Enhancing Absorptive Capacity through Internal Collaboration with Social Media Tools

Tero Peltola

    Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisMonograph

    103 Downloads (Pure)


    The present research discusses social media and, in particular, it addresses the impact of the use of social media tool on intra-organizational collaboration. Absorptive capacity (ACAP) theory is used as the theoretical lens to provide the framework and metrics. These are further used to clarify and increase understanding of the impact of new working practices based on utilization of the online collaboration tools. The foundation of the study is qualitative and quantitative measurements of the collaboration practices; the research elaborates from those to analyze the impact of online collaboration tool implementation. Even though the interest in ACAP and social media as separate entities is already extensive, the existing literature combining the two research streams remains scarce. In particular, the combination in the context of new product development (NPD) from the internal collaboration perspective is not a well-studied stream in the literature. The present research focuses on social media tools used in intra-organizational collaboration, perceived and measurable benefits, and connects those to the bodies of the management literature through metrics. Bodies of the management literature that are synthesized in the current research, in particular the absorptive capacity theory and NPD success factors, build the foundation for the data collection. The research setting is constructed so that organizational practices are studied before and after the wide-scale roll-out of the social media tool utilizing mixed methods in terms of quantitative and qualitative approach. The research combines evidence based on three case organizations to identify the impact of social media tools’ utilization. The results suggest that new working practices inspired by the utilization of social media tools will enhance intra-organizational collaborations, particularly in terms of potential absorptive capacity (PACAP). Increased intra-organizational transparency and awareness about internal knowledge seem to help organizations unite members either to solve existing tasks or to utilize their intrinsic motivation. For example the organization can transfer information and knowledge between individuals easier and the absorptive capacity is greater as the discussions about ideas are stored in the virtual communities. In addition, results also indicate that active use of social media tools will reflect positively on NPD performance. The findings lead to both theoretical and practical contributions. The research enters the discussion about the nature of the absorptive capacity by offering metrics for measuring PACAP directly. The synthesized metrics connect communication and NPD environment to the PACAP and further to NPD performance through the conceptual model. The practical contribution is concrete findings that indicate, for example, increased transparency as the main driver and benefit for the both individual and organizational level for the adoption of social media tools. In addition, the research includes notes and observations about working practices that managers should be aware of when they decide to guide an organization to the online collaboration in the virtual world.
    Translated title of the contributionEnhancing Absorptive Capacity through Internal Collaboration with Social Media Tools
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationTampere
    PublisherTampere University of Technology
    Number of pages154
    ISBN (Electronic)978-952-15-3300-6
    ISBN (Print)978-952-15-3292-4
    Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2014
    Publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

    Publication series

    NameTampere University of Technology. Publication
    PublisherTampere University of Technology
    ISSN (Print)1459-2045


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