Using Social Media The Inside Out: A qualitative study of four different local models for organizing social media in organizations
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The research focus has been to understand how social media is used, interpreted and is part of social practice among a variety of people who work in organizations affiliated to the Norwegian Public Sector, research defined to capture technology initiatives during the period 2008-14. Organization researchers have limited knowledge on how social media is used in organizations, leading to calls for increased research. The study is an answer to fill that knowledge gap. The thesis is inspired by organizational perspectives on how technology is implemented in organizations. While the field has used “top-down perspectives” to understand technology implementation - which means that implementation is understood on the premise that ICTs are “pushed down” in the organizational hierarchy – this study takes a different analytical path. The study argues for a model approach and is inspired by the research works of Wanda Orlikowski. The model perspective tries to capture the impact of technology end-users’ intimate interaction with social media’s material and immaterial aspects, increasingly allows for the construction of local organizings by processes of interpretation and practices springing from lifeworlds. This is an attempt to use bottom-up perspectives and capture the dynamics on how social media accelerates emergent social structures of technology use in organizations. This argument is exemplified across four case stories. These show how four user groups - a group of students, a teacher, a municipal competence group in social media and a group of county employees - use and interpret social media in three different organizations, a high school, a city municipality and a county administration. Each case story also describes how local use contradicts or corresponds with institutional views on ICT use. The first case story describes the model “the shadow student learning ecology”. It shows how a group of students at a high school uses Facebook and YouTube to organize formal and informal learning. The second case story portrays the model “authentic learning situations.” Here, we are introduced to how a teacher decided to put the textbook aside and how she tried to motivate her students to use social media to learn a foreign language. The case study illustrates how the teacher made a digital teaching practices and the experiences of enacting it in a classroom setting. The third case story analyzes the model “relation platforms”. Here, the work of a municipal competence group in social media - a “beta”, is analyzed. The case study describes how the Beta Group members constructed an understanding of social media and how they adapted it to a municipality's activities. The fourth case story analyzes the model “2.0 Social Intranet Platform”. The case story explains how a county administration abolished its old Intranet and implemented a new social intranet. The main focus is on understanding the challenges of establishing a “sharing culture” in a county administration. The study used a qualitative and explorative research design.