[Air-l] Listserve research

'Gail Taylor gdtaylor at uiuc.edu
Sun Sep 24 06:56:30 PDT 2006

Rosanna Tosario wrote: 

"There is a lot of fuss, and a lot of studies,
about "community", online as well as offline. The bottom line of what makes a community is participation in shared governance forms (any form). When groups form and especially *norm*, they create rules as well as procedures to create new rules and change old ones, ie governance. That's why I said that whenever there is a governance problem Tuckman can't 
be applied, in my opinion. If governance is problematic, there can be no norming."

First off, it can be argued that members of this listserve are members of a group. This listserve is institutionalized, and hosted by the Association of Internet Researchers. Officers of this organization are controlling processes related to making this online forum available to members of the association, and interested others. They are also controlling behavioral norms through the development of policies and procedures that guide participation in this forum. The actions of the officers are similar to their peers in other institutionalized settings, both educational and business, who are choosing to use Internet-based technologies to facilitate group formation processes. 

I was the person who first suggested that Tuckman's group formation stage theory was transferrable to online environments. It is widely used in educational and business settings, or institutionalized settings, as a way to understand group formation processes in online environments. 

I introduced Tuckman's theory at a time when members of this group were exhibiting behaviors of the norming stage. At that time, postings were being made by members suggesting officers should change policies governing the number of postings a person might make to the group on any given day. Prior to that time, the members of the group had gone through an extended performing stage without any major disruptions. There were some minor disruptions associated with a new member who chose to remain anonymous.

It has been suggested that the Fielding Model might be a better choice for assessing online group behaviors. This model is also one that is representative of an institutionalized approach. Here's a link to an overview of the model. Http://ciara.fiu.edu/pasi/publications/Sewell-Fielding_Model-PASI.pdf. It is one that implies group members are in control when in reality their actions are controlled by the institution.


Gail D. Taylor, M.Ed.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Human Resource Education Ph.D. Student
Educational Psychology Teaching Assistant

"We can't just have mainstream behavior
on television in a free society. We have
to make sure we see the whole panorama 
of human behavior." -- Jerry Springer

More information about the Air-L mailing list