Jennifer Gibbs, PhD

Professor, Department of Communication
Editor, Communication Research
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-4020

Social Media and Organizational Knowledge Sharing


Julia Eisenberg (Pace University), Nik Rozaidi, Anna Gryaznova (Moscow State University), Dina Nekrassova

This project examines the role of social media tools in facilitating internal organizational knowledge sharing and collaboration processes. We are collecting data from three multinational organizations headquartered in the United States and Russia, including a high-tech engineering start-up, a software outsourcing company, and a large telecommunications company. Data include in-depth interviews, surveys, and analysis of server-log data. We are examining the strategic affordances of various social media tools and the ways in which they elicit tensions in open communication versus ambiguity and covert behavior, as well as the extent to which social media enables knowledge sharing and fosters innovation across various organizational boundaries (cultural, functional, and geographical) in distributed organizations.

Global Virtual Team Collaboration


Maggie Boyraz, Christine Goldthwaite, Young Hoon Kim, Anu Sivunen (Aalto University), Emma Nordback (Aalto University), Niclas Erhardt (University of Maine)

This project studies global virtual team processes including creativity, conflict, identity and identification, knowledge sharing, leadership, and perceptions of proximity, how they develop and the role they play in team performance. We are examining how technological affordances shape team processes as well as how these processes are constructed through discursive team practices. We also examine how team design (student versus organizational, short-term versus long-term, functional versus project-based, etc.) impacts findings and provides boundary conditions for understanding virtual teams. Data include surveys, interviews, and communication data (email, discussion board, conference call) from a number of global virtual teams.

Social Support and Control in Online Communities


Heewon Kim, Seol Ki

As online communities continue to evolve and become more technologically sophisticated, it is important to understand what factors and mechanisms give community members a sense of belonging and lead to community longevity. This project investigates the evolution of an online message board community, including the ways in which concertive control and social support mutually reinforce one another and serve to regulate and perpetuate the community. Data include ethnographic observation of an online message board community that has been in existence for over a decade, a survey of members, and textual analysis of postings. We are exploring the ways in which communication processes explain why the community has become so close-knit and endured for over a decade, despite the fact that most of its members have never met face-to-face.

Distraction and the Role of New Technologies


Terri Kurtzberg (business school)

Distraction increasingly affects us all (particularly with the increasing use of mobile and other new communication technologies). In today’s fast-paced and technologically advanced world, few people do just one thing at a time anymore. Though most people inherently understand that there is some cost to the constant multitasking they engage in, the real implications of the situation are elusive. This book (under contract with Praeger) will provide a deep look at the science behind the topic of distraction from a variety of angles to better understand its costs and benefits and the role played by new technologies in this process.

We explore questions such as: how does distraction work in the brain, and what are the cognitive impacts of multitasking? What are the implications of distraction for our personal and family relationships and for our work lives? Why are we seemingly so much more distracted as a society than in the past—and what role does technology play in this? Why is technology so addictive? Is this a universal phenomenon or culturally-specific? What are the best strategies for getting attention in an environment where others are so often distracted by something else? Reviews of research studies combine with interviews to provide a comprehensive and informative look at the topic of distraction and how to cope with it.

Online and Offline Social Connectedness


Funda Kivran-Swaine, Hyunsook Youn

This project investigates the relationship between offline and online social connectedness in Facebook and Twitter. We examine the relationship between offline and online connectedness among college students and the ways in which online participation in social network sites influences their perceived social connectedness online as well as offline. Data include surveys of SNS users, focus groups, and analysis of server-log data from Facebook and Twitter.