New mom Dr Caroline Kiarie was thrilled to graduate with a PhD in Media and Cultural studies after braving regular diaper changing, breastfeeding and sleep deprivation… never mind all the study!
Kiarie examined the perceived effects of the use of social network sites (SNSs) in the workplace in Kenya and their influence on employees’ communications with colleagues.
She researched the issue from the perspectives, in various organisations, of hedonic value, social capital and employee effectiveness.
The findings establish that the sites affect office relationships and the effectiveness of employees as some spend up to five hours a day on social networking sites.
Other findings were that employees rarely befriend their bosses, men spend more time on social media than women, employees’ participation on social media is based on job security, and employees don’t feel free to participate on enterprise social media. ‘On social networks, employees maintain very small networks for personal issues while for work-related matters they have a larger network but within their departments only and really don’t seek advice outside of that,’ said Kiarie.
The conceptualisation of interpersonal organisational communication, she said, should not be limited to face-to-face contact, and recommends ways to use platforms in a productive way. WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were the most commonly used sites, with employees mainly communicating with contacts outside work and work contacts.
She argues that the ‘pervasive influence of communication technologies in Kenya cannot be ignored when conceptualising relationships within the workplace as they have become pervasive relational tools which help to gratify workers’ employment needs.’
She recommends that ‘management devise ways to increase participation or look at how to maximise on enterprise-based sites, and also how employees from different departments need to work together and create synergy within the organisation because the disconnect leads to miscommunication’.
She suggests social networking analysis be conducted in organisations and based on the results, management can build on employees’ interpersonal communication while in the workplace.
Kiarie thanked her network of family and friends for their support, and her supervisor Professor Nicola Jones for her guidance.
Advising other students, she said, ‘Choose a research topic that is of interest to you. You will discover at the beginning that most students are unsure of what exactly they are doing or the approach to take but if you have a topic that interests you as a researcher then you are on the right track. Most important is to start! Whether it’s writing down the idea, talking to others, doing applications, visiting universities….just start!’
Kiarie plans to explore post-doctoral opportunities, research more on social networks analysis, and spend time with her husband and baby. ‘I want to be an expert on social network analysis and build on my PhD work in that area,’ she added.