A Model of Perceived Communication in Collective Networks



    1. Steven R. Carman is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication, Arizona State University, Tempe. The author would like to thank Dean Hewes, Bob Husband, Hussein Leblebici, Bob McPhee, and Scott Poole for their valuable advice and assistance on this project. Thanks also go to Steve Banks, Chuck Bantz, Michael Hecht, Mike Monsour, and two anonymous reviewers for their astute comments on an earlier version of this article.
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Often, past research on communication networks has assumed that perceptions of communication are isomorphic with observable communicative behaviors. If this assumption is invalid, as recent evidence suggests, then a description of the structure of participants’ perceptions is vital to attempts to link perceptions to observable communication. This study tests a descriptive model of perceptions of communication relationships between members of collectives. These perceptions are hypothesized to be the result of formal structure, collective interests, and individual interests. Linear models based on these ideas were tested in high and low uncertainty collectives, in which they accounted for 38% and 45% of the variance in perceived frequency of communication, respectively. Lack of predicted differences between the two organizations suggests that the structure of perceived communication relationships may be similar across organizations, whereas structure in observable communication may be the result of the way those relationships are activated.