Impact of the Corporate Blog on Social Capital

ATTW Presentation Abstract

Co-authored with Dr. Craig Baehr, Associate Professor, Texas Tech University

This study critically examines the results of a series of recent studies of corporate blog usage at Dell, Inc., a global computer manufacturer. The studies explore ways to assess the impact of blogs on organizational social capital. The corporate blog was introduced as one tool within a wider communication and collaboration-enabling Web 2.0 technology infrastructure, serving as a medium to capture and archive tacit knowledge, network, and share this collective knowledge, and to create a discussion-based community. Blog users were highly trained knowledge workers in geographically dispersed areas, including those in different time zones, remote employees, and those on frequent business travel. This kind of research is becoming increasingly important to organizations using participatory technologies to collect, share, and reuse information in innovative ways and to explore methods of measuring the social capital and the overall net value that these technologies create for organizations. To date, the impact of Web 2.0 technologies on internal organizational social capital has received little attention, possibly, because of the less evident connection to measurable, economic value for the organization. Our findings recommend innovative and practical ways of looking at measuring organizational social capital as a form of ROI. Defying easy measurement, social capital requires multiple indicators used and derived from the organizational context in which such a system operates. Measuring basic analytics such as page hits, time stamps, and number of posts only skims the surface of assessment and value of these products. Rather, this research advocates the use of a more holistic approach that considers this broad range of indicators, including structural, relational, and cognitive factors, which can lead to a more comprehensive assessment of social capital.

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