Creating and Sharing Knowledge through a Corporate Social Networking Site: The Impact of Employees' Perceptions on Effectiveness
This research investigates the perceptions of employees at South Winds (the pseudonym), a software engineering company, about using a corporate social networking site for sharing and generating knowledge. It focuses on understanding and explaining how the perceptions of employees from different organisational levels impacted on the usage of the social networking site. Methods of data collection included interviews and focus groups with C-level managers, middle managers and software engineers. Qualitative methods were used for analysing the collected data. Analysis drew on an extended Orlikowski and Gash's technological frames theory (1994) to identify five categories of perceptions relating to technology implementation and use. Applying the concept of framing in this study helped to surface specific areas within which divergence of perceptions occurred. Results showed significant divergences in perceptions about the corporate social networking site in 4 out of the 5 categories across the different levels of the organization. These divergences were found to have arisen largely as a result of information deficiencies. Furthermore, little understanding about the nature of the technology led top management to decide to use an adoption approach that discouraged knowledge sharing and creation through this tool. As a consequence, this study found that there appeared to be little likelihood of creating or sharing knowledge through the corporate social networking site under the observed implementation, although the corporate social networking site was widely perceived as a useful technology for sharing and creating knowledge. Recommendations for realizing potential benefits from using a corporate social networking site include developing plans for aligning organizational perceptions about the corporate social networking site and developing a suitable reward plan based on group performance in order to encourage the employees to create/share knowledge. The findings of this research suggest an extension of the Orlikowski and Gash's (1994) technological frames theory for knowledge management systems. This research also suggests that perceptions about different aspects of a technology may be arranged in a hierarchical chain. This would bring significant implications in designing and implementing technologies.