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« Could Monitoring of Emotions in Electronic Communications Be Used to Predict the Well-Being of Organizations? | Main | IBM Announces First Female CEO: Has the glass ceiling been shattered... or just cracked? »

January 04, 2012

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I didn't realize all of these comments were up. I appreciate all of the feedback. The concerns are valid. I've spoken with colleagues who have said students have set new semester expectations asking for friend requests and texts! I think that if you can facilitate the relationship without any serious liability and with some clear boundaries, there may be a lot gained. It's the digital equivalent of a faculty-in-residence program, which used to be a very common practice. Yammer is great and is gaining traction. It needs to remain relevant as it grows in popularity. Until then, Facebook and Twitter are where the students and employees are! If we can safely maintain our presence there, we can teach or manage anywhere! I'll keep you posted on our findings!

Thanks for sharing these experiences from university Chris. As an employee of a small global company full of young professionals, we've recently embraced yammer as a method to move a lot of company-wide conversation off of email. That being said, yammer is now being used for both social and work content, so there is discussion about yet another technology solution. With both professional coms and social/team building coms important, there has to be a way to meet both needs without so many technology applications. That being said, I'm not so sure facebook with colleagues/students is the way to go.

From research we are aware that computers have changed psychology. Many companies are moving away from the desk top computers to laptops and tablets and making employees more mobile and less visible. This week my company lost three vital employees to the telecommuter employers. My questions are with advancement of this nature would there be a need for face to face employee contact? Is accepting a friend request from a student be considered a dual relationship of regrets? How difficult is it to manage a relationship from the classroom to the web?

I deeply agree with the previous comments. There is blatant and obvious attraction to this notion from many other directions as can be seen by products such as Yammer, which is essentially a web-based, Twitter style program for organizations and other social networking functions embedded in Learning Management Systems and HRIS across multiple organizations.

As Gilbert stated in a previous comment, creating some separation would be the expectation in the past, but more and more people are trying to connect with each other and get to know each other as human beings more with less separation, albeit through digital means. The dark side of this, as mentioned in a study review by Janice Wood (2011), is that electronic communications can have a much deeper impact and implication than simply instant feedback: communications may not be as honest through forms such as text messaging. On a brighter note, my personal opinion is that people often are more open and available for communication through electronic means, as it allows them to think through what they have to say before they actually hit send, and they often don't have the barrier of looking directly at someone and feeling uncomfortable with that. Again, very much a double-edged sword.

As you can see, I definitely share your interest and passion in this area (especially as someone on the cusp of Gen X and Y), and very much look forward to whatever results may come from your research!

IMHO the issues of social networking (corporate and personal) and digital collaboration as they relate to workplace behavior are some of the most interesting and timely, yet under-researched, topics in I/O psychology. Supervisors and managers are confronting the same issues you experienced on a daily basis.

There are so many interesting issues related to this, such as the digital literacy of leaders and how it impacts their effectiveness, and digital relationships and how they relate to face-to-face workplace interaction.

This is an interesting sitiuation. Communication is important in both our professional and personal lives. Facebook is a great communication medium. Do you think it would be best to create a professional facebook page in addition to your personal one to avoid the possibility of dual relationships?

Christopher - Great post! New technology and social media are breaking down barriers and creating sticky issues. Looking forward to your research insights.

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