Virtuality at work and social media use among dispersed workers: promoting network ties, shared vision and trust

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Tijunaitis, Karolis
Jeske, Debora
Shultz, Kenneth S.
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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Purpose: Technology and globalization of services have facilitated the digitalization of many processes at work. However, their impact on social capital is unknown. Thus, the goal of the current study was to examine the relationships between virtuality in the workplace and social capital. Design: Using an online survey, we recruited 152 female student workers using an opportunity sampling approach. Findings: Participants who used social media at work (n = 112) reported higher social capital overall than participants who did not use any social media to communicate with colleagues at work (n = 40). This difference also presented itself in terms of the social capital subscales (network ties, shared vision, and trust). Mediation analysis conducted with users of social media at work (n = 112) revealed that social media use was a significant mediator in the relationship between virtuality at work and social capital overall (partial mediation). Subsequent analyses with the subscales for virtuality and social capital suggested full mediation of the relationship in most instances (with the exception of work practices). Originality/value: This is the first study to examine the relationship between virtuality, social media, and social capital at work. The result of this study suggests that social media use at work between colleagues can play a significant role in promoting social capital in workplaces that are heavily reliant on technological application to support interactions at work and feature geographical and temporal dispersion.
Social capital , Social media , Virtuality
Tijunaitis, K., Jeske, D. and Shultz, K. S. (2019) ‘Virtuality at work and social media use among dispersed workers: promoting network ties, shared vision and trust’, Employee Relations, 41(3), pp.358-373. doi: 10.1108/ER-03-2018-0093
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