Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Social Networking - CIPD to explore 'can it live up to the hype ?'

In the latest issue (no. 22) of the CIPD Quarterly Update on CIPD Policy & Research (IMPACT), Martyn Sloman provides information that:

'The CIPD is about to launch a research project exploring the subject of social networking to consider its potential and practical applications in the world of work'

I believe this is a very welcome development for all of us working in HR/L&D !

As Martyn points out:
'social networking means people getting together voluntarily in a community to share information, ideas and swap contacts. There is nothing new about this, nor is there anything new about the idea that some of the resulting outputs could have implications for their work.'

'what is new is that such sharing can take place through the Internet ..... It is beyond dispute that certain activities, which can be included in social networking, have shown exponential growth.'


'although the term social networking has caught on, it may be a misnomer. Technological networking may be a better term'

CIPD suggest that there are (at least) four major areas of application, and two consequential implications.

These areas are:

  • recruitment (to enhance access to potential candidates)
  • learning (to enhance access to subject matter experts & mentors)
  • knowledge management (to enhance the sharing and combining of expertise)
  • colleague engagement (facilitating the 'voice of employees)

Suggested implications include:

  • to what extent an organisation should control or monitor internet use
  • protection of the 'brand' of the organisation

I'd suggest that the forthcoming research should also consider:

  1. whether or not, with the globalisation of business, the statement of 'it is who you know, rather than what you know' is increasingly important for both individual and organisational success.
  2. whether or not, these 'social networking' web 2.0 technologies provide skilled networkers with valued time/labour saving tools
  3. whether or not, these 'social networking' web 2.0 technologies provide less skilled networkers with tools that build/accelerate their effectiveness in collaboration capabilities (and thus the implications for L&D !)

I'd also recommend that attention is given, not only to the implications for protecting the 'employer brand', but also to the concept of 'Employee Brand'. With the changing psychological contract (and the lack of 'a-job-for-life'), I feel the research should seek to understand the extent to which individuals want to balance their investment in both intra & inter-organisation networks. The latter being 'portable' between jobs/organisations.