Social Media & Organizational Learning: A Lesson

Recently, I co-lectured a number of sessions on Organizational Learning at the University of Nottingham and talked to students on various programs about how organizations leverage exisiting networks and use social media to foster knowledge creation and collaboration. I introduced some of the concepts described in earlier posts, such as Ross Dawson’s Social Media Strategy Framework and Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism.

Furthermore, I tried to embed the aforementioned practitioner models in a more theoretical context. For this purpose, I used the papers by Inkpen & Tsang (2005) as well as Nahapiet & Ghoshal (1998). We explored the concept and dimensions of social capital and looked at how the latter may affect knowledge processes within networks.

I closed the sessions with a McKinsey survey which presents various tools that are currently used for internal knowledge management. Wikis, Blogs, RSS feeds and Video sharing were the killer applications in this category. I was very pleased with the questions raised during the sessions and the presentations that were produced as a result of my engagement. What a great feeling to inspire other minds. However, this doesn’t just work one way. One of the students, who used to be with Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company, shared with us some of the tools and concepts they used at work. This is how we met Jessica a.k.a. Dr. Enterprise 2.0.


Inkpen, A. C., & Tsang, E. W. K. 2005. Social Capital, Networks, and Knowledge Transfer. Academy of Management Review, 30(1): 146–165.

Nahapiet, J., & Ghoshal, S. 1998. Social Capital, Intellectual Capital, and the Organizational Advantage. Academy of Management Review, 23(2): 242–266.

The Nottingham Spanish Language Meetup

In an earlier blog post, I mentioned that I would become more proactive about the organization of a Spanish language meetup in Nottingham. There used to be two groups which have now merged into one. We are meeting on Wednesday nights from 7 to 9 pm at Edin’s. If you are interested in joining the group, you can check out our events here. We are looking forward to welcoming like-minded people who are equally interested in Spanish language and culture.


International Corporate Blog Reader Study by @KingNils

My friend Nils König is currently running a survey for his PhD dissertation. He will analyze how attitudes of internet users vary towards corporate blogs and how reading preferences are shaped by cultural, demographic and experience factors. The survey is conducted in English, German and Russian, and will eventually enable an inter-cultural comparison of corporate blog reading and commenting behavior. The questionnaire comprises 17 questions, which will take about 10 minutes to answer. Please, take a moment to help Nils with his project.


6th UK Social Networks Conference

The 6th UK Social Networks Conference will take place in Manchester from the 12th to the 16th of April, 2010, and offers an interdisciplinary venue for social and behavioural scientists, sociologists, educationalists, political scientists, mathematicians, computer scientists, physicists, practitioners and others to present their work in the area of social networks. The primary objective of the conference is to facilitate interactions between the many different disciplines interested in network analysis. The conference provides a unique opportunity for the dissemination and debate of recent advances in theoretical and experimental network research.

This year special attention would be dedicated to the history of network analysis, its link to mixing methods techniques and environment and network evolution.

Keynote Speakers

  • Professor Linton Freeman, University of California, Irvine The history of SNA and the Manchester group (an outsider’s view)
  • Professor Russell Bernard, University of Florida Mixing methods in social network research
  • Professor Patrick Doreian, University of Pittsburgh, University of Ljubljana Environments, network and network evolution

A Special Report on Social Networking by The Economist

As a social scientist, I find it particularly thrilling to be working on a phenomenon that is very up-to-date. I am not looking at ancient data or analyzing people who have passed away a long time ago, but instead I focus on people’s behavior and attitudes in today’s world and their impact on how organizations conduct business. I was delighted to read this week’s special report on social networking by The Economist. Please find below my notes and a few thoughts on the report.

1. Networks facilitate creative endeavors

Social network sites allow people to connect to each other and swap relevant information. This is likely to enhance organizations’ creative potential and tap into the wisdom of the crowds. The days of specialist silos are long gone. Organizations can leverage their employees’ knowledge effectively by employing collaborative technologies.

2. The network effect & exponential utility growth

The network effect and resulting feedback loops have been observed with the introduction of a variety of techological inventions, such as the phone, the Internet, etc. It states that the value of a product or service increases as more people use it. The same is true of social network sites. The more people seem to use Facebook or Twitter, for example, the better and more nuanced the information we obtain on these networks.

3. Cluttering of social network sites

I have heard a number of people express worries about the plethora of sites that have recently sprouted. There are places for all kinds of interest groups. Staying on top of these developments is time consuming. What I expect to see more often in the future are portable identies, such as Facebook Connect, that allow their users to take their profile information from one site to another. This is a keynote presentation about Identity 2.0 by Dick Hardt, Founder and CEO of Sxip Identy. He makes this point very vividly.

4. Cultural change: openness & self-esteem

Another common concern regarding the use of social network sites is the loss of privacy. How much do people reveal about themselves on their online profiles. Do they give away too much personal information let alone proprietary company intelligence? In the interview, Martin Giles is being asked whether the use of social network sites even transforms personality. He speaks of a polarizing effect where celebreties, in particular, blow up their egos massively or become very humble through the use of social network sites. I have not come across any study that would confirm this hypothesis, however, the question of how the use of social network sites affects measures of self-esteem has been addressed before. The Journal of Cyberpsychology & Behavior is a good source for further references.

5. Is ‘Enterprise 2.0’ just a hype?

“In the business world there has also been much hype around something called ‘Enterprise 2.0’, a term coined to describe efforts to bring technologies such as social networks and blogs into the workplace.”

To my mind, this statement is a bit too playful. If you look at Gartner’s 2009 Hype Cycle Special Report, many of the quoted technologies have surpassed the point of inflated expectations. Blogging, Wikis and Social Network Analysis are now on their way to maturity. This argument can be backed by a couple of books that have recently been published, for example Andrew McAfee’s Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for Your Organization’s Toughest Challenges and Niall Cook’s Enterprise 2.0: How Social Software Will Change the Future of Work.



6. Social networking = social notworking?

“The executives’ biggest concern was that social networking would lead to social notworking, with employees using the sites to chat with friends instead of doing their jobs.”

Again, this is a question of how collaborative technologies are employed and what incentives are being used to engage employees. I have written about this earlier. A paper on the ‘Effects of feedback and peer pressure on contributions to enterprise social media’ has been published in 2009 by the Hewlett-Packard Laboratories and provides more references on the subject.

Looking for a Spanish Language Meet-up in Nottingham

I am a big fan of Spain and Latin America. I have spent several months studying in Spain and Cuba, and I worked in Ecuador for a while. Some of my friends are similarly interested in the Spanish speaking hemisphere which allowed me to do some more traveling in Mexiko, Colombia and Venezuela while they were there. Over the past year, I attempted to locate the Spanish speaking community in Nottingham. However, I was not particularly successful. Last weekend I decided to become more proactive about the issue. According to Gumtree, there seems to be one group meeting on Monday nights in the city centre. The waiting list for Nottingham on Meetup consists of 295 people. This makes me think there is plenty of untapped potential. If you have heard of any regular meetings, please do let me know. If you have any suggestions regarding the organization of a meet-up, I would also be happy to hear about them. I was thinking of bringing people together in the Bar de Nada maybe once a month.

UoN Traveling Researchers Scheme

The University of Nottingham, with its campuses China and Malaysia and more than 8,000 international students, truly deserves to be called an international university. The administration is now taking advantage of all the students from abroad and has introduced a Traveling Researchers Scheme which I joined recently. If you are traveling frequently (which I am ;-), you may meet with prospective students in their home country and chat with them about studying in Nottingam. This includes advice on how to get the applications right and options for funding studies in the UK. In a way this scheme seems similar to many ambassador programs on social network sites. I frequently visit Germany and North America and I will be happy to meet with anyone interested in studying here. The International Office hosts a blog on which current meeting opportunities are published.

On Personal Effectiveness: Shareaholic


Regardless of whether I am at work or at home, I like to share the information that I come across every day. In order to do so, I have installed a variety of applications for the different types of communication channels I am using. I recently stumbled across a great tool that lets me share all my links in a very convenient way. It is called Shareaholic and provides access to many of the services I use every day, such as Twitter, Facebook, Posterous, Google Reader, Delicious and so on. While I was updating to the newest version the other day, I discovered a nice little video which I would like to share with you. Have a look and check out if this is something you would like to use as well.