Decision-making and social media: The integration of social media technologies into collective judgment and decision-making processes in organizational business environments

Kehl, Dieter (2017) Decision-making and social media: The integration of social media technologies into collective judgment and decision-making processes in organizational business environments. PhD thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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Organizations are continuously confronted with decision-making in their daily business practice. Information technology plays a key role, supporting and automating decision-making processes, enabling the flow and distribution of information and knowledge and enhancing collaboration and exchange across the entire organization. Both, decision-making and information technology combine social and technological aspects of collaboration and collective action within a socio-economic system. Social media technologies such as corporate social networks, collaborative projects, instant messengers, content sharing platforms, blogs, micro-blogs, rating and voting systems, influence how human beings collaborate, build communities, exchange information, and jointly create content. This thesis combines aspects of social and behavioural science, collective decision-making and information technology into a qualitative research project. The main objective of this thesis was to explore and to gain a deep understanding of the implications of the integration of social media technologies to enhance collective judgement and the complex decision-making processes within corporate and less formal contexts. Therefore, this research identified real, potential and perceived benefits, disadvantages and barriers of social media integration in collective decision-making processes. The outcome focusses on evidence to establish whether social media technologies are capable of advancing the collective decision-making process. This study applied an exploratory qualitative research approach, which incorporated semi-structured interviews, multiple case studies and documentary data. Three case studies built the foundation of the field research conducted over a period of nine months, resulting in thirty semi-structured interviews. For each investigated site, ten individuals from various departments and different roles participated in thirty to forty minutes, semi-structured interviews recorded at their premises. Documents shared by the interviewees such as internal presentations, videos, meeting minutes and communication notes added to the overall data set. The key findings can be divided into three focus areas, (a) social media within a business environment and organizational readiness, (b) social media and collective action in business such as mass collaboration and problem solving and (c) social media integrated in collective decision-making derived from the benefits, disadvantages and barriers identified. Real benefits surfaced in the area of communication, interaction, involvement, reproducibility, aggregation and the independence of physical presence. From a communication perspective, the decision-making process benefits from utilizing different channels to convey and present information. These communication channels facilitate synchronous and asynchronous interaction, engaging different parties such as stakeholders, committees, experts, management and other participants in the process. Since the information created is continuously captured and stored, social media adds the benefit of reproducibility to the collective decision-making process. Rating and voting functions aggregate thoughts, opinions, and monitor, at an early stage of the process, tendencies and reflective developments in the group. Finally, rating and voting mechanisms build a collective choice acknowledged by a majority of a business collective. Social media relieves the requirement of physical presence in a collective decision-making process utilizing the corporate Intranet and the Internet. This adds flexibility to the selection of the participants and provides a basis of employee engagement from small to large-scale endeavours. Potential benefits relate to some extent to the explored real benefits. They focus on motivation of social interaction and collaboration, building relationships, enhancing the flow of information and fostering a reflective culture capable of collectively solving problems. From an organizational behaviour perspective, these benefits are capable of stimulating employees to engage in organizational topics, and utilizing organizational intelligence by sharing knowledge and experience to support collective decision-making. Perceived benefits include enhanced communication, interaction, involvement, and acceptance, variety of opinions, engaging employees in collective actions and integrating experts. Perceived disadvantages concentrated around social interaction. They manifested as distraction, losing focus on objectives, biased information, and loss of control, opinion manipulation, information overload and a less formal nature of the process. Barriers were identified in the area of abuse of personal information, additional workload in the daily business, unclear benefits, refusal to share knowledge, lack of trust about the information created and presented, manipulation of opinions, and continuous availability. The results of the thesis provided the evidence that utilization and integration of social media in the collective decision-making process depend on organizational readiness, which relates to the context. Social media application differs from the application in the Internet since social conformity, cohesion and internal competition influence participation and outcome. This means, the ability to integrate employees in collective action and the utilization of social media requires, besides acceptance of the new technology, a culture of openness, and willingness to share, engage and contribute. Therefore, this research suggests, from a managerial perspective, focussing on collective action capabilities, utilizing social media as an enabler to connect employees, to stimulate interaction, participation, and capture and support the information flow during a decision-making process. Recommendations for future research suggest analysing organizations in longitudinal studies to explore how they gain advantage of collective action concerning aggregation of knowledge using social media as a platform.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social Media; Business communications; Decision-making
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management > HD58 Organizational behavior, change and effectiveness. Corporate culture
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business > HF5717 Business communication
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Business, Computing and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2018 15:39
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2023 14:56

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