The Management and Use of Social Network Sites in a Government Department
In this paper we report findings from a study of social network site use in a UK Government department. We have investigated this from a managerial, organisational perspective. We found at the study site that there are already several social network technologies in use, and that these: misalign with and problematize organisational boundaries; blur boundaries between working and social lives; present differing opportunities for control; have different visibilities; have overlapping functionality with each other and with other information technologies; that they evolve and change over time; and that their uptake is conditioned by existing infrastructure and availability. We find the organisational complexity that social technologies are often hoped to cut across is, in reality, something that shapes their uptake and use. We argue the idea of a single, central social network site for supporting cooperative work within an organisation will hit the same problems as any effort of centralisation in organisations. Fostering collective intelligence in organisations is therefore not a problem of designing the right technology but of supporting work across multiple technologies. We argue that while there is still plenty of scope for design and innovation in this area, an important challenge now is in supporting organisations in managing what can best be referred to as a social network site ‘ecosystem’.