Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW)

, Volume 21, Issue 4–5, pp 397–415 | Cite as

The Management and Use of Social Network Sites in a Government Department

  • John RooksbyEmail author
  • Ian Sommerville


In this paper we report findings from a study of social network site use in a UK Government department. We have investigated this from a managerial, organisational perspective. We found at the study site that there are already several social network technologies in use, and that these: misalign with and problematize organisational boundaries; blur boundaries between working and social lives; present differing opportunities for control; have different visibilities; have overlapping functionality with each other and with other information technologies; that they evolve and change over time; and that their uptake is conditioned by existing infrastructure and availability. We find the organisational complexity that social technologies are often hoped to cut across is, in reality, something that shapes their uptake and use. We argue the idea of a single, central social network site for supporting cooperative work within an organisation will hit the same problems as any effort of centralisation in organisations. Fostering collective intelligence in organisations is therefore not a problem of designing the right technology but of supporting work across multiple technologies. We argue that while there is still plenty of scope for design and innovation in this area, an important challenge now is in supporting organisations in managing what can best be referred to as a social network site ‘ecosystem’.

Key words

Fieldwork Government Organisations Public administration Social network sites Web2.0 


  1. Boyd, D., & Ellison, N. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), 210–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Brzozowski, M. (2009). Watercooler: Exploring an organisation through enterprise social media. In Proceedings of Group 2009: pp. 95–104.Google Scholar
  3. Button, G. (2000). The ethnographic tradition and design. Design Studies, 21(4), 319–332.MathSciNetCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chang, E., & West, M. (2006). Digital ecosystems. A next generation of the collaborative environment. In Proceedings of iiWAS’2006. Yogyakarta, Indonesia, pp. 3–24.Google Scholar
  5. Convertino, G., Grasso, A., DiMicco J., De Michelis G., Chi, E. D. (2010). Workshop on collective intelligence in organizations: Towards a research agenda, 2010. ACM CSCW.Google Scholar
  6. DiMicco, J. M., & Millen, D. R. (2007). Identity management: Multiple presentations of self in facebook. In Proceedings of Group 2007: pp. 383–386.Google Scholar
  7. DiMicco, J. M., Millen, D. R., Geyer, W., Dugan, C., Brownholtz, B., Muller, M. (2008). Motivations for social networking at work. In Proceedings of CSCW 2008: ACM Press, pp. 711–720.Google Scholar
  8. Dunleavy, P., & Margetts, H. (2010). The second wave of digital era governance. In Proceedings of the American Political Science Association Conference, 4 September 2010. Washington DC, USA.Google Scholar
  9. Eggers, W. (2005). Government 2.0. New York: Rowman and Littlefield.Google Scholar
  10. Fang, Z. (2002). E-Government in digital era: Concept, practice and development. International Journal of the Computer, 10(2), 1–22.Google Scholar
  11. Fu, A., Finn, C., Rasmus, D. W., & Salkowitz, R. (2009). Social computing in the enterprise. Microsoft vision for business leaders. Redmond WA: Microsoft Corporation.Google Scholar
  12. Holtzblatt, L., Damianos, L., & Weiss, D. (2010). Factors impeding wiki use in the enterprise: A case study. In CHI Extended Abstracts 2010, pp. 4661–4676.Google Scholar
  13. Kuhn, S. (2008). SelectMinds abstract for CSCW 2008 workshop: Social networking in organisations. In Proceedings of the Workshop on Social Networking in Organizations, CSCW 2008.Google Scholar
  14. Lampe, C., Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C. (2008). Changes in the perception and use of facebook. In Proceedings of CSCW 2008. pp. 721–730.Google Scholar
  15. Malone, T. W. (2006). What is collective intelligence and what will we do about it? edited transcript of remarks at the official launch of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence October 13, 2006. Unpublished transcript.
  16. Malone, T. W., & Klein, M. (2007). Harnessing collective intelligence to address global climate change. Innovations: Technology, Governance, Globalization, 2(3), 15–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. McAfee, A. E. (2006). Enterprise 2.0: The dawn of emergent collaboration. MIT Sloan Management Review, 47(3), 21–28.Google Scholar
  18. McGonigal, J. (2007). Why I love bees: A case study in collective intelligence gaming. In K. Salen (Ed.), The ecology of games: Connecting youth, games, and learning (pp. 199–227). Cambridge MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  19. McGovern, M. (2010). On collective unintelligence. In T. J. Bastiaens, U. Baumöl, & B. J. Krämer (Eds.), On collective intelligence (pp. 1–11). Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Nardi, B., & O’Day, V. (1998). Information ecologies. Using technologies with heart. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  21. Nardi, B., Whittaker, S., & Schwarz, H. (2002). NetWORKers and their activity in intensional networks. The Journal of Computer-supported Cooperative Work, 11(1–2), 205–242.Google Scholar
  22. Obama, B. (2008). Transparency and open government. Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies. Unpublished memorandum.Google Scholar
  23. Osimo, D. (2008). Web 2.0 in government: Why and how? technical report. Seville, Spain: European Commission Joint Research Centre.Google Scholar
  24. Page, E. C. (2005). Joined-up government and the civil service. In V. Bogdanor (Ed.), Joined up government (pp. 139–155). Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Richter, A., & Koch, M. (2008). Challenges of the use of social networking services in (German) enterprises. In Proceedings of the Workshop on Social Networking in Organizations, CSCW 2008.Google Scholar
  26. Romeo, P. (2008). The D street case study. In Proceedings of the Workshop on Social Networking in Organizations, CSCW 2008.Google Scholar
  27. Schuler, D. (2001). Cultivating society’s civic intelligence: Patterns for a new “world brain”. Information and Communication and Society, 4(2), 157–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Skeels, M., & Grudin, J. (2009). When social networks cross boundaries: A case study of workplace use of facebook and LinkedIn. In Proceedings of Group 2009: pp. 95–104.Google Scholar
  29. Smith, J. B. (1994). Collective intelligence in computer-based collaboration. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  30. Star, S. L. (1999). The ethnography of infrastructure. American Behavioural Scientist, 43, 377–391.Google Scholar
  31. Star, S. L., & Griesemer, J. R. (1989). Institutional ecology, ‘Translations’ and boundary objects. Social Studies of Science, 19(3), 387–420.Google Scholar
  32. Star, S. L., & Ruhleder, K. (1994). Steps towards an ecology of infrastructure: Complex problems in design and access for large-scale collaborative systems. In Proceedings of CSCW94: ACM Press, pp. 253–264.Google Scholar
  33. Williams, N. (2008). Template twitter strategy for Government Departments. Unpublished Government Report.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Computer ScienceUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK

Personalised recommendations