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Three Components Facilitating Effective Online Collaboration and Organization

Updated on February 2, 2017


Business in the 21st Century has moved online, and most of their operations are purely managed via collaborative arrangements. In essence, requires a robust and highly elaborate technical and support online and offline infrastructure. The complication further comes from the embedment of technology into our every day life: cell phones, smart devices, remote sensing technologies and social media mong others. These present the real challenge to having an effective online collaboration platform. For instance, Twitter is an excellent online collaboration tool currently used in most political protests. Prior to the social media era, individuals often suffered loneliness hence addressing concerns about the political injustices around the world was not possible. The advent of social networks, such as Twitter and Facebook have allowed activists and protesters alike to band together as a way of finding other likeminded individuals whose ideas and influence are likely to making a significant difference in the political process. Consequently, all the platforms, such Facebook and Twitter, whose presence enhance online business operations, require proper mending into the fabric of every day life. This paper outlines the areas of interest in fostering effective online collaboration, the underpinning theories as well as the challenges presented in the business gap. Demirbas, Bayir, Akcora & Yilmaz (n.d.) states, the gap is mainly due to the lack of adequate support infrastructure that is able to collaborate with the various devices in use today. Therefore, there is need for institutions to align their operations with the various capacities, resources and structures accessible and available for use by the specific institution.

Purpose of the study

The primary purpose of this paper is to explore into what facilitates effective online collaboration and organization. In its first assertion, the essay contextually explores reasons as to why the traditional information models are out-of-date, absolute and less effective in enforcing effective online collaboration and organization. Next, the paper explores what effective online and organization means, as well as the theories its processes. Here, reference to among the world’s largest informational databases such as Wikipedia has been done as to contextually position the need for effective online collaboration and organization into the context of today’s business models. Third, the paper explores the concept of electronic practice networks as a primary example both Blau (2001) and Wasko (2005)’s integrated but highly essential business models. Here, Bit Torrent will be referenced as a primary example of real world application of the model in modern e-commerce. In its final part, the paper contextually positions the digital, material world and hypermobility interaction concept by mapping it into the real world. The reference of this Sassen centred concept helps in exploring the essence and importance of this vital tool in enforcing effective online collaboration and organization with various e-commerce disaster management concepts.

To properly understand the concept of effective online collaboration and organization, one has to adequately understand institutional governance, operations and what makes institutions effective. According to Hodgson (2006), an institution is ‘any structure or mechanism of social order, governance whose operations are governed by the standards, regulations and conventions set by the individuals within the given society or community.’ In his definition, he further points out that an institution operates within a number of social realms whose presence transcends the needs of any individual in the society. As such, he points that the structural basis for the various institutional rules and standards governing the society surround religious, educational, financial and social causes. Seumas Miller another vocal author on the theme identifies four essential properties of an institution: structure, culture, functions and sanctions. The multi-dimensional institutional paradigm depicts that an institution operates within a standard platform where behaviour, responses to issues and performance are governed by rules and governance structures, cultural responses, functional capacities and various non-compliance sanctions. Hodgson (2006) further states that these paradigms define hierarchical positions of the individuals in the institutions and the flow of power and authority.

There are various reasons for individuals contributing to and sharing within a collaborative online community. Blau (2011) enlists the various motivation factors including the level of individual satisfaction, the belief in personal actions lead to some significant effect, self-efficacy, and an individualized intrinsic drive to the acquisition of knowledge. There are additionally social motivations to this, which include the desire to productively participate the realization of the collective good and communal wellbeing, the need to support other members of the community, and the sense of belonging to the specific community (Blau, 2011, p. 30). By believing that your contribution makes a difference, an individual is more motivated to participate regardless of the contribution by other community members (Blau, 2011, p. 31). Therefore, the individualized personal belief leads them to actively contributing towards the knowledge and informational gaps existent in the community, even if the reciprocity reward and other personalized social connections are absence (Wasko & Faraj, 2005, p. 39).

Though the transition to the futuristic institutional online collaboration and organization presents a hefty pack of benefits and opportunities, there is dire need to acknowledge the fair share of challenges that come with it. Shirky (2005) points out three challenges that come with the process. These are institutional dependence on paralegal and economic structures, managerial management complications and the human resource placement challenges. These among other institutional challenges lead to exclusionary structural incapacities and unnecessary inefficiencies. Consequently, these models are no longer useful in enforcing institutional ethics, discipline and performance. A further complication arises when the need to strike a perfect balance between institutional return on investment, the inherent structural incapacities/weaknesses and the creation of effective solutions to these challenges arises. In institutional governance, investors require high investment returns. Equally notable is the need to implement effective strategies aimed at eliminating the underlying challenges and inefficiencies. To ensue this into the fabric of institutional governance, there is need to adopt a fresh approach to institutional efficiency. An imperative approach to the matter is changing institutional philosophies and changing the model of enforcing institutional governance. In essence, this constitutes relationship and the use of technological tools in achieving institutional goals. This is a phenomenon clearly illustrated in a networked economy. Kelly (2003) states that technological developments and relationship management are foundational in networked economy. A perfect marriage of digital technology and social logics led to the emergence of an amalgam of both whose structure constitutes an expansive digital space (Sassen, 2004). As Sassen further notes, digital networks lead to decentralized access to resources through a distributed outcomes approach whose operations remain firmly anchored on the simultaneity and interconnectivity principles. Consequently, institutions operating on the platform enjoy greater efficiencies and trans-border possibilities for multi-dimensional spheres. In his conclusion, Sassen notes that technology in isolation cannot achieve results.

As Kelly (2003) points out, the value of a network increases with its membership. Consequently, this leads to the generation of value, worth and wealth by optimizing on the structures within the economy. If his assertion is anything to go by, institutions are able to manage their performance by managing the available relationships and technological resources. The new approach advocates for institutional efficiency through a collaborative and organizational proliferation. These grant institutions greater flexibility, empowers individuals to solve problems, reduces operational costs and removes any operational difficulties. Blau (2001) notes, this allows for the operationalization of the power-law distribution by ensuring that 80% of effects being derived from 20% of causal aspects.

Wikipedia, a world leading information database forms a modern day illustration of the perfect blend between digital technologies with the need for collaborative organizational approaches. Founded over a decade ago by Jimmy Wales, an advocate of exploitation of the value of the free and universal encyclopaedia, Wikipedia is today a revolutionary information sharing facility whose role cannot be underestimated (Arazy, Morgan & Patterson, n.d.). From the name to the quality of its works, Wikipedia is truly an aggregate informational source with a sense for quality based on a wide portfolio of authorship. Powered for success by its strong basis on the “wisdom of the crowds” model, Wikipedia continues to aggregate knowledge whose amounts supersedes the information and expertise that can be sourced from any given individual in the Wikipedia fraternity (community). Additionally, the aggregate knowledge in the community is superior to that of few experts in the community.

Blau’s theory on social capital is anchored on what can be obtained from knowing others. The most suiting example is knowledge. The theory is all about being part of a social network, having some influence and a good reputation within the group (Blau, 2011, p. 27). As an important asset, reputation enables an individual leverage on his influential ability in the community to achieve and maintain a social status (Wasko & Faraj, 2005, p. 39). The quest for a good reputation is not only a great motivator but a primary contributor for members in an online collaboration community to encourage them take part and share more knowledge freely.

Generally speaking, individual users tend to believe that if they participate, they’ll enhance their reputation as professionals, and are thus more likely to share, contribute or respond to the issues within the collaborative community (Wasko & Faraj, 2005, p. 40). For most individuals to alleviate the fears and risks involved in open-platform information sharing they end up selectively choosing their environments as to optimize their reputation and the related benefits (Arazy, Morgan & Patterson, n.d.). Thus, this can be seen as a strong basis for social capital proliferation and also encompasses credibility, loyalty, trust, value and viral communication as tools for enhancing social relationships and influence within which social networks are based (Attia, Nergis, & Mahdy, 2011).

An example of how the social capital theory relates to the efficiency of online collaboration and organization is the Egyptian “Revolution 2.0” of 2011. The direct impact of protesters and uprising was spurred by active use of social networks, and in particular Twitter. As social networks supply the community members with informational opportunities, they become more empowered and able to communicate their thoughts, recommendations, ideas or information effectively (Attia, Nergis, & Mahdy, 2011, p. 370). In effect, the perception built on trust, relationship ehnancement, loyalty and value derivation from the social media are likely to affect how an individual behaves and uses Twitter and Facebook as tools for driving change in the modern information economy (Attia, Nergis, & Mahdy, 2011, p. 372).


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