Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How Social Network Channels Influence Job Performance

Do your social networks impact your success? Xiaojung and Vekatesh (2013) discuss research on how important physical and online social networks are to job performance. Direct physical, direct online, and indirect online are sources of information that impact the process of decision-making and connecting to resources. Their research helps identify how online and offline communication channels can work together to enhance job performance.

It is first beneficial to define what a social network is. “A social network is a specific set of linkages among a defined set of persons, with the additional property that the characteristics of these linkages as a whole may be used to interpret the social behavior of the persons involved” (Mitchell, 1969, p. 2). Those within the same social networks often use similar behaviors and vantage points.

Face-to-face communication offers the opportunity for both verbal and non-verbal communication. It is considered a rich content channel that spreads information through time tested historical methods. The advent of online communication affords greater variety of information management that previous methods need physical interaction to accomplish.

Despite its breadth, online communication channels are less value laden than face-to-face communication. Yet this communication channel is being hedged to create greater reach than would be possible with traditional methods. Varying degrees of information can be collected from networks in the online world that moves quickly among members. Over time online channels will become more information laden to mimic face-to-face interaction (i.e. video, music, forums).

The authors found that the use of online and off-line communication does have an impact on job performance. The belief is that information is power and the more one is able to collect and integrate varying channels of information the more likely they can make proper decisions that impact their job. It is recommended that business leaders use both forms of communication for maximum job growth.

The report doesn’t move into this concept, but through channel expansion theory and concepts of information hubs it is possible to put oneself in the center of the information hub and expand upon that information for greater influence. Leaders who desire to become influential should develop as many communication channels as humanly possible and use that information to bring great ideas forward.

Mitchell, J. (1969). “The concept and use of social networks” in social networks in urban situations, J.C. Mitchell (ed), Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, p. 1-50.

Zhang, X. & Venkatesh, V. (2013). Explaining employee job performance: the role of online and offline workplace communication networks.  MIS Quarterly, 37 (3).

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