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Adoption of social networking sites: an exploratory adaptive structuration perspective for global organizations

Abstract

This research assesses the strategic adoption of social media by large global organizations. To contribute to a better understanding of the topic, this exploratory study analyzed social networking sites used by 72 large global companies, and conducted a survey and follow-up interviews with high-level managers from these companies. Our analysis of social networking sites identifies and characterizes the types of social media used, as well as the various organizational purposes for the use of social media. Our exploratory survey and interviews yielded a deeper level of understanding of the adoption of social networking sites by organizations. We employed management fashion theory and adaptive structuration theory to characterize the ways in which advanced information technology can bring about organizational change. Our findings indicate that there is an increased use of social media and social networking sites by organizations that results in the form of passive or active, proactive or reactive, and tactical or strategic uses.

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Acknowledgments

The authors thank the special editors, Rob Kauffman and Angsana Techatassanasoontorn, and the four anonymous reviewers who provided many constructive comments and suggestions.

Author information

Correspondence to Jollean K. Sinclaire.

Appendices

Appendix 1

See Table 1.

Table 1 Observations of usage of social networking sites and derived purpose

Appendix 2

See Table 2.

Table 2 Social networking sites used by company and industry group

Appendix 3

See Table 3.

Table 3 Use of social networking sites by company and industry group

Appendix 4: Adoption of social networking sites

  1. 1.

    Which industry sector best describes your company?

  2. 2.

    Total company revenue (sales) in fiscal 2009?

  3. 3.

    Total number of employees (company-wide) in 2009?

  4. 4.

    In your company’s management structure, what is your management level?

  5. 5.

    What is your functional area of responsibility?

  6. 6.

    About how long has your company used social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, etc.) for marketing, advertising, or any other particular purpose?

    1. a.

      More than 6 years

    2. b.

      5–6 years

    3. c.

      3–4 years

    4. d.

      1–2 years

    5. e.

      Less than 1 year

    6. f.

      Not currently using

  7. 7.

    Does your company have staff members dedicated to providing social media (SM) services or gathering information from and/or analyzing social networking sites? (For example, SM content developer, SM site analyst, SM technical support, SM manager.)

    1. a.

      10 or more staff members

    2. b.

      5–9 staff members

    3. c.

      2–4 staff members

    4. d.

      1 staff member

    5. e.

      We do not have staff dedicated only to social media/socian networking sites

    6. f.

      We retain consultants for this purpose

  8. 8.

    Which of the following social networking sites is your company using now or have used in the past? (Use Now; Used in Past, Not Using Now; Never Used; Not Sure)

    1. a.

      Facebook g. Bebo

    2. b.

      LinkedIn h. Buzznet

    3. c.

      MySpace i. PartnerUp

    4. d.

      Twitter j. Plaxo

    5. e.

      YouTube k. StumbleUpon

    6. f.

      Flickr l. Yammer

  9. 9.

    Are there other social networking sites that your company is using now? List below.

  10. 10.

    How does your company use social networking sites? (No, Yes, Not Sure)

    1. a.

      To provide customer service

    2. b.

      To provide technical support

    3. c.

      To promote a product/service or brand

    4. d.

      To get input to produce/service improvement, development, design

    5. e.

      To build external communities of interest

    6. f.

      To build internal communities of employees

    7. g.

      To educate customers on specific topics or technologies

    8. h.

      To promote a social cause

    9. i.

      Other (please specify)

  11. 11.

    WHY does your company use social networking sites? (No, Yes, Not Sure)

    1. a.

      Because it is cost effective

    2. b.

      Because our customers/competitors/suppliers are using social networking sites

    3. c.

      To observe and collect information

    4. d.

      To host or sponsor communities (create/manage Web sites and advertising)

    5. e.

      To provide content to communities (music, information, entertainment)

    6. f.

      To participate as members of online communities

    7. g.

      To seed communities with product advocates

    8. h.

      To connect with the new generation of social media users

  12. 12.

    Has your company’s use of social networking sites changed in the past 12 months? (No, Yes, Not Sure)

    1. a.

      Using social networking sites in new ways

    2. b.

      Using additional social networking sites

    3. c.

      Added staff dedicated to social networking sites

    4. d.

      Added budget or increased budget for social networking sites

    5. e.

      Hired a social media agency or consultant

    6. f.

      Other

  13. 13.

    How likely is your company to re-evaluate and/or change a company policy or business practice based on consumer actions taken on social networking sites?

    1. a.

      Not at all likely

    2. b.

      Slightly likely

    3. c.

      Moderately likely

    4. d.

      Very likely

    5. e.

      Completely likely

These questions use a 5-point Likert-type scale from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree:

  1. 14.

    Social networking sites give customers MORE INFLUENCE over:

    1. a.

      Product/service advertising

    2. b.

      Product/service design

    3. c.

      Produce/service promotion

    4. d.

      Product/service pricing

    5. e.

      Product/service support

  2. 15.

    Our company is LIKELY TO MAKE CHANGES in the following based on information collected at social networking sites:

    1. a.

      Product/service advertising

    2. b.

      Product/service design

    3. c.

      Produce/service promotion

    4. d.

      Product/service pricing

    5. e.

      Product/service support

  3. 16.

    The use of social networking sites can help increase revenues and reduce costs in:

    1. a.

      Customer service

    2. b.

      Product/service advertising

    3. c.

      Product/service design

    4. d.

      Produce/service promotion

    5. e.

      Product/service support

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Sinclaire, J.K., Vogus, C.E. Adoption of social networking sites: an exploratory adaptive structuration perspective for global organizations. Inf Technol Manag 12, 293–314 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10799-011-0086-5

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Keywords

  • Adaptive structuration theory
  • Exploratory research
  • Field study
  • Interviews
  • Management fashion theory
  • Organizational change
  • Social media
  • Social networks