Workshop E

Organizations and Social Network Sites

  • Charles Steinfield, Michigan State University, steinfie AT
  • Marleen Huysman, VU University Amsterdam, mhuysman AT


Social network sites (SNS) are increasingly being used in organizational settings to improve relationships among employees and enhance prospects for information exchange and cooperative work.  The bulk of the research on SNS, however, focuses on their use by young people and students. While this work has produced significant insights into user behaviors and impacts of SNS use, more work that takes into account the organizational context is needed. Hence, this workshop will bring together researchers examining SNS use in organizations.

SNS use in organizational settings may differ in important ways from student use. For example, people using a workplace SNS may use it in more instrumental and goal oriented ways, based on organizational requirements. There may be less uninhibited humor and playful content, less self-disclosure and self-presentation, depending on the organizational cultural context, if users know that supervisors are viewing SNS interactions. Information sharing may be more difficult due to concerns about proprietary data. These differences may lead to different outcomes from SNS use in organizational settings than have been observed among students and young people.

Studies of SNS use in the workplace suggest that this is an emerging and fertile area of work that is beginning to attract a community of researchers. Case studies of Facebook and LinkedIn use in the workpace reveal the tensions that are created when work and home networks collide. Among the awkward situations generated by what is coming to be known as “context collapse” are when competing clients friend the same salesperson, or when a manager asks to be friends with subordinates.  The user faced with such situations may be unable to refuse the requests, and has to alter usage behavior or risk alienating important clients or reveal information that may cause his or her standing at work to be diminished.

Some companies, particularly large technology companies, have created their own internal SNS software.  A series of studies of IBM’s Beehive system (now known as Social Blue) reveals that such sites can attract large numbers of employees from around the world, can aid in socialization of new employees, and can enhance employees’ access to new people and sources of expertise around the company.

In addition to the private and internally developed systems like Beehive, a host of competing enterprise social network site providers such as Yammer, SocialText, INgage Networks, NewsGator, Spigit, and other vendors have rushed to provide products for this emerging market.

If you are investigating any aspect of the development, use, and impacts of social network sites in organizational settings, we invite you to submit a paper to this workshop, which will be held in conjunction with the Fifth International Conference on Communities and Technologies (C&T 2011) in Brisbane, Australia on June 30, 2011.

Suggested Topics

We will encourage paper submissions that address the development, use, and impacts of social network software in organizational settings.  Social science research is particularly welcomed.

Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Case studies of public and private SNS in the workplace
  • Tensions between work and non-work use of public SNS
  • Identify management in organizational SNS
  • Consumer behavior and SNS
  • Expertise sharing and SNS
  • Social capital at work and SNS
  • SNS as a tool for organizational socialization
  • ‘Digital natives’ entering corporate world and its effect on SNS use
  • Organizational learning and SNS use
  • Business communities and SNS
  • Global organizations, cross cultural issues and SNS

Key Dates

  • April 1: Submission of an extended abstract (1500 words). Full papers are also acceptable.
  • April 15, acceptance notifications sent out
  • June 1, final papers due (7000-10,000 words)
  • June 30, workshop

Author Guidelines

Extended abstracts and/or papers should be written in English and submitted via email to the workshop organizers at and Extended abstracts should be approximately 1500 words, while final papers should be between 7000 and 10,000 words, including references, tables, figures, and footnotes.  Manuscripts should follow APA style guidelines for citations and formatting.

Publication Prospects

After the workshop, several papers will be selected and invited for submission to a special issue of the Journal of Computer Mediated Communication. All papers will undergo a double-blind review at the journal. However, we will work with the authors of selected papers to revise their papers to increase the likelihood of acceptance at JCMC and there will be a special issue devoted to this topic.


  • Paula O’Kane and Krista Hegan, University of Otago, New Zealand
  • Wang, Hua; Meng, Jingbo; Dong, Fan University of Buffalo, USA
  • Susan West; Allison Noyes; Janet Fulk, University of Southern California, USA
  • Marko Skoric; Ji Pan; Wayne Fu; Clarice Sim Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
  • Daniela Isari; Andrea Pontiggia; Francesco Virili, Università Ca’ Foscari, Venezia, Italy
  • Wietske van Osch and Yang Song, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Hui-Jung Chang Fu-Jen Catholic University, Taipei, Taiwan
  • Michael Koch, Bundeswehr University, Munich, Germany
  • Radhika Gajjala, Bowling Green State University, USA
  • Meikuan Huang; Yun Huang; Noshir Contractor; Drew Margolin; Katherine Ognyanova; Cuihua Shen, Northwestern University, USA
  • Eun-Jung Choi, Sangmyung University, Korea
  • Cliff Lampe, Michigan State University, USA

Workshop Schedule:

Organizations and SNS Workshop Schedule