THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INTRA-­FIRM SOCIAL NETWORKING AND INNOVATION : A CASE OF ENTERPRISE SOCIAL NETWORK IN ERICSSON

University essay from KTH/Skolan för informations- och kommunikationsteknik (ICT)

Abstract:

Innovation as the most important way for firms to retain their long-term competitiveness has been extensively researched lately. In this thesis, the author perceived innovation from the bottom up approach, where innovation spans over a broad spectrum of actors, reaching the initiative at a very low level. From this perspective, although innovation starts from an initial idea within an individual’s mind, the connections and interactions between individuals in a social context are very important for idea generation and innovation implementation. Thus social links and interaction within the enterprise context hold an important role in the firms’ innovation. Enterprise Social Network (ESN), defined as “a set of technologies that creates business value by connecting the members of an organization through profiles, updates, and notifications”, comes as one strategy to facilitate professional social networking activities within firms to support better collaboration and communication. However, nowadays when social networking becomes very popular, theimplementation of ESN appears more of a trend for firms instead of a well planned strategy. Most ESN implementations lack means of evaluation of their impacts towardthe firms’ performance, including innovation.

In response to that, this thesis’s aim is to answer the ‘how’ question on ESN support toward 9 innovation climate characteristics and social interaction within firm. In this research, an interpretive research methodology was applied towards a case in a global telecom company, Ericsson, with their ESN called MyNET. As part of the methodology, a survey and interviews were done to assess MyNET users’ experience and opinion in this matter. The social network graph was also used in this methodology as an additional input for the interviews.

There were 672 respondents participating in the survey and 10 interviews were conducted. The results show that the targeted goals of MyNET implementation support innovation climate characteristics. The results also show that professional social networking activities supported by MyNET such as individual user profile, add colleague in the social network, share information, ask and answer questions, join community, etc, provide an innovative way for social interaction supporting better communication and collaboration which is important for innovation in a global ompany.

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