Relations Between Social Capital and Use of ICT: A Social Network Analysis Approach

Relations Between Social Capital and Use of ICT: A Social Network Analysis Approach

Chantal Fuhrer (University of La Réunion, France) and Alain Cucchi (University of La Réunion, France)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 28
DOI: 10.4018/jthi.2012040102
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Abstract

This article explores the relationship between social capital in a professional network and ICT use. It examines the context in which the main ICT networks are used and shows how they are conditioned by the social capital of an individual within their professional network. To do so, different measures from Social Network Analysis are used. An exploratory study on a group of 199 students is presented. The studied Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) media are electronic mail, telephone, Skype, and Facebook. The results show the important position of an actor in the networks of exchanges. The results also show that ICT uses have different contexts involving different degrees of confidence in the network. Email is shown to be influenced by trust centrality and centrality at work while telephone is more influenced by influence centrality. The authors conclude on the prospects for future research.
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Introduction

Does our relational network have a value? That is the question that the theory of social capital proposes to treat. This theory considers that relationships established within a social network (physical and/or virtual) bring resources.

In the Information System’s point of view, the concept of relations can be considered as information exchanges. Can the Computer Mediated Communication Medias, used by members of a community, translate those relations? In other words, is the use of information and communication technologies such as electronic mail, telephones and tools like Skype/MSN and Facebook influenced by the social capital of the actors? This question will be treated by this article.

The problem of organizational communication is a multidimensional phenomenon. . A great number of studies focus on some of the aspects, yet a study of all aspects of communication does not exist. For instance, in the area of Information Systems, the relationship between technologies and usage has often been studied (De Vaujany, 2000; Desanctis & Poole, 1994; Josserand, 2001; Kalika, 2000, 2002 pp. 221-236; Limayem et al, 1997; Rowe & Beal, 1998; Rowe 2002; Yates et al., 1992; Bergeron et al., 1995; Boukef & Kalika, 2000; Crawford, 1982). Theories and research models have been proposed to understand this question (Davis, 1989; Venkatesh et al., 2003; Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975; Ajzen, 1991; Rogers, 1995). Other authors have been interested in the nature of the relationships (Lasswell, 1973, p. 699). They focused on the sender and the receiver or on both of them (Watzlawick et al., 1967; Moreno, 1970; Short et al., 1976).

Currently, knowledge about relationships between ICT and social capital is insufficient (Yang et al., 2009, p. 184). Researches on ICT usage are numerous. Nevertheless, those which consider both, the network of exchanges and the actor’s position within the network, are scarce. Sociological approaches, such as social network and social capital, aim to fill this gap and that will be this research’s perspective.

This article is about social capital within a professional network and ICT usage. It is a study in progress, which aims to provide answers to the different contexts in which the main current communication Medias are used, and to show to what extent the social capital in a professional area affects the use of electronic media. We assume that the social capital of an individual affects his use of various electronic communication media.

This article is built on five parts. The first two sections present theories used in the research model, concerning ICT use and the concept of social capital. The research model is then presented. The methodology used is described, as well as its treatment. The results are presented and discussed.

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