter-personal communication, sociometric analysis, informal communication, communication stars, invisible college, technological gate keeper, satellite technologists, space engineers
Subjects: B. Information use and sociology of information > BG. Information dissemination and diffusion.
Depositing user: M S Sridhar
Date deposited: 11 Sep 2007
Last modified: 02 Oct 2014 12:09


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26. An Index of professional activities and achievements of the respondents is developed based on activities like papers published, patents held, conferences attended, tours, lectures delivered, etc.

27. Contrary to expectation women and men respondents did not differ significantly in number of persons contacted regularly for information within the organisation (X2-4.89, df, 0.10 “Information and Communication Behaviour of Woman Space Technologists” R&D Management, 17 No. 4 (Oct. 1987) p.301-409. p. >0.05) vide SRIDHAR M. J.

28. Again as found in intra-organisational contacts, women and men respondents did not differ in number of interpersonal contacts outside the organisation (X2.=4.89, df=2, 0.10 > p >0.05) vide SRIDHAR M. J.

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30. It is interesting to note that 13 women space technologists were mentioned as most frequently contacted persons for information 22 times (average 1.69) and 410 men space technologists are mentioned as most frequently contacted persons for information 1241 times (average 3.03). Further as many as 48 out of 61 women space technologists in the population (i.e., 78.7%) are not considered as one of the five most frequently contacted persons for information by any of the 391 respondents. This shows a substantial difference in the information potentiality for interpersonal communication between men and women in the given environment. In other words, the information potential of women space technologists in the informal communication structure/ network is limited. There appears to be an inhibition on the part of men to contact women colleagues for information even though women are intrinsically information potential as they have all other information related activities almost on par with men. Women space technologists apparently appear low information potentials in the sociometric analysis possibly due to socio-cultural background vide SRIDHAR cp.cit.

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32. The stars or gatekeepers could not be clearly identified by both Shuchman and Raitt in their recent studies.

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34. The average professional activities and achievements index values of communication stars and nonstars respectively are 23.8 and 7.6.

35. BETHELL, op.cit, p.72

36. The library use index and library interaction index are also developed in the study for each user.

37. A relation between elements ‘a’ and ‘b’ is reflexive if ‘b’ chooses ‘a’ whenever ‘a’ chooses ‘b’. For background details of concepts of relations, any fundamental book onset theory or the first pan of following paper may be seen. M. S. Sridhar, “A Mathematical Approach to Relations in Thesauri”, Journal of Library and Information Science, 5, No.1 (Jun. 1980), 77-79.

38. Section is a narrower concept than division in the organisation structure, i.e., a division has one or more sections within it.

39. ‘Linking Pin’ concept is originally propounded by Rensis Lickert vide Rensis Lickert, “Motivational Approach to Organisations” In M. Haire ed. Modern Organisational Theory (New York: Wiley), 1959), p. 194.

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44. Specialisation refers to specialisation in highest degree (eg. physics, electronics, etc) whereas field of activity is more related to work and much narrower and/or interdisciplinary in nature.

45. Ibid. pp. 163-164.

46. BETHELL, Communications in an International Research Laboratory, op.cit, p. 47.

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48 . Ibid, p.41 (Table 2.6).


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