As social networking becomes more popular, corporations and businesses are attempting to devise effective organizational policies that guide employees through the digital domain. Conventional corporate wisdom typically prohibits or strictly governs leisure blogging and social networking while employees are on the company clock, but recent research emerging from Carnegie Mellon University suggests that this could inhibit knowledge sharing within the company, and thus have some negative impact on productivity.
The paper A Structural Model of Employee Behavioral Dynamics in Enterprise Social Media was written by researchers Yan Huang, a doctoral student at CMU’s H. John Heinz III College, Param Vir Singh, assistant professor of information systems at the David A. Tepper School of Business, and Anindya Ghose, associate professor of information operations and management sciences at NYU Stern. The team’s key finding was that when organizations place restrictions on workplace leisure blogging, online work-related knowledge sharing decreases.
“These findings hold interesting implications for organizational operations moving forward,” says Huang, who led many of the investigations that took place during the summer of 2010.
“We have shifted into a ‘knowledge economy’ where knowledge sharing among employees is extremely vital to an organization’s success,” Huang says. “If leisure blogging directly impacts work-related knowledge sharing, and perhaps productivity, organizations will no doubt begin developing policies that support that behavior.”
The dataset used by the team to conduct the research was provided by CMU’s iLab, an interdisciplinary research center consisting of faculty and students from Heinz College, the Department of Statistics, the Department of Machine Learning, the School of Computer Science and the Tepper School of Business. The focus of the center is to facilitate problem-driven research on IT management and policy.
“iLab is a really great initiative that fosters excellent industry relationships and provides extremely relevant datasets,” says Param Vir Singh, who is also a member of the iLab faculty.
He also notes an emerging and active community among iLab faculty and students. Singh believes the multidisciplinary nature of CMU plays an important role in the success of initiatives such as iLab and fosters interesting thought at the intersections of traditional research areas.
“I’ve found that researchers in the iLab are focused on ideas,” says Singh. “We’re not very concerned with how a particular research topic fits neatly in one domain or another, but rather whether or not the research can impact the fields of IT policy and management, and solve some real-world problems.”
More information about iLab can be found at http://heinz.cmu.edu/iLab.