Enterprise Social Media Users’ Typology: a Bi-dimensional Classification

Kathrin Kirchner, Rasmus Jørgensen, Ettore Bolisani, Enrico Scarso

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The use of Enterprise Social Media (ESM) platforms is rapidly diffusing in the business context, as they are increasingly considered crucial for the future competition. In particular, as commonly underlined by scholars, ESM can bring substantial benefits to companies and especially to their knowledge management (KM) processes. However, such benefits can materialize only if the active use and contribution by individual employees to ESM are ensured. Therefore, it is crucial to better understand how and how much an ESM platform is used by a company’s employees. This explains why the literature is devoting particular attention to the analysis of the level of participation and the type of activity performed by the users of such platforms. While “frequency of use” is the most considered dimension to classify different users’ groups, scholars also resort to other dimensions, as the distinction between passive and active users, sometimes called as “posters” and “lurkers”. The paper proposes a new typology of ESM users based on the results of a survey, which involved 262 employees of an international engineering project-based service company that has adopted an ESM platform. What emerged from the analysis of the survey data confirmed the existence of different types of ESM users and provided the empirical basis to develop a users’ typology based on two dimensions: frequency (high vs. low) of use and kind (active vs. passive) of use. This allowed identifying four different users’ groups (of different size but all populated), that were denoted as: “frequent contributors”, “sporadic contributors”, “frequent lurkers” and “sporadic lurkers”. Furthermore, applying descriptive statistics and variance analysis on the survey data allowed to verify the reasonableness of the proposed new typology and identify the main aspects that characterise the different users’ groups such as: position in the company, role inside the community, specific types of relevant knowledge sources, perceived usefulness, information novelty and satisfaction with the platform and the Community of Practice. The findings of the study have both academic and managerial implications. As regards the latter, managers should consider that different employees might behave differently with respect to new media, so that an undifferentiated approach to different behaviours may be ineffective. The main limitation of the study is
that only one company was analysed belonging to a particular sector with specific knowledge needs and capabilities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 15th International Forum on Knowledge Asset Dynamics (IFKAD)
Publication date2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event15th International Forum on Knowledge Asset Dynamics - Virtuel, Italy
Duration: 9 Sept 202011 Sept 2020


Conference15th International Forum on Knowledge Asset Dynamics


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