Authors, Title and Publication

Treem, J. W., Dailey, S. L., Pierce, C. S., & Leonardi, P. M. (2015). Bringing technological frames to work: How previous experience with social media shapes the technology’s meaning in an organization. Journal of Communication65(2), 396-422.

This study examines the expectations that workers have regarding enterprise social media (ESM). ESM is increasingly being adopted for internal communication among workers in recent years. Scholars have argued that ESM not only has the potential to support more transparent and open communication among workers but also facilitate greater knowledge sharing in the workplace. Using interviews with 58 employees at an organization implementing an ESM platform, the authors compared perceptions of social media held by employees to their frames about other communication technologies that are used primarily at work. They also examined user responses to the potential and actual implementation of an ESM platform in their organization.

Results show that individuals’ frames regarding expectations and assumptions of social media are established through activities outside work settings and influence employees’ views about the usefulness of ESM. Workers’ age and level of personal social media use influence their perception of ESM. Specifically, younger individuals and those who had used social media heavily outside of work were largely skeptical about the potential usefulness of the technology within work, and were unwilling to engage with the technology when it was implemented. Older workers and those who did not have significant experience with social media outside of work were largely optimistic about the potential usefulness of ESM. Although both groups mentioned how social media could provide more open communication, greater sharing, and increased connections, skeptical employees saw this as a potential distraction or threat in organizations and thought the personal and expressive social media is inappropriate for task-oriented behaviors; optimistic employees viewed ESM as an opportunity or asset for organizational activities and for improving work.

Implications for Practice

Organizations should 1) be cautious when comparing existing social media technologies outside of work and ESM since the purposes and contexts of technology use are different; 2) consider discussing desired behaviors related to technology use (e.g., knowledge sharing and expertise exchange) instead of explicitly using the label “social media” since technological frames formed outside the workplace could make it difficult for workers to shift frames to an organizational context.

Location of Article

The article is available online at:  (abstract free, purchase full article)


Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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