Connect Me! Antecedents and Impact of Social Connectedness in Enterprise Social Software

Abstract

Companies are increasingly adopting social software to support collaboration and networking. Although increasing their employees’ connectedness is a major driver for organizations to deploy enterprise social software (ESS), the social connectedness concept itself is still not sufficiently defined and conceptualized. The study therefore provides a richer perspective on social connectedness’s role in an ESS context. The authors thus investigate (1) social connectedness’s antecedents and (2) its impact on employees’ individual performance. With a survey-based investigation among 174 employees of an international business software provider headquartered in Germany, the authors show that both reputation and a critical mass significantly influence employees’ social connectedness. The authors further find that reputation’s effect is significantly stronger than critical mass’s effect and that social connectedness influences employees’ individual performance positively. The findings are discussed in the light of psychological studies and deduce implications for theory and practice.

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Fig. 1
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Notes

  1. 1.

    The literature also refers to these platforms as enterprise social media (e.g., Leonardi et al. 2013), enterprise social networking systems (e.g., Fulk and Yuan 2013), or enterprise social software platforms (e.g., Kügler et al. 2012).

  2. 2.

    Reviewing the current body of knowledge on social connectedness and related concepts, we found that the literature refers to the social connectedness concept in diverse ways, such as belongingness [e.g., Baumeister and Leary 1995), closeness (e.g., Suh et al. 2011; Wu et al. 2010], informal social relations (e.g., Jansen et al. 2006), and relationship building (e.g., Krasnova et al. 2010). For the sake of consistency, we use the term social connectedness throughout this study.

  3. 3.

    The literature also refers to this concept as image (e.g., Moore and Benbasat 1991), recognition (e.g., Jeppesen and Frederiksen 2006), social image (e.g., Lin and Bhattacherjee 2010), online identity (e.g., Donath 1999), and self-expression/self-representation (e.g., Goffman 1959). For the sake of consistency, we use the term reputation throughout this study.

  4. 4.

    The literature also refers to this concept as visibility (e.g., Karahanna et al. 1999), or others’ use (e.g., Compeau et al. 2007). For the sake of consistency, we use the term critical mass throughout this study.

  5. 5.

    Please note that this concept measures the impact that ESS use has on an individual’s performance [see Goodhue and Thompson (1995), Iivari (2005), and Sundaram et al. (2007) for similar conceptualizations of performance outcome variables].

  6. 6.

    The specific procedures followed as well as the results of these exercises, are available from the authors on request.

  7. 7.

    The results of the pre-study are available from the authors on request.

  8. 8.

    The results of the exploratory factor analysis are available from the authors on request.

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Correspondence to Dr. Maurice Kügler.

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Kügler, M., Dittes, S., Smolnik, S. et al. Connect Me! Antecedents and Impact of Social Connectedness in Enterprise Social Software. Bus Inf Syst Eng 57, 181–196 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12599-015-0379-z

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Keywords

  • Enterprise social software
  • Social connectedness
  • Impact of IS use
  • Individual performance
  • Reputation
  • Critical mass
  • Survey-based research