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

Karolis Tijunaitis (School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland)
Debora Jeske (School of Applied Psychology, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland)
Kenneth S. Shultz (California State University, San Bernardino, California, USA)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 14 March 2019

Issue publication date: 20 March 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Technology and globalization of services have facilitated the digitalization of many processes at work. However, their impact on social capital is unknown. The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationships between virtuality in the workplace and social capital.

Design/methodology/approach

Using an online survey, the authors 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 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.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are not aware of any conflict of interest. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of our colleagues who supported this research and the participants who agreed to participate in this study. The first author designed the current study with the second author. The third author supported the data collection effort. All authors contributed to different degrees to the development of the paper.

Citation

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, Vol. 41 No. 3, pp. 358-373. https://doi.org/10.1108/ER-03-2018-0093

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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