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Keywords:

  • social media;
  • social networking;
  • IT–culture conflict;
  • interpretive case study;
  • IT ambassador

Abstract

Digitally enabled social networks, encompassing social media applications such as wikis, blogs and social networking sites, have the potential to dramatically change organizational culture by building communities, promoting information sharing and fostering collaboration. Although organizational social media site (hereinafter SMS) implementations are proliferating, these technologies often do not harmoniously combine with traditional organizational cultures. To shed light on social media's impact on organizational life, this paper draws on an interpretive case study to investigate a global security company's efforts to implement a digitally enabled social network as part of a cultural change effort. Conceptually, based on the theory of IT–culture conflict, this paper underscores the interplay between organizational culture and technology. Our study finds that conflicts can arise between employees' workplace values and the values they ascribe to social media. This can result in an IT–culture system conflict, which organizations can address using policy-based, socialization-based and leadership-based mechanisms aimed at bringing cultural values and social media site values into alignment.