In recent years "Social Networking" is very popular in eyes of youngsters and teenagers but is also grabbing attention of older age. Social Networking Sites (SNS) have given a rise to new communication vehicle which facilitates an innovative way of sharing information, interacting and collaborating different users. Today, there are 204 social sites available in the world as shown in Appendix 1, but out of all the most popular once are 'Facebook', 'LinkedIn', 'Twitter', 'MySpace' and 'Blogs'.
Within the illumination of the global recession, organisations are using every possible means of equipment to survive the economic downturn; companies are implementing cost saving methods this in turn have increased the workload on the employees. This overload will give a rise to the concern of employee's satisfaction, productivity and efficiency. One way of encouraging and motivating the employees can be by accepting social networking at the workplace.
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dynamic changing natures of the business environment have contributed to knock down the barriers obstructing communicational flows (Cross, Nohria, & Parker, 2002).
Implementation of social networking at workplace will provide both formal and informal interaction and will also help in knowledge enhancement and better communication. This will give a greater shift in culture of "Knowledge congregation" to "Knowledge contribution". Social networking is growing as fast as a computer virus, it is agreed that it is used for personal reasons but now-a-days it is used as educational, training and learning tools at the workplace.
As every coin have two sides, implementing social networking at workplace has its own advantages and disadvantages. Since there is no geographical restriction on sharing information, there are growing concerns for organisation for leakage, breach in security and privacy of the information. This rings the bell in everyone's mind whether it is appropriate to integrate social networking at workplace. This argument will be revisited in literature review section (section 3) of this report.
The research's major source of information will be through primary data collection such as conducting interviews, survey and questionnaires. Secondary source will also be used and the list is mentioned in section 4.1. Many general views have been given by different researchers on impact of social networking at workplace but very few research have been conduct in sectors such as technological. This research will be based on Multinational Corporation (MNC) which is an investment banking sector where no prior research has been conducted.
The report consists of 7 sections. The next section will discuss research objective, questions and boundaries in order to evade the uncertainty. This is followed by literature review in section 3 where previous research will be analysed. Research methodology and research limitation will be discussed in section 4 and 5 respectively, followed by the research time lines in section 6. The final section contains of conclusion.
2 Research Objective, Questions and Boundaries
2.1 Research Objective
The main purpose of this research is to critically examine the impact of social networking in a multinational corporation - investment bank. This will assist the organisation to recognise whether having access to the social networking sites at workplace will motivate the staff in enhancing their productivity or limiting these websites will demoralise the employees. It will also give a true and fair view of employees and employers perception of integrating social sites in working environment.
2.2 Research Questions
The research will provide answer to the following particular questions:
Will the use of social networking sites at workplace enhance the productivity?
What are the other advantages and disadvantages of using social networking sites at workplace?
2.3 Research Boundaries
Due to time constrain it is necessary to restrict research only to one multinational company and therefore the research will be an action based research. The company is a world's largest investment bank which has its presence in 74 countries. The research will be based on the company's head office located in London. The name of the company will not be disclosed due to confidential reasons and will be referred as Company 'X' throughout the research. The research will be based on three departments which are:
Each of the above mentioned departments will be analysed to identify the impact of social networking on flow of information in the departments and security levels desired for each of the departments.
3 Literature Review
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Many researchers have correctly said that the growing technology has twisted the traditional features of the workplace (Bennett, Owers, Pitt, & Tucker, 2010). This is due to integration of social sites and social media in the working environment which has broadened the view of the employees in the organisation. This has facilitated organisation to build up new networks, help employees to connect each other in different geographical location and time. It has also been argued that the growing importance of networking and socialising in modern days is becoming more flexible and dynamic day-by-day (Cross, Parker, Prusak, & Borgatti, 2001).
Boyd and Ellison have defined 'Social Networking Site' as web-based service that allows individuals to (Boyd & Ellison, 2008):
(1) Construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system,
(2) Articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection and
(3) View and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.
It is a technology which is used to support social networking. At workplace the social networking can be referred in two ways: external and internal social networking. The use of social networking sites such as 'Facebook', 'LinkedIn', 'MySpace' and so on at the workplace is known as external social networking. On the other hand, there are some organisations that have developed tools such as 'Beehive' at IBM, 'Watercooler' at HP which provided social networking within the organisation which is referred as internal social networking. Company 'X' uses 'Reuters' and 'Microsoft Office Communicator 2007' as the internal social networking tool and 'Facebook' as the external social networking at the workplace. This research will only focus on impact of external social networking.
3.2 Impact of Social Networking on Productivity
From past 5 years, social networking has sneaked into the business organisations due to the increased popularity and availability of social networking amongst office workers. (Shirky, 2008); (Tapscott & Williams, 2006). This has lead to informal connection in the organisation and has transformed the ways of the knowledge sharing within the companies.
The research done in 2008 by Skeels and Grudin has shown that around 37% of employees were using Facebook occasionally and about 17% were using it daily at workplace. Also around 50% of employees had their account on LinkedIn but only 4% were using it daily (Skeels & Grudin, 2009).
There is a significant increase in the number of user in Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networking site and employees are using these sites at workplace to a greater extent due to vast growth and demand in social networking. According to the ClearSwift publications in January 2011, the exposure to social networking invites many threats to the companies. The research highlights that 42% of U.K. office workers admitted discussing work-related issues via social networking applications and 83% of the office workers were using office resources to access social networking websites (ClearSwift, 2011).
The research conducted in companies such as Microsoft and IBM by different researchers has highlighted some of the benefits of using these social sites at workplace which are listed below (Skeels & Grudin, 2009); (DiMicco & Millen DR, 2007):
LinkedIn being a professional social networking site helps to maintain professional network.
LinkedIn and Facebook are often referred by employers for recruiting employees by reviewing peoples CV and other details such as profile pictures, details and post or comments.
Facebook was helpful for building and strengthening knot between colleagues and also maintain contacts with the ex-colleagues.
But the research has also shown some concern and worries about using these social sites at workplace which are listed below (Skeels & Grudin, 2009); (DiMicco & Millen DR, 2007):
Staff wasting time during working hours.
Disclosing confidential data.
Staff integrating professional and personal life.
Some senior managers felt that employees were crossing the status and power borders of the organisation.
Most of the company in UK have opposed the use of social networking at workplace and have banned these sites. However, Alan Calder have argued that blocking or restricting access to social networking site at workplace will demoralise the employees and make them less effective and productive (Calder, 2010).
Some research have shown that social networking sites have reduced productivity and have cost companies lose of about £1.38 billion annually (Manpower UK, 2010). Therefore, some companies are looking forward to strength the controls in the organisation. But companies need to be very careful in placing the controls. Since social networking has become an important part of every one's life and this has also been encouraged by the Smartphone's such as Blackberries, I-Phones and many more. If the social networking sites are completely banned at the workplace, employees tend to use gadgets such as Smartphone's to access social networking sites devoting less time to work eventually affecting their productivity. Therefore, employers need to weight the strengths and opportunities with weaknesses and threats to make a meaningful decision.
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Similar views have been shared by Jason and David (Fried & Hansson, 2010) that the organisation will not be able to achieve anything by limiting or banning the social network sites at workplace because the time which they are devoting to the social networking sites will not get convert to productive work but and employees will find some alternative sources to spend this time. The Trade Union Congress (TUC) claims that handling carefully and allowing internet access for staff during breaks can be valuable for employees and can help them develop I.T. skills (TUC, 2007). Company 'X' allows their employees to have access to Facebook and LinkedIn during working hours. The main report will throw lights on the benefits achieved by the employees with the use of these social sites in banking sector during working hours.
Apart from deteriorating and enhancing the productivity social networking sites are playing a major role for recruiting employees. Employers use various sites to check the background of the candidate by making a judgment on their post and photos uploaded on the sites. According to study conducted by Deloitte in 2009, 23% of companies were using social networking sites for hiring employees (Allen, Deloitte LLP 2009 Ethics & Workplace Survey results - Social networking and reputational risk in the workplace, 2009). Now-a-days, LinkedIn is popularly used for recommending friends or co-workers for jobs and recruiting staff. May be in near future it will be incorporate as an official site for recruiting in the organisation. But till now no evidence have been found that it is a reliable source for hiring people.
On the other hand there has been evidence that people are fired due to social networking site (write about wat jitu said as an example here). The other major concern of social networking is that it puts trust at workplace on stake. The survey conducted in Deloitte in 2010, highlights that only 34% of employees agree and 49% of employees disagree that social networking helps to build up the trust at workplace (Allen, Deloitte LLP 2010 Ethics & Workplace Survey - Trust in the workplace, 2010 ).
The other drawback of social networking in working environment is the security of the sensitive data
3.3 Other Impact of Social networking sites in the organisation
4 Research Methodology
The research will follow the inductive approach as it will highlight on developing a new theory after the data has been collect (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2009). The research will explore a new dimension of using social networking in a Multinational Company (MNC) for their business development in short term and long term and develop a good analysis based on the data collection as discussed below.
4.1 Data collection
In order to achieve the research objective and question (mentioned in section 2) the subsequent data collection methods will be followed:
Secondary Data Collection
The secondary data will be collected from press release and academic literature such as journals, white paper and publication from ClearSwift and ZDNet. The data collection will be qualitative data. Also the research conducted by other researcher in Microsoft and IBM, technological companies will act as a base for this research.
Primary Data Collection
The forms of primary data which will be collect are as below:
Face-to-face Interviews: Ten non-standardised face to face interview will be conducted split between Vice President (VP) and managers of three departments in company 'X'. This will help to analysis the role of social networking in the organisation for different departments giving different viewpoints and a better insight of the matter. The interviews will also help to generate qualitative data which will be transcribed but will not be recoded due to ethics of the company. The time line for conducting interview is specified in research timelines section (section 6).
Online Survey: Online survey will be conducted with the help of the website named 'Survey Monkey' which will help to give a holistic view of the organisation as the survey will be filled in by VP, managers and subordinates. The layout of the questionnaires which will be formed for online survey will fulfil all the main attributes of questionnaires as recommended by Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2009). This will provide quantitative data for analysis.
In order to improve the response rate of online survey, questionnaires and face-to-face interviews the recommendation from Bryman and Bell (2003) will be followed.
4.2 Analysis of Data
The quantitative data which will be collected through online survey will be analysed by using computer based software named 'Minitab 15'. The quantitative data will be divided in to two separate groups: categorical data and numerical data (Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, 2009). The survey and interview results will help to produce a comparison between three departments within the MNC under the research study. (Add more details of what kind of information can be achieved from this analysis)
5 Potential Problem and Pitfall
While undertaking the research following are the limitation and potential problem which are anticipated:
Poor response to interview: Face to face interview or telephonic interview will be conducted, which will not be recorded due to confidentiality. The respondents might be bias answering in socially desirable way.
Poor response to online questioner: Respond rate might be lower as online questioner because they are perceived to be spam. It would be difficult to determine whether respondents have understood the question correctly and have replied honestly.
Inadequate Sample: Since only one organisation will be examined and so there will be limited sample to be examined. However, the research will be useful because practical evidence will be provided.
6 Research Time lines
The research will start from 6th June 2011 and will commence till 12th September 2011. It will be conducted for 15 weeks as shown in Table 1 below:
Table 1: Research time lines