Social Media Affordances

Social Media Affordances

Francesca Cabiddu (University of Cagliarii, Italy) and Manuela De Carlo (IULM University, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9787-4.ch149
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1. Introduction

The notion of organizational capabilities has gained increasing attention in the management and Information Systems literature. They represent “the ability of an organization to perform a coordinated set of tasks, utilizing organizational resources for the purpose of achieving a particular result” (Helfat & Peteraf, 2003: 999). Tourism scholars have also embraced the construct to uncover the key capabilities required for managing tourism business networks (Lemmetyinen & Go, 2009) and to better understand the development of tourist destinations (Haugland, Ness, Grønseth, & Aarstad, 2011).

Recent work theorizes that capabilities arise not merely through the accumulation of experience but also from deliberative learning such as knowledge articulation, knowledge codification (Zollo & Winter, 2002) and explorative learning (Danneels, 2008). In this context, a firm’s Information Technology (IT) capabilities represent its ability to mobilize and deploy IT resources in combination with other resources and capabilities (Bharadwaj, 2000). Given the widespread adoption of information technologies, very few organizational capabilities can be defined without considering the integral role played by IT. Consequently, there is a growing need to understand the interplay of the technological resource and organizing efforts (Zammuto, Griffith, Majchrzak, Dougherty, & Faraj, 2007). This need is central in the tourism literature (Buhalis & Law, 2008) where the rapid development of both supply and demand makes the use of IT an imperative for industry players (Buhalis, 1998; MacKay & Vogt, 2012).

A recent line of research focuses on the socio-material approach to explain the ways in which the functionality of technological artifacts enables and constrains action (Leonardi & Barley, 2008; Orlikowski & Scott, 2008) leading to different degrees of flexibility and change in organizational structures (Zammuto et al. 2007). Particular social processes activate a technology’s material features for organizational changes through collective affordances (Leonardi, 2011b). However, despite a growing interest in the literature, we know little about the specific mechanisms through which capabilities are created and sustained (Helfat & Peteraf, 2003).

Our lack of understanding in this area of inquiry is particularly evident with respect to emerging technologies, such as social media, that provide novel opportunities for changing operational routines and create novel value. We propose to address this understudied area utilizing an affordance lens (Cabiddu, De Carlo, & Piccoli, 2014). Affordances are the products of relationships between people and technology or between organizations and technology (Hutchby, 2001; Zammuto et al., 2007). We leverage these ideas to understand how organizations, and more specifically hotels, perceive social media affordances. We then theorize the possible effects of these affordances in order to provide guidance to future research in this area.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Coperception: The simultaneous awareness of the available objects and the entity’s own characteristics.

Information Technology (IT) Capabilities: The ability to mobilize and deploy IT resources in combination with other resources and capabilities.

Affordance: “Opportunities for action” as perceived by an organism in its environment.

Technology Affordance: An emergent property of the technology-organization system that creates (or constrains) behavior.

Social media: A group of Internet-based applications which build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0 and which allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content.

Proprioception: Any experience of the entity itself.

Exteroception: The interaction between an object and the perceptual/cognitive systems of an observer.

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