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Supporting participatory innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic: a comparative study of enterprise social media use

Kaveh Abhari (Management Information Systems Department, Fowler College of Business, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA) (Digital Innovation Lab, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA)
Michael Pesavento (Digital Innovation Lab, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA)
David Williams (Digital Innovation Lab, San Diego State University, San Diego, California, USA)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Article publication date: 23 May 2022

Issue publication date: 19 July 2023

418

Abstract

Purpose

The need for accelerating innovation is exacerbated as organizations struggle to either adapt or perish in this unforgiving condition due to the COVID-19 disruption. To address this issue, many organizations have embraced employee-driven participatory innovation to survive and thrive albeit the uncertainties. This study aims to investigate the role of enterprise social media (ESM) in supporting and facilitating these efforts.

Design/methodology/approach

This study first identified the underlying mechanisms that allow ESM use to foster and maintain participatory innovation and then reexamined how these mechanisms played out during the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. The data was collected through a questionnaire in two phases, before and during work-from-home mandates, and the results were analyzed and compared to capture similarities and differences.

Findings

The results revealed that innovation culture and management support mediated the effects of ESM use on three measures of innovation productivity in both conditions. Interestingly, the effect of ESM use was more prominent in driving innovation in the work-from-home condition. This effect was not limited to the direct effect of ESM use on innovation productivity but on innovation culture and management support as well.

Originality/value

The results suggest that ESM offer a potentially useful path to support and enable employees to participate in the innovation processes, especially when they work remotely or in a distributed team. More generally, this paper should be of interest to researchers and practitioners interested in understanding, implementing and evaluating enterprise social software applications and encouraging employee-driven participatory innovation.

Keywords

Citation

Abhari, K., Pesavento, M. and Williams, D. (2023), "Supporting participatory innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic: a comparative study of enterprise social media use", Information Technology & People, Vol. 36 No. 5, pp. 2030-2062. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-01-2021-0041

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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