Human resource management (HRM) can influence an organization’s human and organizational resources and provide organizational competitive advantage. E-HRM, defined as a “way of implementing HR strategies, policies, and practices in organizations through a conscious and directed support of and/or with the full use of Web-technology-based channels” (Ruël, Bondarouk, & Looise, 2004, p. 365) offers great possibilities for more successful HRM work. The group of stakeholders affected by e-HRM initiatives is frequently broader than the HR staff itself: it includes anyone who can receive updates of organizational dynamics, participate in online discussions, or choose career paths. Research shows that the most important challenge in e-HRM implementation is the required change in the mindsets of the involved HR personnel, line managers, and employees that makes such projects successful (Ruël et al., 2004). In this chapter we study how such mindsets emerge and evolve through the social relationships of the prospective users of the HRIS.
No information system (IS) can produce positive outcomes unless it is effectively adopted and used. IS research has addressed factors that affect the adoption and infusion of new IS, building on models such as the theory of planned behavior (TPB), technology acceptance model (TAM/TAM2), and innovation diffusion models (see Venkatesh, Morris, Davis, & Davis (2003) for a review). Both TPB and TAM2 incorporate constructs of the social influence that affect individual perception. Central to this line of research is that user adoption of IS innovation is ultimately determined by the user’s beliefs and attitudes toward the new IS (Venkatesh & Davis, 2000) and that these are, to an extent, socially determined.
The formation of attitudes, perceptions, intentions, and actual behavioral patterns have been shown to depend on the social relationships individuals are embedded in; social interactions and interactions of humans with the technology are vehicles for the emergence of meanings and situated use of technology. Social network researchers have shown that (changes in) behavior and beliefs of individuals may rely on the behaviors and beliefs of others in one’s social network. For example, studies suggest that employees who interact intensively, work in dense groups, or occupy similar positions in a network develop similar attitudes and behavioral patterns (Burkhardt, 1994; Leenders, 1995; Rice & Aydin, 1991; Sasovova, 2006). The relational patterns within an organization affect how attitudes toward a new IS are formed. Social networks often provide access to (privileged) information and other resources—often at higher speed than when they have to be acquired through other sources such as formal documentation, training, or sessions with management. Since the successful implementation of an e-HRM system depends on the support for the innovation by a critical mass and on the proficiency with which individuals can learn how to operate it—factors that frequently affect each other reciprocally—network processes may have an important effect on the success of HRIS implementations.
In this chapter we discuss ways in which social networks are tied to IS implementation success, building on the framework of ‘corporate social capital.’ We will consider how social networks of individuals in an organization affect attitudes toward the new system. As a caveat, this chapter is not meant to be encompassing, it only provides a cursory overview of the core literature.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Social Influence: The process in which an individual adapts his/her behavior, attitude, or belief (both intentionally and unintentionally) to the behaviors, attitudes, or beliefs of other individuals in the individual’s social network.
Social Capital: The set of resources, tangible or virtual, that accrue to an actor through the actor’s social relationships, facilitating the attainment of goals. In other words, social capital is the positive outcome of a social network.
Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB): A psychological theory about the link between attitudes and behavior. It holds that human action is guided by three kinds of considerations: own attitudes, normative expectations of others, and perceived control over the behavior.
Technology Acceptance Model (TAM): An information systems theory that models user acceptance. The model includes two main factors influencing individual IS use: perceived usefulness (will the system enhance my job performance?) and perceived ease-of-use (how difficult will it be to use the system?). TAM has been extended to include social influence and normative beliefs of others (TAM2).
Attitude: A summary evaluation of an object captured in such attribute dimension as good-bad, harmful-beneficial, pleasant-unpleasant, and likable-dislikable.
Social Network: A social structure consisting of nodes—generally individuals or organizations—and the relations among the nodes. Relations can range from casual acquaintance, advice relations to friendship or close familial bonds.