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Wednesday, July 13 • 15:31 - 17:00
A review of research on social media use in organizations

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Location: PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 326, 
Goldsmiths, University of London, Building 2
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Contributor: Halvdan Haugsbakken, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway


Media scholars have systematically examined the implications of social media on society. The ways the same technology adopt into organizations is a more uncertain area of knowledge in organization studies. This aspect relates to that organization theorists prefer to engage into theorizing, than putting focus on how social media is actually used among people in organizational life. This leads to an emphasis on explaining what social media “is”, than painting a larger picture on how receptive organizations are to adopt the forces of digitalization.


Hence, the paper provides a research review of a large sample of empirical studies, which have examined how members in organizations use three social media services – blog, Social Network Sites and wikis. Based on an open coding strategy, the research review tries to establish common user patterns for use of social media in organizational life.


To complete the research review, an open-ended literature research search was performed in bibliographic databases by use of search strings. The search and data analysis period lasted from January to May 2015 and yielded a final data sample of 105 research articles, covering scientific journals and conference papers evaluated to answer the paper’s problem complex.


The research review finds some overall user patterns for use of social media in organizations. Social media services are foremost used as a connecting site and knowledge repository. Here, wikis suggest to work as a successful knowledge repository. Employees use social media services to search and retrieve resources and communicate with people across internal organizational boundaries. For example, blogs and SNSs can enhance internal communication in organizations. But many studies also show barriers to adoption; blog and SNSs are often sustained by a core group and sharing is seen as challenging to perform in practice. SNSs are however seen as a platform that can cultivate social capital across organizational levels. To communicate externally, SNSs are typically used as a bulletin board, while employees are conscious on how they bond with peers internally in organizations. Wikis are often used as a collaborative tool and can be a suitable platform to support work processes, meaning that users are aware on their role performance.

In sum, the research review suggests that organizations attempt to ascertain basic knowledge on initial user patterns. Few studies report changes in organizational structures. Thus, social media has challenges in becoming sustainable. Rather, adopting social media in organizational life is an “uphill struggle” for those seeing it as beneficial. For many employees, social media represents another ICT that has to be learned. Therefore, one finds the common user pattern that a core group of users adopt the technology and maintain network activities, while a larger user group remain and use “older” ICTs. They remain in the email sphere and passively monitor the online content the core group shares.

Future Work: 

The research review will give suggestions for areas of future research and how practitioners and managers can use social media as part of their work practices. 

Wednesday July 13, 2016 15:31 - 17:00 UTC
PSH (Professor Stuart Hall Building) - 326 Goldsmiths University, Building 2

Attendees (6)