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Do You Know What I Know? A Shared Understandings Perspective on Text-Based Communication

Michael H. Dickey, Northern New Mexico College
Molly McLure Wasko, Florida State University
Katherine M. Chudoba, Utah State University
Jason Bennett Thatcher, Clemson University

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Originally published by Wiley-Blackwell. Publisher's PDF and HTML fulltext available through remote link.


This article illustrates how the hermeneutic analysis of text illuminates how shared understandings affect our interpretations of lean communication in distributed work environments. It is proposed that in contrast to the pessimistic conclusions of media richness theory that lean communication channels cannot support complex or equivocal work tasks, miscommunications are not the result of technology, but rather occur due to a lack of shared understandings among the individuals communicating. An illustrative case study based on fieldwork in franchise organizations is presented to demonstrate the possibilities for how the hermeneutic analysis of coherence, invention, intention, and reference can be used to discover how workers create and recreate shared understandings through text.

Suggested Citation

Dickey, M., Wasko, M., Chudoba, K., Thatcher, J. (2006). Do you know what I know? Interpreting Text in Distributed Work Environments. Journal of Computer-mediated Communication, 12(1): 66-87.