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Dispersed Social Work: Understanding Social Presence and Organizational Identification Through The Use of New Communication Technologies Open Access

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Abstract of the Dissertation Dispersed Social Work: Understanding Social Presence and Organizational Identification Through the Use of New Communication Technologies This phenomenological study examined how dispersed social workers experience interactions through new communication technology as periods of social presence with their centralized coworkers and supervisors. Additionally, this study sought to understand how interaction via new communication technology facilitates increased organizational identification among dispersed social workers. The conceptual framework focused on social presence and organizational identification theories as well as dispersed work within the context of social work. Eleven participants engaged in semistructured, open-ended interviews, and data were analyzed according to Moustakas' (1994) phenomenological analysis reduction method. As a result, five themes and several connected elements emerged. The five themes were social presence, increased organizational identification (OI), lowered OI, advantages of dispersed social work, and challenges to dispersed social work. Based on the themes and textural and structural descriptions, there were five findings that answered the two overarching research questions: What is the dispersed social worker's experience of interaction through new communication technology as periods of social presence with his or her centralized coworkers and supervisors? What is the dispersed social worker's experience of interaction via new communication technology as the facilitation of organizational identification? Those findings were as follows:1. Dispersed social workers do not experience interactions through new communication technology as periods of social presence with their centralized coworkers.2. There are mixed experiences of interaction through new communication technology as periods of social presence with supervisors.3. Interaction via new communication technology facilitated a varied sense of organizational identification based on the affective, communication, and cognitive components that encompass OI.4. Dispersed social workers' affective and communicative OI is contingent upon the frequency and type of communication with coworkers (centralized and dispersed) and supervisor.5. Lack of or negative interaction with centralized coworkers negatively impacted cognitive OI.Based upon the findings, conclusions were drawn, and implications and recommendations for theory, research, and practice were discussed.

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