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(A new TOC link will be inserted weekly until entire research paper is published)

Abstract

Chapter I – INTRODUCTION

Background

Problem Statement

Purpose of the Study

Research Questions

Significance of the Research

Chapter II – LITERATURE REVIEW

Informal Learning

Electronic Performance Support Systems

Microblogs

Theories

Situated Cognition

Distributed Cognition

Communities of Practice

Chapter III – METHODOLOGY

Yammer Functionality

Recruiting Participants

Materials and Procedure

Messages to Recruit Participants

Interview Protocol

Chapter IV – RESULTS AND ANALYSIS

Participant Characteristics

The researcher’s approach to the study

Research question 1: Does using a microblog in the workplace allow employees to become more aware of what each other is doing?

Yammer Experiences

Getting back to: 1. research question: Does using a microblog in the workplace allow employees to become more aware of what each other is doing?

Research question 2: Does the reading of status messages posted on a microblog lead to employees learning something new or receiving assistances with their jobs?

Interactions Because of Yammer

How Did Participants Find Posts that Grabbed their Attention?

Results of Using Yammer

Research question 3: Will the use of microblogs result in people feeling like they are part of communities where they can reach out to each other for assistance?

What Value Yammer Provides

Yammer’s Challenges

CHAPTER V – DISCUSSION, IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Introduction

Discussion of Results

Research question 1: Does using a microblog in the workplace allow employees to become more aware of what each other is doing?

Research question 2: Does the reading of status messages posted on a microblog lead to employees learning something new or receiving assistances with their jobs?

Does reading Yammer posts that prompt participants to reach out to each other contribute to learning and performance?

Does reading Yammer posts contribute to learning and performance when people don’t reach out to each other?

Connections, Learning and Performance Improvement

Research question 3: Will the use of microblogs result in people feeling like they are part of communities where they can reach out to each other for assistance?

Implications

Guidelines on How to Use Yammer to Maximize Its Effectiveness in the Workplace

Recommendations for Future Research

Knowledge Management

Expert Networks

Limitations of Study

Conclusion

References

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A-cross-organizational-study

Renata E. Gorman
Teachers College, Columbia University

Abstract

In this day and age when knowledge workers are entering and exiting organizations practically on a daily basis, many organizations struggle with how best to arm their workforce with the knowledge they need to maximize their performance thereby increasing the organizations efficiency and effectiveness. This study investigated whether or not emerging social media tools like microblogs can be used by organizations to foster informal learning, provide performance support and ultimately improve performance through the creation and utilization of communities of practice. The hypothesis was that when participants used the tool to: 1. Post questions, 2. Answer Yammer’s question: “What are you working on?” they would reveal information that would inspire colleagues, in their Yammer community, to reach out and offer performance assistance. This would result in colleagues learning from each other and assisting each other and would eventually turn these groups into Communities of Practice.

Findings indicated that:

  1. Participants used the tool to post many different types of information, not just questions, and work activity updates;
  2. Participants did not generally reach out because of work activity updates but they did reach out to respond to questions;
  3. Participants perceived that their learning, effectiveness and efficiency were increased because of their Yammer use;
  4. Participants received assistance on the job through many different types of information that they post, not just questions and work activity updates;
  5. Participants felt supported by the Yammer community.

Keywords: microblog, Yammer, Twitter, informal learning, performance support, communities of practice, situated cognition, distributed cognition, knowledge management, expert networks

This is a section of a research study, to read more, go to the Table of Contents.

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This is a section of a research proposal, to read more, go to the Table of Contents

Knowledge Management

This research does not address microblogs as Knowledge Management Systems but the connection is important to point out for potential further research and microblog development.

Imagine that a person has found a solution, posted an updated with a link to that solution, and tagged his solution with a hashtag—a microblog’s version of meta data. He is now embarking on knowledge management, “the generation, storage, transfer, transformation, application, embedding and protection of organizational knowledge” (Hedlund, 1994, p. 10; Nonaka, 2005). Perhaps communities of practice can use Yammer to manage their knowledge. In fact, in 2000“…the American Productivity & Quality Center began to notice how important communities of practice were in creating, gathering, and sharing knowledge as part of formal knowledge management (KM) efforts” (Hasanali, et al., 2002, p. vi). To that end, they conducted one of the largest studies on communities of practice to date that included many public and private organizations.

Knowledge management is a term that received some negative press because many organizations spent significant amounts of funding on them in the 1990s and they didn’t quite work as expected. There are many reasons for this but two relevant ones are:

  1. People did not participate either citing time constraints or because cultural values encouraged them to hoard knowledge (Guptara, 1999). Taking a look at the popularity of Twitter, a public microbog, one can see that microblogs have solved this issue; in fact many people just can’t stop contributing (Nagle, 2010).
  2. The other challenge was that KM systems had a hard time ascertaining what a person’s context was and context is a critical component for an effective knowledge management system (Degler & Battle, 2000). One could offer a colleague a great paper but if it is not relevant to what he is doing or otherwise interested in, it will most likely, not be consumed. So, microblogs also have also solved the issue of context.

Expert Networks

Finally, organizations often struggle with figuring out who their experts are, but have begun looking at social media analysis for assistance (Fu, Xiang, Liu, Zhang, & Ma, 2007). For example, imagine if for a year, everything employees were working on was captured in their status updates through Yammer. What if the leaders of that organization could search for certain keywords and could see all the people in the organization who have ever, at least in that year, worked on something like that or are currently working on something similar? How much easier would it be to assemble the best project teams?

This is a section of a research proposal, to read more, go to the Table of Contents

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to examine whether the use of microblogs, a tool that easily uncovers context, can be used to provide performance support and therefore foster informal learning leading to performance improvement and self sustaining communities of practice.

Research Questions

Therefore the research questions are the following:

  1. Can microblogs like Yammer help organizations, uncover context in a fast, convenient, and cost-effective way, and therefore provide the means to implement just-in-time content delivery, informal learning and performance support?
  2. Can the use of a microblogs like Yammer help members of an organization increase their learning and improve their performance?
  3.  Will the use of microblogs result in self-sustaining communities of practice?

Significance of the Research

Microblogs have not yet been studied for their ability to increase learning and performance, and their ability to foster communities of practice and manage knowledge in and for an organization. Results of this study could advise many organizations that are unsure of social media and think microblogs are disruptive because they distract employees, to reconsider these powerful new tools that can help us all stay connected in a productive manner. In addition, developers of microblogs may consider knowledge management systems as they further develop these powerful tools.

This is a section of a research proposal, to read more, go to the Table of Contents

Abstract

In this day and age when knowledge workers are entering and exiting organizations practically on a daily basis, many organizations struggle with how best to arm their workforce with the knowledge they need to maximize their performance thereby increasing the organizations efficiency and effectiveness. Social media tools such as microblogs are emerging and can be used by organizations to foster informal learning, provide performance support and help create communities of practice that result in employees enhancing their learning and knowledge and improving their performance. It is worthwhile thinking of microblogs in the context of situated cognition to understand that learning and performance are intertwined in day-to-day work activities. While distributed cognition helps us understand and view microblog users in organizations as one system that drives the collective forward.

This research aims to uncover that microbloggers in organizations enjoy enhanced learning and performance improvement through the use of the tool and that this results in communities of practice.

Finally it is also important to note that because microblogs can uncover context, manage content and provide access to experts, they could be examined in the context of a knowledge management system and used not just to manage an organization’s knowledge but also to find an organization’s experts.

Keywords: microblog, Yammer, Twitter, informal learning, performance support, communities of practice, situated cognition, distributed cognition, knowledge management, expert networks

Table of Contents
(TOC links will be inserted as content is written)
Background
Problem Statement
Purpose of the Study
Research Questions
Significance of the Research

Literature Review
Informal Learning

Electronic Performance Support Systems
Microblogs

Theories
Situated Cognition
Distributed Cognition
Communities of Practice
Recommendations for Future Research
Knowledge Management

Expert Networks
Summary
Method
Yammer Functionality

Participants
Materials and Procedure: Messages to Recruit Participants
Materials and Procedure: Interview Protocol
References

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