How is the Appropriate Use of Enterprise Social Media Determined? The Case of GCConnex Within the Canadian Federal Government

It appears your Web browser is not configured to display PDF files. Download adobe Acrobat or click here to download the PDF file.

Click here to download the PDF file.


Wood, Donna




The success of enterprise social media depends on users' social interactions. Individual users must determine how to use the system and if their usage is appropriate. Governments are generally risk-averse, and missteps by public servants can have negative implications on their careers. This research explores how the appropriate use of enterprise social media is socially constructed in the use of GCConnex within the Canadian federal government. It addresses two research questions: What influences a public servant's individual judgment that a specific action is appropriate when using enterprise social media? And How are actions taken by public servants using ESM validated as appropriate? The use of an interpretive case study approach allowed for data collection from various sources to capture the complexity of enterprise social media use in the Canadian federal government. Data sources included the results of 22 semi-structured interviews with federal public servants plus policy and help documents. This research is guided by a conceptual process model that draws on the literature on legitimacy, IT value, IS use, and enterprise social media. This study explores the first three stages of the Appropriate Use process model - Individual Judgment, Innovation, and Local Validation. The final two stages, Diffusion and General Validation, were out of scope for this study. The findings indicate that appropriate use is a continuous and dynamic concept that is socially constructed. Appropriate use also has multiple dimensions, and in this research, three were discovered: Task, Feature and Form. Employee judgment of appropriate use is influenced by the affordances of the technology and the employee backgrounds and environment. Federal public servants carefully partition their use of social media. GCConnex is strictly for the benefit of federal public servants to share information and to collaborate. A specific appropriate use policy is not essential if there are other means to communicate organizational norms. The Values and Ethics Code for the Public Sector is foundational in forming the organizational norms of behaviour. Although employees may be reticent to comment on other users' use, explicit validation is needed to legitimize new actions. Keywords: appropriate use, legitimacy, enterprise social media, government, social construction of reality


Business Administration - Management




Carleton University

Thesis Degree Name: 

Doctor of Philosophy: 

Thesis Degree Level: 


Thesis Degree Discipline: 


Parent Collection: 

Theses and Dissertations

Items in CURVE are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. They are made available with permission from the author(s).