Public defence in Industrial Engineering and Management, Lis.Sc.(Tech) Olli-Jaakko Kupiainen

Employees promote organizational changes in enterprise social media discussions while monitoring and evaluating their workplace’s interests.

Public defence from the Aalto University School of Science, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management.
Utuisessa mustavalkoisessa kuvassa on erilaisia matkapuhelimia.

Title of the thesis: Naturally Occurring Discursive Work as a Reflection of Organizational Identification during Organizational Transformation

Doctoral student: Olli Kupiainen
Opponent: Professor Janne Tienari, Hanken School of Economics
Custos: Senior Advisor Matti Vartiainen, Aalto University School of Science, Department of Industrial Engineering and Management

When organizations must change, employees often have the best knowledge of its strengths and weaknesses. In modern organizations, enterprise social media and their discussion boards are important venues for change discussions. They enable employees to publicly express their views, ideas and concerns about their work and organization to others in the workplace. These discussions allow multiple perspectives to be expressed during the planning and implementation of significant changes. By engaging in discussions, employees take an active stance on behalf of their organization. The focus of this doctoral thesis is on employees' collective "change talk” that was generated in a corporation's internal social media platform during organizational transformation.

Employees purposefully attempt to shape or change their workplace through these discussions. They link microlevel change talk to their organization's macrolevel change efforts in change talk. Employees construct different futures and offer solutions by making "if-then" plans that would enable their organization to achieve its goals in the future. Various forms of organizational identity work present alternative interpretations of ongoing changes by highlighting the resources the organization needs to change. Finally, organizational self-efficacy, i.e., employees’ shared belief in what is achievable during changes, makes an organization's resources and potential for change visible. When employees participate in change talk on internal social media platforms, they monitor and evaluate the interests of their workplace, which is one of the motivating factors for organizational identification. In this way, they are interested in their workplace's interests, goals, and performance. In other words, they are concerned with their organization's wellbeing.

When planning changes, organizations should prioritize creating a culture where employees can publicly discuss planned or initiated changes. Employees generate multiple diverging interpretations of ongoing changes. Social media makes them visible. Despite diverging interpretations, these discussions are in the best interest of the workplace by highlighting how the organization should change and what resources and opportunities it needs in the ongoing transformation.

Keywords: Organizational changes, organizational identification, change talk, enterprise social media

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