Intra-Organizational Boundary Spanning


Journal Articles

The rise of the promoters: user classes and contribution patterns in enterprise social media

Bulgurcu, B., Van Osch, W., & Kane, G. C.   •  2018

Journal of Management Information Systems, v.35, p. 610.
DOI: 10.1080/07421222.2018.1451960


The proliferation of enterprise social media (ESM) has created opportunities for employees to self-organize around common goals or interests. However, little is known about the different user classes that exist in ESM and the factors that drive contributions to ESM communities. Using multilevel analyses of secondary data from the ESM of a global organization, we find that (1) although ESM communities reflect a core-periphery structure similar to that identified in other forms of online communities, nearly two-thirds of the users represent promoters—a distinct class of users who use the platform primarily to post promotional content without viewing existing content created by others; and (2) despite individual differences in user type, the actual contribution to an ESM community is the result of an intricate interaction between a user’s disposition for participation and a set of group characteristics. Our findings suggest that recognizing the unique contribution patterns of different user groups is key to understanding participation in ESM communities.

Strategic visibility in enterprise social media: Implications for network formation and boundary spanning

Wietske Van Osch, Charles W. Steinfield   •  2018​

Journal of Management Information Systems, 35(2), 647-682.
DOI: 10.1080/07421222.2018.1451961


Effective workgroups engage in team boundary spanning, that is, using communication ties as conduits to critical external resources. The proliferation of enterprise social media (ESM) and the associated increase in visibility of people, content, and interactions, has resulted in a widespread assumption that unlimited visibility improves boundary spanning. Consequently, the ESM literature has generally ignored the sentry functions of teams and failed to examine the possible strategic nature of visibility choices by ESM groups. Using log and content data from 655 ESM-based workgroups at a multinational enterprise, we contribute a deeper understanding of the distinct ways that ESM visibility—bounded or unbounded—is leveraged strategically to evoke diverse network structures, which in turn have implications for distinct boundary-spanning activities. Practically, these findings show that ESM present a unique opportunity for workgroups to simultaneously sustain multiple virtual spaces—with varying levels of visibility—through which they can manage their diverse boundary-spanning goals.

Team Boundary-Spanning: Strategic Implications for the Implementation and Use of Enterprise Social Media

Wietske Van Osch, Charles Steinfield   •  2016

Journal of Information Technology, v.31.
DOI: 10.1057/Fjit.2016.12


Recent team boundary spanning literature has recommended a shift toward assessing the role of virtual tools – such as social media. Simultaneously the proliferation of Enterprise Social Media (ESM) points to the need to theorize and investigate the supra-individual usage of these tools, such as their usefulness for organizational groups. This paper responds to both mandates through a theoretical integration of the team boundary spanning and existing ESM literature. Using data from two studies – one qualitative and one quantitative – this papers addresses two important research questions regarding the empirical relationship between team boundary spanning and ESM for understanding (i) the types of team boundary-spanning activities that group members enact through ESM and (ii) the effects of ESM on extra-team stakeholders’ perceptions and reciprocating actions vis-à-vis the team boundary-spanning activities of these group members. The results of this study show that ESM, largely as a function of their visibility affordance, supports a narrow set of representational activities, but offers only limited support for information search and coordination. Furthermore, the findings reveal that ESM activity has a positive effect on extra-team stakeholders’ recognition and financial support of the representational ESM posts emanating from the boundary-spanning group. Important implications for theory, strategy, and design are discussed.

Peer-Reviewed Conference Articles

Enterprise Social Media: The Opportunities and Challenges for Start-Up Companies

Van Osch, Wietske, Wang, Yi-Chuan   •  2017

Proceedings of the 25th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS), Guimaraes, Portugal.


Enterprise Social Media (ESM) represents a burgeoning area of research; yet, the majority of studies on ESM have focused on the adoption and use of these systems in large enterprises, with limited knowledge about the use of ESM systems in small enterprises, particularly start-ups. The challenges faced by start-up businesses are sufficiently different from those faced by large companies, therefore limiting the generalizability of findings about ESM adoption and use in large companies to the startup context. In this paper, we use a qualitative case study approach to explore the benefits and challenges associated with the implementation and use of Slack in a Taiwanese mobile application start-up company. Moving beyond offering mere rich descriptions of the organizational impacts associated with ESM implementation for start-up companies, we also use the findings of this study to propose a set of technological modifications that may make ESM systems more suitable for the types of workplace interactions required in small enterprise settings. Thus beyond implications for research and practice, this paper concludes with a set of design implications that could guide ESM developers in building systems for the start-up market.

Spanning the Boundary: Measuring the Realized and Lifecycle Impact of Distinct Boundary Spanning Activities on Project Success and Completion

Van Osch, Wietske, Steinfield, Charles W., and Zhao, Yanjie   •  2017

Proceedings of the 50th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), Big Island, Hawaii.
DOI: 10.24251/HICSS.2017.239


For work teams to be effective, maintaining communication ties with other individuals and teams elsewhere in the organization—an activity typically referred to as team boundary spanning—is necessary for obtaining resources critical to project success. Within the literature on boundary spanning, the positive relationship between a team’s boundary-spanning activities and their performance has been validated repeatedly, but primarily through the use of self-reports from managers and team members. Thus, neither objective data exists to support these claims nor a longitudinal understanding of how various boundary-spanning activities may play different roles at various stages of project work. Similarly, with the proliferating use of enterprise social media (ESM) technologies in organizations, the empirical link between the increased visibility of communication ties in ESM and more effective boundary spanning has been largely assumed, but has received only limited empirical validation. In this study, drawing on log and content data from 169 projects in an ESM of a large multi-national corporation, we aim to objectively assess the effect of boundary spanning on project success as well as provide a qualitative path model of the evolution of boundary-spanning activities throughout the lifecycle of a project through a comparison of successful versus unsuccessful projects. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

Antecedents of Transactive Memory on Enterprise Social Media

Nelson, Michael; Van Osch, Wietske   •  2017

Proceedings of the 2017 International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS), Seoul, South Korea.


Following prior literature on transactive memory and enterprise social media (also known as enterprise 2.0), the aim of the proposed study is to test transactive memory (TM), one of the explanatory mechanisms that has been used in addressing how ESM mitigate the challenge of knowledge management, in the context of an ESM system deployed within Global Deskcorp, a multinational office furniture manufacturer.

Team Boundary Spanning through Enterprise Social Media: Exploring the Effects of Group-Level Diversity Using a Data Science Approach

Wietske Van Osch, Charles W. Steinfield, Yanjie Zhao   •  2016

Proceedings of the 49th Hawaii International Conference on Systems Sciences, v.49, p. 2176.
DOI: 10.1109/HICSS.2016.274


Effective work groups engage in team boundary spanning, that is, the use of communication ties as conduits to critical external resources. With the proliferation of social media technologies in enterprise settings and the associated increase in visibility of communication ties, understanding their impact on boundary spanning becomes imperative to improving cross-boundary knowledge creation and management inside organizations. In this paper, drawing on log data from 415 unique work groups in an enterprise social media (ESM) system, we use a machine learning approach to automatically detect three distinct team boundary-spanning activities. Using zero-inflated poisson regressions, we further show the effect of group visibility as well as three distinct sources of group structural diversity — geographic, functional, and hierarchical — on the extent to which teams engage in boundary spanning through ESM. Implications for theory and practice around the use of data science approaches as well as visibility and diversity constructs for understanding team boundary spanning are discussed.

Towards Behavioral Measures of Boundary Spanning Success: The Effectiveness and Efficiency of Team Boundary Spanning in Enterprise Social Media

Wietske Van Osch, Charles Steinfield, Yanjie Zhao   •  2016

Proceedings of the 2016 European Conference on Information Systems, v.24


Boundary spanning has gained significant popularity in the field of information systems given its role as a critical antecedent to innovation and organizational performance. The majority of boundaryspanning studies have focused on assessing the impact of boundary spanning—as an activity—on distinct dependent variables, such as team innovativeness or operational performance, rather than on measuring the success of the boundary spanning efforts per se. In this conceptual paper, we integrate the literature on boundary spanning and usability to delineate three distinct dimensions of boundaryspanning success by measuring the effectiveness and efficiency of a boundary-spanning interaction— that is the dyadic relation between the boundary spanner and the responder. Our exploratory descriptive statistics reveal that although ESM may be useful in supporting teams in enacting effective information search in reaching the requisite target audience and yielding the desired resources, it is less useful for supporting effective representation and coordination. Developing success metrics not only helps us determine the role of IS in boundary spanning interactions, but also provides a behavioral approach to assessing whether or not boundary spanning is successful in itself rather than determining its downstream performance impacts.

Classifying Enterprise Social Media Users: A Mixed-Method Study of Organizational Social Media Use

Van Osch, Wietske, Bulgurcu, Burcu, and Kane, Gerald C.   •  2016

Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS), Dublin, Ireland.


The proliferation of enterprise social media (ESM) has created gaps in theorizing ESM users’ diverse motivations and usage patterns. Drawing specifically from the core-periphery model in the traditional online community literature, we propose a similar core-periphery structure in the ESM context, but also suggest a new class of users, that we refer to as promoters. Using cross-section log data from an ESM of a large multinational corporation and a mixed-method approach–including quantitative cluster analysis and qualitative interviews–our findings reveal that as expected ESMs reflect a core-periphery structure, however, nearly two-thirds of the users in the enterprise setting represent two novel user groups, namely promoters or super-promoters. These groups utilize the platform primarily for contributing self-presentational and self-promoting content without consuming or sharing the content created by others. The findings from our interviews further shed light onto the diverse set of motivations that underpin the usage behaviors of these user groups.

Enterprise Social Media: Challenges and Opportunities for Organizational Communication and Collaboration

Wietske Van Osch, Charles W. Steinfield, Brigitte A. Balogh   •  2015

Proceedings of the 48th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS), Kaua’i, Hawaii, USA.
DOI: 10.1109/HICSS.2015.97


Given the large investments in Enterprise Social Media technologies in organizational settings, this paper sets out to explore the challenges and opportunities that ESM technologies provide for organizational communication. Merging existing conceptual work on ESM with findings from thirteen appreciative interviews with professionals from a large multinational organization, our papers offers six areas of opportunities and challenges—Social Capital Formation, Boundary Work, Attention Allocation, Social Analytics, Adoption and Use Incentives, and Governance and Control—that could guide researchers and practitioners in understanding and informing the use of social media technologies in their most productive and impactful ways.

Towards Behavioral Measures of Boundary Spanning Success: A Data Science Approach

Wietske Van Osch, Ya-Wen Yu, Charles Steinfield   •  2015

SIGBPS Workshop on Business Processes and Services (BPS'15)


In recent years, the ability to mine, manage, and examine big data has sparked a strong interest among scholars and managers to leverage data science approaches for measuring and in turn enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of various areas of knowledge management, such as boundary spanning. In this paper, we use a data science approach to delineate three distinct behavioral metrics of boundary spanning effectiveness and efficiency that are critical in determining the success of a boundaryspanning interaction—the dyadic relation between the boundary spanner and the responder, namely goal alignment, hierarchical alignment, and timeliness. These new metrics offer researchers and practitioners new means for assessing the actual rather than self-reported success of a boundary spanning activity as well as for evaluating the role of information systems in such boundary spanning interactions. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Intra-Organizational Boundary Spanning: A Machine Learning Approach

Wietske Van Osch, Charles Steinfield, Yanjie Zhao   •  2015

Proceedings of the 2015 Americas Conference on Information Systems, v.21


In recent years, the ability to mine, manage, and examine big data has sparked a strong interest among scholars and managers to leverage data science and machine-learning approaches for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of various areas of knowledge management. The success of today’s enterprises increasingly depends on the efficiency and quality of their cross-boundary knowledge flows and processes (Marrone, 2010). Various information systems, specifically emerging enterprise social media (ESM) technologies, are used to increase the transparency and openness of knowledge flows with the aim of enhancing team effectiveness, collaboration, knowledge sharing, and innovation. In this paper, we develop and test a machine-learning algorithm for detecting three distinct types of boundary spanning drawn from a series of earlier studies on project teams, using content data from an ESM platform of a large multinational corporation. The three boundary-spanning activities include representation, coordination, and general information search, all of which have been associated with distinct performance benefits, both for the teams performing these activities and the organization at large. Hence, insights from the proposed algorithm can assist knowledge managers in evaluating and enhancing the likelihood of cross-boundary knowledge flows.

Inter-Team Boundary Spanning: A Data Science Approach

Wietske Van Osch, Charles Steinfield, Yanjie Zhao   •  2015

The IRES - 64th International Conference on Science, Technology and Management (ICSTM)


Foundations for the Project

Enterprise Social Media: Definition, History, and Prospects for the Study of Social Technologies in Organizations

Paul M. Leonardi, Marleen Huysman, Charles Steinfield   •  2013

Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19(1), 1-19, DOI: 10.1111/jcc4.12029

Bowling online: social networking and social capital within the organization

Charles Steinfield, Joan M. DiMicco, Nicole B. Ellison, Cliff Lampe   •  2009

In Proceedings of the Fourth International Conference on Communities and Technologies, (University Park, PA, USA, June 25-27). C&T ’09. ACM, New York, NY, 245-254., DOI: 10.1145/1556460.1556496

A scientometric analysis of social media research

Constantinos K. Coursaris, Wietske Van Osch    •  2014

Scientometrics 101, 357–380, DOI: 10.1007/s11192-014-1399-z

Boundary Spanning through Enterprise Social Software: An External Stakeholder Perspective

Wietske Van Osch, Charles W. Steinfield   •  2013

Proceedings of the International Conference on Information Systems 2013 (ICIS), Milan, Italy.

Organizational Social Media: A Comprehensive Framework and Research Agenda

Wietske van Osch, Constantinos K. Coursaris   •  2013

46th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences, Wailea, Maui, HI, 2013, pp. 700-707, DOI: 10.1109/HICSS.2013.439.

The Duality of Social Media: Structuration and Socialization through Organizational Communication

Wietske van Osch, Constantinos K. Coursaris   •  2012

Best Paper Award at the Eleventh Annual Pre-ICIS Workshop on HCI Research in MIS (SIGHCI).

Social Media Research: An Assessment of the Domain’s Productivity and Intellectual Evolution

Wietske van Osch, Constantinos K. Coursaris   •  2014

Communication Monographs, 81:3, 285-309, DOI: 10.1080/03637751.2014.921720