Social media use in organizations : exploring the emergence of a new practice : a case study on institutionalization
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- Master Thesis 
Almost a third of the world’s population use social media, and organizations show growing interest in how they can harness the potential of social media. Scholars have investigated various implications of social media use at the individual level. However, there is a substantial lack of research at the organizational level. This thesis explores how organizations institutionalize social media in a comparative study on two Norwegian organizations, Alpha and Omega, which are leading in the use of social media. Empirical findings are presented as narratives on the development of social media use, based on data collected from fourteen semi-structured interviews with employees in these two organizations. By applying qualitative research methods, we explored the development of social media use in these organizations, and identified characteristics of actions that contributed to its institutionalization. The thesis makes use of theory from Lawrence and Suddaby’s (2006) concept of institutional work in order to understand the relationship between actions and institutionalization. We identified three central factors which organizations with ambition to successfully make use of social media ought to consider. First, we found that a strong advocate for social media is required for institutionalizing the new practice. This is related to persuading others to support and accept use of social media as a normal practice in the organization. Second, we found that an environment for trial and error is essential for successful use of social media in organizations. Allowing subordinates to experiment with their work in combination with systematic evaluation, contribute to incremental progress toward appropriate use of social media. Third, collaboration across departments will ensure that use of social media as a new practice attracts a wider audience. Organizations that engage in collaboration across departments can take advantage of synergies such as more unified interaction between the organization and its users. This will facilitate acknowledgement of social media as a new practice throughout the organization.