ArticlePDF Available

Dancing with the paradox – Social media in innovation through complexity lens



This paper discusses the social media paradox in the context of innovation. Innovation is defined as a knowledge intensive process of seeing and doing things differently, whereas social media is referred to new ways of being connected. Social media has revolutionised the ways how knowledge is produced, shared and accumulated through social interaction within the organisation and across the organisation’s boundaries. The paper presumes that social media provides new opportunities to the organisational innovation process by increasing the connectivity of people inside and outside an organisation. From the organisational perspective, however, this raises the question how social media influences – enabling or inhibiting – its ability to see and do things differently. Social media offers tempting opportunities but also poses new threats. It is a paradox involving contradictory forces. Despite of a growing interest among academics, there is a lack of understanding the possibilities of social media in the specific context of innovation. This paper fills the research gap by contributing a complexity-based interpretation of coping with the paradox engendered by social media. Seeing interaction as intrinsic to innovation activity, the paper opens the paradox of being in charge but not in control. It is argued that the paradox is not just inherent but useful for the organisation’s innovation. The paradox entailed by social media is useful because it maintains mutually useful exclusive opposites and immunises the organisation against mutually detrimental reinforcing opposites. Promoting the presence of contradictory attributes social media creates a balance between controllability and uncontrollability. The paper concludes that the usefulness of social media in innovation depends on how it enables the coexisting processes of order and disorder.
Turku University of Applied Sciences
aisenkatu 30, 20520 Turku, Finland
Published 25 November 2014
This paper discusses the social media paradox in the context of innovation. Innovation is
dened as a knowledge intensive process of seeing and doing things differently, whereas
social media refers to new ways of being connected. Social media has revolutionised the
ways how knowledge is produced, shared and accumulated through social interactions
within the organisation and across the organisations boundaries. From an organisational
perspective, this raises the question of how social media inuences enabling or
inhibiting its ability to see and do things differently. Social media offers tempting
opportunities but also poses new threats. It is a paradox involving contradictory forces.
Despite growing interest among academics, there is a lack of understanding of the pos-
sibilities of social media in the specic context of innovation. This paper lls the research
gap by arguing that complexity concepts offer a new type of language to understand social
media. Seeing interaction as intrinsic to innovation activity, complexity thinking opens the
paradox of being in charge but not in control.
Keywords: Innovation; social media; complexity theory; paradox.
The claim is that social media results in novel ways of doing business based on
new kind of collaboration within and across organisations. As social media entails
rapid growth in the volume, velocity and variety of information, it is expected to
provide new possibilities for innovation too. Some enthusiasts are even witnessing
the advent of collaborative organisation in which employees, customers and other
stakeholders create spontaneously some kind of micro-scale innovation networks
which can be exploited for solving many resource problems (e.g., Morgan,2012).
A positive interpretation of social media draws on the thought that social media
International Journal of Innovation Management
Vol. 19, No. 1 (February 2015) 1550014 (26 pages)
© Imperial College Press
DOI: 10.1142/S1363919615500140
has provided new possibilities for the internal use of external knowledge as well as
for the external exploitation of internal knowledge. Social media extends orga-
nisations because it has created new possibilities to engage with stakeholders both
internally and externally. It has been suggested that organisations can foster in-
novation through social media (Kohler et al.,2009;Jussila et al.,2012). Social
networking encourages people to share their knowledge and expertise (Ferreira
and du Plessis,2009;Vuori and Okkonen,2012), which may enhance collabo-
ration and innovation (Porta et al.,2008;Kohler et al.,2009;Standing and Kiniti,
2011). In this sense, social media resonates with the idea of open innovation
(Chesbrough,2003), which emphasises interactions between different actors as
fertile sources of innovation. However, the realisation of the innovation potential,
which social media provides, is not an easy task. Presumably social media is not a
panacea which by itself automatically translates information ows into new pro-
ducts and services. It means not only new possibilities but also new threats to
organisationsinnovation processes.
A rather common view is that social media means less controllability and more
unpredictability (Bernoff and Li,2008). The more open and social organisations
are, the more vulnerable they become. It has been suggested that for organisations,
social media means a lose control of their content and the reach, frequency and
timing of the distribution of their messages(Mangold and Faulds,2009). Met-
aphorically social media punctures holes into organisationswalls making them
more transparent, which, in turn, increases for example the possibility of losing
condential information. It seems that social media as many other organisa-
tional artefacts (Cameron,1986)involves a paradox, it is simultaneously both
a solution and problem. Contrary to situations involving dilemmas, dichotomies,
dualities and conicts which all imply the reduction of contradictions into one or
two independent alternatives, the paradox refers to situations where there are no
need for choice to be made between contradictions (Cameron,1986). The paradox
accepts the simultaneous presence of opposing contradictions. When applied to
social media, the paradox arises, for example, from the fact that while social media
expands the information pool from which to draw decisions, it also simultaneously
generates contradictory information that makes it difcult to achieve consensus.
Depending on ones perspective, social media involves potentiality to improve
knowledge productivity, or contrary, it may yield to the loss of productivity
if workers fall down to virtual hanging around. Although social media gives
organisations a powerful platform to harness their innovation potential, it also
complicates organisationsinnovation processes. Social media promises novel
possibilities for organisations, though it is still a poorly understood phenomenon.
It has been argued that managers eschew or ignore social media, because they do
not understand the various forms it can take and how to engage with it (Kietzmann
H. Jalonen
et al.,2011). Particularly lacking is the understanding of the possibilities of social
media in the specic context of innovation (Kärkkäinen et al.,2010).
This paper lls the research gap by exploring and discussing the paradox of
social media in organisationsinnovation processes its causes, symptoms and
possible remedies. Particularly, the paper addresses the paradox of managing
unpredictable behaviour. The paper asks: What does it mean to be in charge but
not in control of innovation process in the social media age?
Instead of associating the paradox with negative connotations, the paper
addresses the paradox as natural component of organisational activities. The aim is
to introduce a theoretically grounded interpretation for the paradox of social media
in innovation, whereby a more complete description and understanding of the
tensions are revealed (cf. Van de Ven and Poole,1988). In doing so, the paper also
touches on the discussion of productivity paradox of information technology
initiated by Solow (1987) and analysed and popularised thereafter by Brynjolfsson
(1993). Instead of arguing the productivity of social media per se, the paper draws
on the idea that organisations must accept and exploit rather than deny and ignore
paradoxes inherent in social media.
Methodologically, this paper uses theory driven conceptual approach, as the
aim is to analyse the paradoxes of social media in innovation through complexity
thinking. Complexity thinking is used as the art of maintaining the tensions
between pretending we know something, and knowing we know nothing for sure
(Richardson,2008). Complexity thinking refers herein to an amalgam of different
theories and approaches which emphasise the change from systemic to hetero-
geneous thinking and which are proven to be useful when studying the disorder
order transitions. Complexity thinking was chosen as a theoretical lens for the
paper for ve reasons: (1) social media and complexity thinking both are inclined
to acknowledge the central role of interaction in creating knowledge (Desai, 2010);
(2) complexity thinking is useful for understanding the emergence of new patterns
(i.e., innovation) through interactions in locallevel (Fonseca,2002); (3) com-
plexity thinking resonates with the idea of paradox accepting that the paradox
cannot be resolved, only endlessly transformed (Aasen,2009); (4) complexity
thinking allows exploring new approaches to innovation as it has not previously
been applied in the context of social media; (5) complexity has risen during the last
twenty years as one of the most potential approaches in organisational studies
(Oswick et al.,2011).
This paper is structured as follows. The second section provides conceptual
foundations. The third section discusses the dual nature of social media within
innovation. The fourth section presents complexity-based interpretation of coping
with the paradox of being charge but not in control. Finally, in the fth sections
conclusions are drawn.
Dancing with the Paradox
Conceptual Foundation
Paradox Mutually exclusive elements operating simultaneously
The existence of paradox has been a pervasive theme in the management litera-
ture, particularly in the eld of organisational change (Cameron and Quinn,1988;
Eisenhardt,2000). Without exception paradoxes are seen as inseparable elements
of the management. Paradox is a situation in which contradictory, mutually
exclusive elements are present and operate at the same time(Cameron and
Quinn,1988). Conventional organisational paradoxes found in literature includes,
among others, knowledge exploration versus knowledge exploitation (March,
1991), explicit knowledge versus tacit knowledge (Nonaka and Takeuchi,1995),
single loop learning versus double loop learning (Argyris and Schön,1978),
cooperation versus competition (Lechner and Dowling,2003), control versus
autonomy (Starbuck,1992) formal versus emergent strategies (Stacey,1993),
openness versus closure (Kast and Rosenzweig,1985), strong versus weak ties
(Granovetter,1973). Paradoxes are tricky as there is no way to solve them. Par-
adox involves two poles which pull the things at hand to opposite directions.
Knowledge exploration, for example, is characterised as searching, risk taking,
playing, experimenting, discovering and innovating, whereas knowledge exploi-
tation is an organisational activity based on renement, selection, implementation
and execution (March,1991). Exploration deals with unknown, while exploitation
address to known. Taken singly, both knowledge exploration and exploitation are
needed and incontestably true(cf. Van de Ven and Poole,1988), but taken
together they become inconsistent. The problem is as Van de Ven and Poole
(1988) have incisively pointed out that if unacknowledged [] a paradox can
drive [] practitioners to emphasize one pole over the other in an attempt to
maintain an elusive consistency.
As tricky as they are, however, the paradoxes can also be used for increasing
understanding of management challenges. Chae and Bloodgood (2006), for ex-
ample, have found that paradox forces focus on both poles of the paradox rather
than focusing on just one. In innovation context, for example, focusing on the
explicit knowledge without simultaneously considering tacit knowledge provides
an incomplete view of the potential use of the organisations knowledge resources.
This is because innovation process involves several knowledge problems varying
from lack of factual knowledge to lack of interpretative knowledge (Jalonen,
2013). During the innovation process, there are times when the focus should be on
effective exploitation of knowledge stored in information systems (McAdam,
2000), and then there are times when the problems at hand can be solved only by
deliberative discussions which draw on tacit knowledge including tactile experi-
ences, intuition and unarticulated mental models (Nonaka and von Krogh,2009).
H. Jalonen
Without the acceptance of the co-existence and interdependence of two poles, the
risk is that the organisation is trying to maintain an elusive consistency (Van
de Ven and Poole,1988). Polesinuences on each other will be missed or ignored
if a paradoxical view was not used (Chae and Bloodgood,2006).
Van de Ven and Poole (1988) have presented four methods that can be used in
studying organisational paradoxes. The rst method they have named as to accept
the paradox and learn to live with it, the second one as to resolve paradoxes by
clarifying levels of reference and the connections among them, the third one as
to take the role of time into account, and the fourth one as to introduce new
terms or a new logic to paradox, whereby a more complete description and
understanding of the tensions are revealed. According to Van de Ven and Poole
(1988), the rst method serves as a kind of preliminary step to the other three.
Applying the theory-driven conceptual approach, this paper combines the rst
and fourth method to explore and discuss social media paradoxes in innovation
Innovation Open and democratised and therefore complex process
Many studies have shown that an organisations ability to innovate is one of the
most important sources of competitive advantage. Innovation is typically heavily
laden with positive values and almost without doubt, innovations are considered
good not only for organisations but also for societies as a whole a story tells
that with innovation comes progress. A positive interpretation of innovation traces
back to the work of Joseph Schumpeter (1911, 1942), who argued that seeing and
doing things differently is a general driving force producing creative destruc-
tion. By creative destruction he, in turn, referred to an economic process in which
the old ways of doing things are endogenously destroyed and replaced by new
ways. In creative destruction the existing power derived from previous techno-
logical, organizational, regulatory and economic paradigms is replaced by new
forms engendered by innovation. Dening innovation as endogenous process has
signicant practical and theoretical implications. From practical point of view, it
means that opportunities which originate, for example, from developments of
technology or changes in socio-economic environments are in the last resort de-
pendent upon the interpretations made by organisations themselves. Opportunities
are created and also exploited by the innovation process itself (cf. Sarasvathy and
Venkataraman, 2010). From theoretical point of view, it means that emphasis
should focus on the process by which organisations interpret various and often
contradictory information cues. Particularly, in the age of social media, a topical
question is what kind of sensemaking processes (Weick,1995) the external in-
formation may trigger within organisations.
Dancing with the Paradox
Innovation research has matured substantially since the days of Schumpeter.
From this papers perspective, three signicant intellectual changes have hap-
pened within innovation research during the past decades. First, the modern
innovation literature claims that innovation takes place in open and co-opera-
tive settings between different stakeholders. One landmark of this change in
thinking was Henry Chesbroughs book of open innovation (2003) which
gathered both researchersand practitionersattention to the inows and out-
ows of knowledge to accelerate organisationsinnovation. Open innovation
can be seen as a contrast to the traditional outlook in which research and
development operations lead to internally developed products distributed by the
same organisation. The basic idea is that the organisations external information
may be just as valuable as its internal information, and the organisations
internal information (particularly that which is unused) should be openly dis-
tributed outside the organisation.
Second, Eric von Hippel (2005) has argued that we are living in the middle of
change in which customers are transforming from consumers to (co)creators.
Hippels concept democratizing innovationis based on a rather simple but
revolutionary idea that users of products and services themselves know the best
how the products and services actually meet their needs and how products and
services should be improved. Moreover, the benets of improving products and
services are not restricted just to the revampers themselves but spread wider. As
von Hippel has stated individual users do not have to develop everything they
need on their own: they can benet from innovations developed and freely shared
by others. Later on von Hippel has (2012) estimated that consumers (calling them
incisively as backyard Edisons) collectively invest more in their innovation
efforts than the largest corporation anywhere does in R&D. Although this kind of
calculation is prone to error, the ongoing transformation process resembles the
prediction made by Alvin Tofer. Tofer predicted as early as 1980 the rise of a
society of prosumers. Tofer identied various forms of prosumers but common
for all of them is that the role of producers and consumers are blurring and
merging in a way which inevitably transforms the relationship between the rm
and the customer. It has been suggested that rms do not create value for custo-
mers anymore but with customers.
Third, instead of seeing innovation from rational and linear perspectives, a
growing number of innovation studies argue that innovations are nonlinear pro-
cesses characterised by complexity and uncertainty (Van de Ven et al.,1999;
Fonseca,2002;Aasen,2009;Jalonen,2012). Conceptualising innovation as a
complex interaction is based on innumerable studies whose common denominator
is the understanding of innovation as an implemented new idea whose inception
and distribution are resolved in the interfaces between various actors. It has been
H. Jalonen
demonstrated that through computer simulations, nonlinear interactions have the
potential of leading to both continuity and transformation at the same time (Van
de Ven et al.,2000). Innovations are emergent and result if at all from
dynamic interaction and feedback processes both within the organisation and
between the organisation and its surrounding environment. Presumably, the
challenges and mysteries around innovation have not, at any rate, decreased since
the innovation processes have crossed organisational boundaries.
Social media Collective intelligence through social interaction
A bit pointedly, it can be argued that many behaviours that sociologists study are
nowadays taking place in social media. Seemingly, social media has become a
sweeping phenomenon with cultural, societal and economic consequences. In a
way social media is not an alternative to real life, but it is part of it (Shirky,2010).
Its history has dated back to the 1970s as social networking site that brought
together online diary writers into one community (Kaplan and Haenlain,2010).
Nowadays, a cautious estimation is that there are hundreds of different social
media platforms including, among others, ratings and reviews, media and le
sharing, social networking, crowdsourcing, social bookmarking, (micro)blogging
and shared workspaces, and the number of social media is growing exponentially.
At present, social media refers to a constellation of shared technologies that
derive their value from the participation of users through directly creating original
content, modifying existing material, contributing to a community dialogue and
integrating various media together to create something unique (Tapscott and
Williams,2007). A widely acknowledged view is that social media has changed
the ways how organisations communicate (publish and share content), collaborate
(collectively create content) and connect (network with other people and organi-
sations) (Lietsala and Sirkkunen,2008;Vuori,2011). Through social media,
organisations can acquire inspiration from their customers, suppliers and other
stakeholders. Social media means also new possibilities for testing the ideas that
are being developed within the organisation before their launch on the market.
Conventional wisdom has been that, due to social media, organisations are
obliged to change their behaviour. Instead of viewing the relationship between
social media and its consequences as causal (technological imperative), this paper
prefers the emergent perspective (cf. Markus and Robey,1988). It means that the
use and consequences of social media emerge unpredictably from complex
interactions. Social media has not caused new behaviours, but it has allowed them.
Although the behaviour or consequences of social media cannot be predicted
a priori (cf. Pfeffer,1982), it is, however, expected to have profound implications
particularly to organisationsknowledge processes. It has provided new
Dancing with the Paradox
possibilities to the internal use of external knowledge as well as to the external
exploitation of internal knowledge. Adapting Chesbrough (2003), social media has
provided new ways to the internal use of external knowledge (inbound knowledge)
and external exploitation of internal knowledge (outbound knowledge). The
promise of social media for innovation is explicit: Innovations are created when
capabilities and ideas possessed by different stakeholders are combined through
social media. Social media involves the potential of collective intelligence.
Collective intelligence refers to distributed intelligence, which arises from the
collaboration and competition of many individuals (Levy,1997;Garrido,2009;
Salminen,2012). It has been suggested that collective intelligence enables orga-
nisations to build on experience and avoid reinventing the wheel (Britt and Kreyer,
2011) and helps to facilitate the management of innovation (Svobodová and
Complexity theory Emergence is the product of interaction
Collective intelligence cannot be planned but it emerges from the process where
two or more individuals interact. Due to nonlinear feedback (Richardson,2008)
predicting human behaviour is difcult (or impossible). The interplay between the
individuals produces the emergence of outcomes which cannot be predicted on the
basis what is known about individuals. Emergence is product of interaction. For
innovation this has two implications: rst, attention should be paid to the inter-
action processes between different actors, and second, an open systemsview
(instead of closed system) of the innovation processes should be favoured.
Interaction processrefers herein to the activities of the actors i.e., people;
representing themselves and/or organisations (de Boer and Bressers,2011)
whereas open systemsview includes the idea that resources ow into and out of
the organisation and that the system is embedded in larger systems (Maula,2006).
Stressing the signicance of the interaction and the open systems view implies that
disturbances and triggers originating outside the organisation are processed en-
dogenously by the actors in the organisation.
Instead of a unied theory, complexity lensrefers to a wide set of concepts
that can be used to explore the dynamics of organisations (Mitleton-Kelly,2003).
Complexity thinking means a multi-disciplinary approach in which comprehen-
sive, holistic thinking replaces a world-view where simplifying causal relations
and reductionism as well as a linear time concept, control over matters and
predictability are emphasised. The emergence engendered from interactive rela-
tionships between various phenomena is seen in complexity thinking as a natural
and fundamental part of the activity. In other words, complexity theory offers a
structural (systemic) understanding of complexity(Morcöl,2010). Complexity
H. Jalonen
manifests itself in the relationships and interdependencies between actors, and the
systemic wholes they constitute together (Morcöl,2010). Hence, it can be argued
that contrary to the conventional notion of thinking, which stresses the achieve-
ment of an optimal or best solution to problems, the complexity lens indicates that
we need to think about the conditions that facilitate the pro-innovationemer-
gence. Instead of seeing innovation as a rationalprocess that consists of con-
secutive acts of creation and adoption of novelty, intended to lead to value creation
both for the creating and the adopting organisations(Aasen,2009), it can be
supposed that innovation emerges from complex intra- and inter-organisational
interaction processes.
In complexity thinking, the utilisable terminology depends on the perspective
and what is being examined. Richardson (2008) has identied three complexity
schools: (i) the neo-reductionist school seeking to reveal the general principles
of complex systems likened to the fundamental eld equations of physics, (ii)
the metaphorical school using complexity language as means for providing a
powerful lens through which to see organizationsand management issues, (iii)
the critical pluralist school focusing more on what we cannot explain than what
can be explained, , when trying to understand the world around us. This paper
exploits the metaphorical reading of complexity thinking. To avoid anything goes
relativismtypical for metaphorical school (Richardson,2008), the paper also
draws on critical pluralism. Within the context of innovation, relevant complexity
concepts may be considered to be, at minimum, self-organisation, emergence,
feedback processes, nonlinearity, connectivity and diversity.
In the following, the paper presents a short description of the conceptschar-
acteristics based especially on works by Mitleton-Kelly (2003); Aasen (2009) and
Stacey (2010). Self-organisation refers to a more or less spontaneous process
without externally applied coercion or control. Self-organisation consists of phases
such as production of uncertainty, chaos, reduction of uncertainty and, nally, new
organisation. Emergence manifests itself as a complex organisational structure
growing out of simple rules. Emergence refers to the coming-into-being of novel,
higherlevel structures, patterns, processes, properties, dynamics and laws, and
how this more complex order arises out of the interactions among components that
make up the whole itself. Feedback processes are reexive inuence patterns that
arise from the interaction within the organisation and between the organisation and
its environment. Without feedback there is no emergence or self-organisation.
Nonlinearity implies that the behaviour may not depend on the values of the initial
conditions. Dynamic interactions are nonlinear i.e., minor changes can produce
disproportionately major consequences and vice versa. Nonlinear behaviour is
unexpected, unplanned, unfamiliar sequences that may or may not be visible or
comprehensible. Connectivity points out that actions by any individual may affect
Dancing with the Paradox
(constrain or enable) the related individuals. This means that the whole is not to be
found in its parts. Diversity is the state or quality of being different. Diversity
spreads as a result of interdependencies. It has also been suggested that diversity is
the prerequisite source for unpredictable self-organising. Adapting Van de Ven
and Poole (1988) and Chae and Bloodgood (2006), the power of complexity
lensis that they can serve as new terms or a new logicto paradox. In the next
section, above mentioned complexity concepts are used for describing some
consequences of social media in innovation.
Social Media Two Sides of the Same Coin
Complexity oriented literature identies two premises for self-organisation which
also support both the usage of social media in innovation. First, self-organisation is
a process which needs energy. In the case organisation, this energy comes from
information. Social media promotes self-organisation because it potentially
removes the frictions in the access to a diverse set of information and knowledge.
This kind of thinking is explicitly present in the literature of innovation and social
media. Many researchers have argued that by engaging customers and other ex-
ternal stakeholders in innovation processes, organisations are able to increase
needed diversity (Berthon et al.,2007;Gorry and Westbrook,2011;Li and
Bernoff,2011). This is because customers commonly have ideas which organi-
sations have not thought of yet. Through social media, consumers become in-
volved in the modication of proprietary products and services, and the
distribution of these innovations. Social media is an appropriate context for cus-
tomer stories, which can be used for stimulating and challenging organisational
wisdom. The power of customer stories is that they serve as invitations to see
situations from otherspoints of view. By enabling customer stories to be heard,
social media helps to see things in a new light. Some have found that organisations
which have connected with customers through social media are amazed how
quickly they can generate ideas (Li and Bernoff,2011). The same holds true for
intra-organisational information ows. Schneckenberg (2009) and Vuori and
Okkonen (2012), for example, have shown that social media enables collaboration
within organisations in a way which helps to come up with new insight and
understanding. Second, it has been argued that self-organisation when under-
stood as the interaction of individuals is always local. It means that at any point
in time, individuals interact with only a small fraction of the total population of
some community (Aasen,2009;Stacey,2010). Worth noticing is that localdoes
not necessary mean that people are geographically located in the same place
local interaction can also happen virtually. When conceptualising social media as a
H. Jalonen
specic time and space, it can be seen as providing the energy, quality and context
to perform not only knowledge sharing activities, but also interpretation of am-
biguous information cues (cf., Nonaka et al.,2000). Social media multiplies the
possibilities for self-organisation as it expands the local interaction.
Self-organisation produces emergent behaviour, meaning a complex organisa-
tional structure growing out from the properties of its parts. In everyday language
emergencehas conventionally been encapsulated into the phrases as things just
happenand the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. However, as
Richardson (2008) has argued these repetends imply too simplistic view of
emergence. This is because the new entities and wholes emerging include novel
properties in relation to the properties the constituent parts have. The emergent
entity is not just composed of constituent parts. Emergent entities can interact with
the parts from which they emerged (Richardson,2008). The process known as
downward causation means that the emergent entity also exerts some degree of
inuence or constraints on its components (Blitz,1992;Richardson,2008).
Emergence results from the process where each individual continually decides
with which other actors it will engage, and what information and other resources it
will exchange with them. This is congruent with many studies which have shown
that social media have engendered radically new ways of interacting within and
across organisations (e.g., Constantinides and Fountain,2008;Yates and Paquette,
2011;Kietzmann et al.,2011; Hanna et al., 2011). By providing a context for
ongoing individual dialogues and narratives to be preserved, retained and shared,
social media may transform organisationscommunication culture more pro-
foundly and long-lastingly. The decisions made in local level lead to global pat-
terns and vice versa.
Redeeming the promise related to self-organisation and emergence requires that
interaction is responsive in character. Responsiveness refers to interaction which
enables a situation where the ideas presented can be questioned and compared in a
fair atmosphere, and where the actors are ready to surrender their own thought-
steering psychic prisons (Popper,1996). In responsive interaction, the idea of one
objective truth is rejected. In the place of one right solution, responsive interaction
accepts the variety of subjective interpretations, which are also utilised (Stacey,
2010). Questioning and comparing ideas in the interpretation based on complexity
theory is a matter of benecially applying feedback processes. Via feedback
processes, the organisations internal and external information is conveyed as part
of innovation activities. In complexity thinking, feedback is typically divided into
positive and negative feedback. Positive feedback concerns feedback that corro-
borates the impacts of information, whereas negative feed is balancing in character.
Both forms of feedback are needed in innovation: positive feedback stimulates the
organisation, providing the seeds of innovation, whereas negative feedback
Dancing with the Paradox
enables to rectify the course of actions when needed. While positive feedback
generates disorder, it also generates new possibilities and promotes seeing dif-
ferently. Correspondingly, negative feedback creates order by restricting alter-
natives, thereby supporting circumstances where seeing differentlybecomes
doing differently. Hence, the information transmitted in the feedback processes
can be seen as a necessary condition for needed renewal in innovation operations.
The importance of feedback processes is also widely recognised in social media
literature. Seemingly, social media provides new possibilities to give and receive
immediate feedback, which, in turn, enhances innovation (Johannessen and Olsen,
2010;Jussila et al.,2012). From the feedback perspective, the potential value of
social media is that it removes time delays and physical distance (Lampela and
Kärkkäinen,2008). Social media is also an important factor from the perspective
of democratisation of innovation (von Hippel,2005) as it makes it easier for people
to understand how they can give feedback (Denyer et al.,2011). On the whole, it
seems that consumers feel more engaged with organisations when they are able to
give feedback (Mangold and Faulds,2009). Feedback processes multiply the
connectivity within the organisation and between the organisation and its envi-
ronment. A circular dependency relationship is typical of feedback processes: This
means that the result of the previous situation is the stake in the following one. In
other words, what has happened before is included, and continues, in what happens
Open and dynamic innovation is based on the idea of interaction and knowl-
edge sharing within and across organisational boundaries. An underlying pre-
sumption is that innovation can be achieved when a diverse set of individuals with
different knowledge bases are brought together. It is supposed that interaction
between heterogeneous individuals creates auspicious conditions for innovation to
happen. The reason is that ows from outside of the organisation may raise
awareness of possible problems previously unrecognised (Gorry and Westbrook,
2011). Social media has increased the organisations diversity as it creates more
opportunities to engage heterogeneous individuals into the organisations inno-
vation processes.
However, it should be noted that social media does not necessarily mean
positive development. For example, an emergent whole can be less than the sum of
its parts and the inuence of nonlinear feedback processes may be exposed as a
limiting factor for organisational innovation. Information exchange within and
across organisations may produce unintended and unwanted consequences. This
is the case when, for example, an organisation exposes itself to informal social
media discussions about its products and services. Disorder arises if the tone of the
discussions contradicts the existing knowledge of the organisation. Instead of
enhanced knowledge base for innovation, the external information and customer
H. Jalonen
experiences can be interpreted as a threat to the organisations stability. This is not
groundless fear as many studies suggest that social media provides an ideal context
for muckraking and spreading bad news (Zaslow,2010;Fournier and Avery,
2011;Park et al.,2012). Social media offers opportunities for discussion of shared
interest in ways which cannot be controlled by the organisation: everything that
can be exposed will be exposed for all intents and purposes(Fournier and
Avery,2011). One obvious consequence of uncontrollability is abundance of
information. Denyer et al.,(2011), for example, have found that social media
creates information overload and ambiguity about what information is vital and
what is trivial. In addition to overload of information, social media also underpins
the complexity of information (Ahlqvist et al.,2010). This is because the stories
told in social media include not just factual knowledge, but also biased informa-
tion, rumours and urban legends. The point is, as Sax (2006) has put it: the stories
do not necessarily need to be believed in order to act. At worst case, organisations
nd themselves bombarded with information too much, too fast, too late
(cf., Edmunds and Morris,2000).
Although the interaction is local by its nature, it has also been suggested that,
in the age of social media, what is local almost inevitably becomes global, whether
the organisation wishes it to or not (Berthon et al.,2012). Social media has meant
the loss of control and increase of unpredictability (Bernoff and Li,2008). The
power has been taken from organisations by the individuals and communities that
create, share, and consume blogs, tweets, and so forth (Kietzmann et al.,2011).
Seemingly, things just happen without one particular reason. This means that
although individual decisions may seem intentional, the emerging whole is the
opposite of intention. A vast majority of the literature dealing with social media
recognises the unpredictability of what will emerge when organisations open their
borders to the ows of information and knowledge.
Worth noting is that feedback does not primarily refer to conscious, planned
operations; rather, it refers to the experience of the actors. Feedback is therefore a
question of a similar phenomenon which Watzlawick et al.,(1967) have described
with the expression one cannot not communicate. Many authors in the eld
of social media have emphasised that most organisations have no choice: they
cannot remain nonparticipants, because their customers and other stakeholders
participate anyway. A concept of groundswell(Bernoff and Li,2008) has been
provided to refer to a social trend in which people use technologies to get the
things they need from each other, rather than from companies. Similarly, it has
been argued that social media enables customers to talk to one another and extends
traditional word-of-mouth communication (Mangold and Faulds,2009). Both
groundswell and word-of-mouth communication originate from the same roots: A
myriad of local interactions between individuals bring about a chain of events that
Dancing with the Paradox
progress nonlinearly. The signicance of the feedback processes promoted by
social media lies in that they enable the multiplication of small inuential changes.
If things go badly, the disappointed customers may produce negative information
about organisationsproducts and spread it through their networks in the speed of
light (Park et al.,2012). That is to say that social media increases the nonlinear
characteristics of interaction as it multiplies the effects of initial condition. Instead
of collective wisdom (Briskin et al.,2009), negative information can be considered
more of a threat than a possibility and where ideas that contrast with the existing
power structure are rejected (March,1994). It means that the organisation does not
encounter its customers in the way that they are able to come to new insights that
were not available based on information from one source. The result can be called
as innovation inertia(cf., Herbig and Kramer,1993)the emergent pattern
where renewal is based mostly on information, which reasserts the old power
structures between and within organisations. In the stage of innovation inertia,
the organisation fails to maintain its openness and diversity, which are typically
considered to be among the basic tasks of any organisation, if it is to be innovative.
Information provided for external stakeholders does not necessarily lead to more
innovation. Quite contrary, increased information may set up a nonlinear process
where the organisation nestles itself. The emergence includes the possibility that
the whole is less than its parts.
As shortly described above, social media involves two poles pulling opposite
directions. On one hand, social media opens up a vast range of possibilities to
enlarge and diversify the organisations knowledge base and hence potentially
improve its innovation process. On the other hand, social media has entailed new
threats such as information overload and information leakages which also have
consequences for the organisations innovation practices. With social media come
both positive and negative consequences. Seemingly, social media is a paradox
meaning contradiction in the sense of the simultaneous presence of opposing
forces, tensions or ideas, which cannot be resolved, nor eliminated (cf., Stacey,
2007). Although there is no option involving functional choice between opposing
tensions, the organisation must act. Therefore, instead of providing resolution to
the (insoluble) paradox entailed by social media, this paper explores next the way
of dealing with a paradox using complexity lens.
Coping with the Paradox of Being in Charge but not in Control
Social media opens organisations in a new way. By exposing itself to new in-
formation, the organisation pushes itself towards to the situation described in
complexity literature as far-from-equilibrium(Mitleton-Kelly,2003). In a state
H. Jalonen
of far-from-equilibriumthe organisation nds itself in a zone between stable and
chaotic states. Stable and chaotic states form poles pulling the organisation to
opposite directions. Intuitively thinking, this may sound like an unpleasant situ-
ation. However, far-from-equilibriumenables the organisation to poise itself at a
position of optimum tness (Murray,2003). Interpreted through complexity lens,
the far-from-equilibriumis a typical paradox which contains seeds for good or
bad. Far-from-equilibriumimplies the simultaneous presence of order- and
disorder-generating elements. Boisot (1999) has described the dual nature of far-
from-equilibriumas a state which enables the organisations two directions at the
same time, towards fossilisationand disorganisation. Disorganisation al-
beit a concept with negative connotation is prerequisite for the emergence of
new order.
The interplay between disorder and order is fundamental feature of innovation
process (e.g., Fonseca,2002;Mitleton-Kelly,2006;Aasen,2009). Mitleton-Kelly
(2006) and Aasen (2009) have described innovation as a chain where the pro-
duction of information is followed by imbalance or chaos, necessitating the
reduction of the amount of information, which nally enables the emergence of
novelty i.e., innovation. Parallelly, Fonseca (2002) has characterised the self-
organisation as a process of producing misunderstanding. For Fonseca (2002)
misunderstandingmeans the dissipation occurring in conversations in which
individuals expose themselves to new information. Common for above-mentioned
interpretations is that they both are based on the logic that information acts as
driving force pushing organisations towards disorder, which, in turn, is seen as a
prerequisite for creating (new) order, innovation. However, the paradox is, as
Mitleton-Kelly (2003) and many others have suggested, disorder is necessary but
not sufcient condition for order creation. Sometimes self-organisation does not
simply happen, meaning that disorder becomes more or less permanent chaos
(or innovation inertia).
The concept of emergence provides a useful approach to disorderorder dy-
namics of innovation process. This is because it forces us to abandon rational and
linear perspective and to accept the messiness of innovation. Instead of aiming to
nd out how innovation should happen, emergence perspective helps to under-
stand how innovation actually does happen. Inspired by the so-called Minnesota
studies (Van de Ven et al.,2000), Fonseca (2002) and (Aasen,2009) have argued
that innovation does not come from intentional acts per se. Rather they emerge as
the consequence of uncertain processes of communicative negotiations between
intentional individuals within and across organisations. Emergence happens in
social process and it is opposite of intention (Stacey,2007). This is not to argue
that people do not have intentions they have, but people must negotiate their
intentions with other people pursuing other intentions (Aasen,2009). The process
Dancing with the Paradox
is illogicaland politicalas it contains not only factual knowledge, but also
reection, emotion, imagination and conict (Aasen,2009). To understand this,
emergence can be split into two intertwined cognitive processes: particularisation
and generalisation. Particularisation denotes local interaction, whereas generali-
sation refers to global patterning (Stacey,2007;Aasen,2009; originally Mead,
1967). Particularisation enables people to come to what they are actually going to
do in a specic, contingent situation(Aasen,2009). The human capacity to
generalise the particularities, in turn, makes the task of participating in complex
social acts more manageable (Aasen,2009). Particularisation and generalisation
processes are intertwined meaning that no individual can avoid being in local
interaction, where they at the same time express both particularised and gener-
alised themes (Aasen,2009). This means that at the same time when individuals
contribute to local level operations their actions inuence generalised themes,
which, in turn, enable or constrain further action in local level. Individuals are
generalising as they are particularising and vice versa (Aasen,2009). Both parti-
cularisation and generalisation processes are important in innovation: particular-
isation makes different interpretations and conicts visible; generalisation diverts
attention from particularities and from the local level to global patterning by
informing the rightway to do things.
The above-mentioned indicates that the interest in the innovation process
should be directed towards the patterning processes of local self-organising
communicative interaction from where the global pattern emerges. However, as
hinted previously, self-organisation does not always lead to desirable emergence.
The paradox is that in certain conditions information provided through social
media pushes organisation to far-from-equilibriumimplying the emergence of
novelty (i.e., innovation), while in other circumstances the result is just chaos
without any renewal.
In order to avoid overly simplistic interpretations of complexity(Richardson,
2008), this paper suggests that disorderorder dynamics cannot be understood
without taking into consideration the role of power. As any other form of inter-
action, social media interaction can be seen as power relation (cf., Elias,1998). It
means that power is not a thing certain people can wield over others, but a
relationship that arises and is shaped in interaction between people (Stacey,2010).
That is to say, one has power when he/she has succeeded in connecting individuals
into an integrated whole that has the ability to inuence the development of the
state of affairs. From the innovation perspective, power can be seen positivelyas
a resource for achieving something. One of the most inuential arguments for
positivepower has been presented by Michel Foucault. According to Foucault
(1980), power is a productive force that extends to social settings. He rationalises
his argument by stating that if power were only used for constraining and
H. Jalonen
inhibiting, it loses its legitimacy, even if it had been legitimate i.e., people
would not obey that kind of force. The legitimacy of power depends on its ability
to create pleasure and produce new knowledge (Foucault,1980). The relationship
between power and knowledge can also be found in the texts by Hannah Arendt.
Arendt (2003) argues that power is akin to knowledge in the sense that they are
both resources that do not diminish when used. On the contrary, sharing them can
actuate a self-enforcing phenomenon.
The power aspect has also been present in the social media literature. It has
been suggested that social media tilts the balance of power from company to
customer (Mitleton-Kelly,2003). Others have found that social media empowers
consumers to create their own personalised experiences and provides channel via
which they can easily share their thoughts (Fournier and Avery,2011). In addition,
Denyer et al. (2012) have argued that social media can be used for political
purposes by managers implying that social media is no more social,openor
participatorythan other communication methods. Implicitly, the above men-
tioned involves the idea that social media changes power relations within and
across organisations. According to Fournier and Avery (2011) the move from
secrecy to transparency involves a slippery, scary slope. Without questioning the
possible threats posed by transparency at such, worth noting is that these warnings
are motivated by the idea of negativepower. From the negative perspective, a
loss of power means the reduction of ones ability to uphold existing. However, as
noted before, power can be seen positivelyas a resource for achieving some-
thing. Positive power is an ability to act based on interaction (Jenkins,2009). This
is because interaction between people enables seeing not only ones own point of
view but also that of others (Arendt,2003). In the social media literature, positive
power has many names such as collective intelligence, swarm intelligence,
crowdsourcing and wisdom of crowds (Levy,1997;Howe,2006). Despite small
differences in nuances, what is common for all of these is that they see social
media as a context where independent individuals can come up with a solution to a
cognitive problem in a way that cannot be achieved by isolated individuals
(Salminen,2012). From the power perspective, therefore, the potential of social
media within innovation has primarily to do with the thoughts and ideas born from
the interaction between various individuals.
A positive perspective to power implies that organisationsinnovation capacity
will be enhanced as the number of individuals involved is increased. It seems,
though, that the equation still misses some element. Many studies have shown that
the more participants there are the more possible contradictions there can be.
Clegg et al. (2006), for example, have reminded that organisations are not unities
represented by a single consciousness and a single point of view but rather as
interacting, and possibly competing, representations that might engage in some
Dancing with the Paradox
dialogue with each other. In order to promote seeing things from otherspoints of
view and create shared meaning, this paper argues that individuals must have a
certain level of trust for each other. Trust can be seen as a factor that has the
potential to promote interaction processes. It has been stated that trust is tested
rst only after that does the organisation have the ability to process meanings
(Luhmann,1995). Trust has two interrelated levels: personal and system (Luhmann,
1979). Personal trust serves as an element to overcome the uncertainty inherent
in the behaviour of other people whereas system trust is general and can be
enforced by strong norms with positive and negative sanctions (Luhmann,1979).
Both types of trust also play an important role in organisational innovation.
Personal trust helps to build up space for creativity innovation, and encourages
people to see things differently. Personal trust can be seen as a prerequisite for
introducing new ideas. It can be said that trust enables playing with ideas
(Hjorth,2004). System trust, in turn, plays an important role when there are
issues that include conicts of interest. System trust is an important factor that
enables collaboration between people with conicting interests. This is because
system trust acts as a kind of social adhesive, which provides the necessary
coherence in which different actors can express their views based on their
interests and values.
The role of trust in social media has been touched on in several studies. It has
been argued, for example, that social media provides a trustworthy source of
information regarding products and services (Mangold and Faulds,2009). It has
also been found that people are far more willing to trust their peers than a company
(Li and Bernoff,2011). Adapting Luhmann (1979), peoples trust on their peers
represents personal trust. Seemingly, social media strengthens personal trust as it
increases the transparency of interaction within organisations and between orga-
nisations and their stakeholders by making the thoughts of others more visible.
However, it has also been put that personal trust is not enough to explain the wider
processes. This is where system trust comes into play: to be able to act within
different systems we must have condence [system trust] in their functions
(Jalava,2006). Personal trust yields to system trust if personal trust is socialised in
the form of normative rules and communication. In order to be normative, the rules
must be shared by the individuals. This necessitates interaction. Accelerating in-
teraction between individuals, social media helps to transform personal trust into
system trust. At best, social media can inuence trust in the way that it becomes a
cultural resource for organisational innovation. Providing transparency, social
media invites the truth and serves as a stimulus for positive change (Fournier and
Avery,2011). Correlation between trust and social media can also be explained in
terms of identity. In the social media setting, identity refers to information that
portrays individuals in certain ways (Kietzmann et al.,2011). Social media changes
H. Jalonen
the ways of how we deal with identity. It allows individuals to learn detailed
information about their contacts, including personal backgrounds, interests and
whereabouts(Valenzuela et al.,2009). As one ofcer from multinational company
has remarked, along with social media, people suddenly nd they have a voice,
have an identity and can be acknowledged for their input (Fitzgerald,2012). This
information, in turn, reduce uncertainty about other individualsintentions and
behaviours, helping to develop norms of trust and reciprocity, which Putnam
(2004)andValenzuela et al. (2009), among others, have deemed a necessary
condition for developing norms of trust and reciprocity. It is to say that trust carries
on when the knowledge ends. For organisationsinnovation processes the message
is explicit: social media helps to build trustful atmosphere within organisations,
which, in turn, enables individuals to share different including conicting
insights (cf., Wagner and Bolloju,2005;Schneckenberg,2009;Vuori and
Social media forces organisations to be interactive within and across their borders.
Some of the reviewed studies have shown that social media means less control-
lability and more unpredictability for organisations, whereas others have suggested
that social media provides organisations with new ways of interacting. Social
media enables customers and employees to enact their opposition in the online
space, engaging in acts of protest that they thought unable to perform overtly and
directly(Da Cunha and Orlikowski,2008). In doing so, social media opens up the
possibilities for oppositional discourse”—a process of venting which Da Cunha
and Orlikowski (2008) have called as cathartic. Applied to innovation, the paradox
that arises is that, on the one hand, social media provides a context for exploiting
open innovation but, on the other hand, also complicates innovation processes
which, in turn, may yield a worse innovation performance. The fact that social
media inhibits the organisation to exploit control over the discussions about its
brand and its products taken place in social media, does not, however, mean that
organisations have no possibilities to take part in discussions. Quite contrary,
social media enables organisationsnew ways of interacting within and across
their borders. Openness provided by social media enables organisations to mini-
mise the risk of excluding themselves from the discussions which may embrace
new ideas. Although social media increases the information glut, it also gives the
organisation means to cope with the information overload.
This paper has explored and discussed the paradox of social media in organi-
sationsinnovation processes through the complexity lens. From complexity
Dancing with the Paradox
perspective, social media enables the emergence of innovation through self-
organisation. In the self-organisation process individuals negotiate their conicting
intentions. Whether these negotiations lead to the emergence of new order
(i.e., innovation) depends much on power and trust relations within and across
organisations. If power is seen as constructive capacity to achieve something
(not inhibit someone to achieve something) and if social media is used in a way
which strengthens the personal and systemic trust, then there is room for both
particularisation and generalisation of (new) ideas.
Worth noting is that many enabling factors e.g., feedback processes and
diversity have their hidden sides, i.e., they may create disorder. The value of
complexity thinking is that it makes these hidden sidesvisible and integral
elements of innovation. Diversity of actors, for example, potentially increases the
diversity of ideas, which, in turn, may yield disorder. Although disorder increases
uncertainty, it can be seen as a positive situation in innovation. As discussed,
disorder is a necessary condition for the process of self-organisation. Without
disorder there are no possibilities for the emergence of novelty.
When above mentioned is taken seriously, it can be argued that the paradox is
not just inherent but useful for the organisations innovation. The paradox entailed
by social media is useful because it maintains mutually useful exclusive opposites
and immunises the organisation against mutually detrimental reinforcing oppo-
sites. Promoting the presence of contradictory attributes social media creates a
balance between controllability and uncontrollability. The paper concludes that
the usefulness of social media in innovation depends on how it enables the
coexisting processes of order and disorder. This paradox cannot be resolved, only
endlessly transformed(cf., Aasen,2009). Seeing interaction as intrinsic to in-
novation activity, complexity thinking opens the paradox of being in charge but
not in control (cf., Shaw,2002) in the age of social media.
This paper has been funded by Yksityisyrittäjäin säätiö (Foundation for Sole
Traders), Liikesivistysrahasto the Foundation for Economic Education, and
Turku University of Applied Sciences.
Aasen, TMB (2009). Innovation as social processes. A participative study of the Statoil
R & D program Subsea Increased Oil Recovery (SIOR), Norwegian University of
Science and Technology.
H. Jalonen
Ahlqvist, T, A Bäck, S Heinonen and M Halonen (2010). Road-mapping the societal
transformation potential of social media. Foresight, 12(5), 326.
Arendt, H (Ed.) (2003). The portable Hannah Arendt. New York: Peter Behr, Penquin
Argyris, C and D Schön (1978). Organizational Learning. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley
Pub Co.
Bateson, G (1936). Naven. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bernoff, J and C Li (2008). Harnessing the power of the Oh-So-Social Web. MIT Sloan
Management Review, Spring 2008, 3642.
Berthon, PR, LF Pitt, I McCarthy and SM Kates (2007). When customers get clever:
Managerial approaches to dealing with creative consumers. Business Horizons, 50(1),
Berthon, PR, LF Pitt, K Plangger and D Shapiro (2012). Marketing meets Web 2.0, social
media, and creative consumers: Implications for international marketing strategy.
Business Horizons, 55(3), 261271.
Blitz, D (1992). Emergent Evolution: Qualitative Novelty and the Levels of Reality.
Boston: Kluwer Academic.
Boisot, MH (1999). Knowledge Assets. Securing Competitive Advantage in the Informa-
tion Economy. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Briskin, A, S Erickson, J Ott and T Callahan (2009). The Power of Collective Wisdom:
And the Trap of Collective Folly. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.
Britt, A and N Kreyer (2011). Leading beyond borders: Insights and case studies
from IBMs Global Chief Human Resource Ofcer study. Strategic HR Review,
10(4), 1825.
Brynjolfsson, E (1993). The productivity paradox of information technology. Commu-
nications of the ACM, 36(12), 6677.
Bughin, J, A Byers and M Chui (2011). How social technologies are extending the
organization. The McKinsey Quarterly, November 2011.
Cameron, KS (1986). Effectiveness as paradox: Consensus and conict in conceptions of
organizational effectiveness. Management Science, 32(5), 539554.
Cameron, KS and RE Quinn (1988). Organizational paradox and transformation. In
Paradox and Transformation: Toward a Theory of Change in Organization and
Management. RE Quinn and KS Cameron (Eds.), pp. 114. MA: Cambridge.
Chae, B and JM Bloodgood (2006). The paradoxes of knowledge management: An eastern
philosophical perspective. Information and Organization, 16, 126.
Chesbrough, HW (2003). Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Prof-
iting from Technology. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Clegg, SR, K Kornberger, C Carter and C Rhodes (2006). For management? Management
Learning, 37(1), 727.
Constantinides, E and S Fountain (2008). Web 2.0: Conceptual foundations and marketing
issues. Journal of Direct, Data, and Digital Marketing Practice,9,231244.
Da Cunha, J and WJ Orlikowski (2008). Performing catharsis: The use of online discussion
forums in organizational change. Information and Organization, 18(2), 132156.
Dancing with the Paradox
Daft, RL and RH Lengel (1986). Organizational information requirements, media richness
and structural design. Management Science, 32(5), 554571.
de Boer, C and H Bressers (2011). Contextual interaction theory as a conceptual lens on
complex and dynamic implementation process. Paper presented at Research Con-
ference COMPACT Work: Challenges of Making Public Administration and Com-
plexity Theory Work, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, June 2325, 2011.
Decai, DA (2010). Co-creating learning: Insights from complexity theory. The Learning
Organization, 17(5), 388403.
Denyer, D, E Parry and P Flowers (2011). Social,Openand Participative? Ex-
ploring personal experiences and organizational effects of enterprise 2.0 use. Long
Range Planning, 44, 375396.
Durand, T (2004). The strategic management of technology and innovation. In Bringing
Technology and Innovation into the Boardroom. Durand, T, O Granstrand, C Her-
statt, A Nagel, D Probert, B Tomlin and H Tschirsky (Eds.) European Institute for
Technology and Innovation Management, Palgrave Macmillan.
Edmunds, A and A Morris (2000). The problem of information overload in business
organisations: A review of the literature. International Journal of Information
Management, 20(1), 1728.
Elias, N (1998). On Civilization, Power, and Knowledge. Chicago, IL: University of
Chicago Press.
Eisenhardt, KM (2000). Paradox, spirals, ambivalence: The new language of change and
pluralism. Academy of Management Review, 25, 703705.
Ferreira, A and T du Plessis (2009). Effect of online social networking on employee
productivity. South African Journal of Information Management, 11(1).
Fitzgerald, M (2012). Redesigning innovation at chubb. MIT Sloan Management, Big
Idea: Digital Transformation Blog,
Fonseca, J (2002). Complexity and Innovation in Organizations. New York: Routledge.
Foucault, M (1980). Power/Knowledge. Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972
1977. C Gordon (Ed.) New York: Pantheon Books.
Fournier, S and J Avery (2011). The Uninvited Brand. Business Horizons, 54(2), 193207.
Garrido, P (2009). Business sustainability and collective intelligence. Learning Organi-
zation, 16(3), 208222.
Gorry, GA and RA Westbrook (2011). Can you hear me now? Learning from customer
stories. Business Horizons, 54(4), 575584.
Granovetter, M (1973). The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology, 78(6),
Herbig, PA and H Kramer (1993). Innovation inertia: The power of the installed base.
Journal of Business and Industrial Marketing, 8(3), 4457.
Hjorth, D (2004). Creating space for play/invention Concepts of space and organi-
zational entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, 16(5),
Howe, J (2006). The rise of crowdsourcing. Wired, Issue 14.06, June 2006.
H. Jalonen
Jalava, J (2006). Trust as a Decision. The Problems and Functions of Trust in Luhmannian
Systems Theory. Doctoral Dissertation. University of Helsinki, Department of Social
Policy, Research Reports 1/2006.
Jenkins, R (2009). The ways and means of power: Efcacy and resources. In The SAGE
Handbook of Power. Clegg, SR and M Haugaard (Eds.), pp. 140156, Sage.
Jalonen, H (2012). The uncertainty of innovation: A systematic review of the literature.
Journal of Management Research, 4(1), 147.
Jalonen, H (2013). The knowledge-innovation nexus in the welfare service ecosystem.
International Journal of Knowledge-Based Development, 4(1), 3449.
Johannessen, J-A and B Olsen (2010). The future of value creation and innovations:
Aspects of a theory of value creation and innovation in a global knowledge economy.
International Journal of Information Management, 30(6), 502511.
Jussila, JJ, H Kärkkäinen and M Leino (2012). Learning from and with customers with
social media: A model for social customer learning. International Journal of Man-
agement, Knowledge and Learning, 1(1), 525.
Kaplan, AM and M Haenlain (2010). Users if the world, unite! The challenges and
opportunities of social media. Business Horizons, 53, 5968.
Kast, FE and JE Rosenzweig (1985). Organization and Management. A Systems and
Contingency Approach. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Kietzmann, JH, K Hermkens, IP McCarthy and BS Silvestere (2011). Social media?
Get serious! Understanding the functional blocks of social media. Business Horizons,
54(3), 241251.
Kohler, T, M Matzler and J Füller (2009). Avatar-based innovation: Using virtual worlds
for real-world innovation. Technovation, 29(67), 395407.
Kärkkäinen, H, JJ Jussila and J Väisänen (2010). Social media use and potential in
business-to-business companiesinnovation. In Proceedings of the 14th International
Academic MindTrek Conference: Envisioning Future Media Environments, Mind-
Trek 10, pp. 228236, New York, ACM: Ny.
Lampela, H and H Kärkkäinen (2008). Systems thinking and learning in innovation
process. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management,
8(2), 184195.
Lechner, C and M Dowling (2003). Firm networks: External relationships as sources
for the growth and competitiveness of entrepreneurial rms. Entrepreneurship &
Regional Development, 15(1), 126.
Levy, P (1997). Collective Intelligence: Mankinds Emerging World in Cyberspace. New
York: Basic Books.
Li, C and J Bernoff (2011). Groundswell. Harvard: Harvard Business Review Press.
Lietsala, K and E Sirkkunen (2008). Social Media Introduction to the Tools and
Processes of Participatory Economy. Hypermedia Laboratory Net Series 17, Uni-
versity of Tampere, Tampere.
Luhmann, N (1979). Trust and Power. Chichester: John Wiley.
Luhmann, N (1995). Social Systems. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Dancing with the Paradox
Mangold, WG and DJ Faulds (2009). Social media: The new hybrid element of the
promotion mix. Business Horizons, 52(4), 358365.
March, JG (1991). Exploration and exploitation in organizational learning. Organization
Science, 2(1), 7187.
March, JG (1994). Organizational information requirements, media richness and structural
change. Management Science, 32(5), 554571.
Markus, ML and D Robey (1988). Information technology and organizational change:
Causal structure in theory and research. Management Science, 34(5), 583598.
Maula, M (2006). Organizations as Learning Systems. Living Compositionas an
Enabling Infrastructure. Advanced Series in Management. Amsterdam: Elsevier.
McAdam, R (2000). Knowledge management as a catalyst for innovation within organi-
zations: A qualitative study. Knowledge and Process Management, 7(4), 233241.
Mead, GH (1967). Mind, Self and Society. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press.
Mitleton-Kelly, E (2003). Ten principles of complexity and enabling infrastructures. In
Complex Systems and Evolutionary Perspectives on Organizations: The Application of
Complexity Theory to Organizations, E Mitleton-Kelly (Ed.) pp. 2350. Amsterdam:
Mitleton-Kelly, E (2006). A complexity approach to co-creating an innovative environ-
ment. World Futures, 62(3), 223239.
Morcöl, G (2010). Issues in reconceptualising public policy from the perspective of
complexity theory. Emergence: Complexity and Organization, 12(1), 5260.
Morgan, J (2012). The Collaborative Organization: A Strategic Guide to Solving Your
Internal Business Challenges Using Emerging Social and Collaborative Tools. New
York: McGraw-Hill.
Murray, PJ (2003). So whats new about complexity?. System Research and Behavioral
Science, 20, 409417.
Nonaka, I and G von Krogh (2009). Tacit knowledge and knowledge conversion: Con-
troversy and advancement in organizational knowledge creation theory. Organization
Science, 20(3), 635652.
Nonaka, I and N Konno (1998). The Concept of Ba: Building a foundation for
knowledge creation. California Management Review, 40(3), 4054.
Nonaka, I and H Takeuchi (1995). The Knowledge Creating Company How Japanese
Companies Create the Dynamics Innovation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nonaka, I, R Toyoma and N Konno (2000). SECI, Ba, and leadership: A unied model of
dynamic knowledge creation. Long Range Planning, 33, 534.
Oswick, C, P Fleming and G Hanlon (2011). From borrowing to blending: Rethinking the
process of organizational theory building. Academy of Management Review, 36(2),
Park, J, M Cha, H Kim and J Jeong (2012). Managing bad news in social media: A case
study on Dominos Pizza crisis. In Proceedings of the 6th AAAI Conference on
Weblogs and Social Media, pp. 282289.
Pfeffer, J (1982). Organizations and Organization Theory. Marsheld, MA: Pitman.
H. Jalonen
Popper, KR (1996). The Myth of the Framework: In Defence of Science and Rationality.
Routledge, New York, NY.
Porta, M, B House, L Buckley and A Blitz (2008). Value 2.0: Eight new rules for creating
and capturing value from innovative technologies. Strategy and Leadership, 36(4),
Prigogine, I (1997). The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos and the New Laws of Nature. New
York, NY: The Free Press.
Putnam, RD (2004). Bowling together. OECD Observer, Retrieved March 12, 2013, from
Richardson, KA (2008). Managing complex organizations: Complexity thinking and the
science and art of management. E:CO, (10)2, 1326.
Salminen, J (2012). Collective intelligence in humans: A literature review. A Paper pre-
sented at Collective Intelligence Conference, April 1820. Cambridge, MA: MIT.
Sax, B (2006). Storytelling and the information overload. On the Horizon, 14(4), 165170.
Schneckenberg, D (2009). Web 2.0 and the empowerment of the knowledge worker.
Journal of Knowledge Management, 13(6), 509520.
Shaw, P (2002). Changing Conversations in Organizations. A Complexity Approach to
Change. London: Routledge.
Shirky, C (2010). Cognitive Surplus Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age.
New York: The Penguin Press.
Solow, R (1987). Wed better watch out. New York Times Book Review, July 12, 1987,
p. 36.
Stacey, RD (1993). Strategic Management and Organizational Dynamics. London: Pitmin
Stacey, R (2007). Strategic Management and Organisational Dynamics: The Challenge of
Complexity to Ways of Thinking About Organisations. 5th edn. London: Prentice
Stacey, R (2010). Complexity and Organizational Realities: Uncertainty and the Need to
Rethink Management after the Collapse of Investment Capitalism. London: Routledge.
Standing, C and S Kiniti (2011). How can organizations use wikis for innovation?
Technovation, 31(7), 287295.
Starbuck, W (1992). Learning by knowledge-intensive rms. Journal of Management
Studies, 29(6), 713740.
Surowiecki, J (2005). The Wisdom of Crowds. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing
Svobodová, A and P Koudelková (2011). Collective intelligence and knowledge man-
agement as a tool for innovations. Economics and Management, 16.
Tapscott, D and AD Williams (2007). Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes
Everything. Toronto, ON: Portfolio/Penguinn.
Tofer, A (1980). The Third Wave. London: Collins.
Dancing with the Paradox
Valenzuela, S, N Park and KF Kee (2009). Is there social capital in a social network site?:
Facebook use and college studentslife satisfaction, trust, and participation. Journal
of Computer-Mediated Communication, 14, 875901.
Van de Ven, AH, H Andrew, DE Polley, R Garud and S Venkatraman (1999). The
Innovation Journey. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Van de Ven, AH, HL Angle and MS Poole (2000) (Eds.). Research on the Management of
Innovation. The Minnesota studies. 2nd edn., New York, NY: Oxford University
Van de Ven, AH and MS Poole (1988). Paradoxical requirements for a theory of change.
In Paradox and Transformation: Toward a Theory of Change in Organization and
Management, Quinn, RE and KS Cameron (Eds.), pp. 1964, Cambridge, MA.
von Hippel, E (2005). Democratizing Innovation, Cambridge: The MIT Press.
Vuori, V (2011). Social Media Changing the Competitive Intelligence Process: Elicitation
of EmployeesCompetitive Knowledge, Publication 1001, Tampere University of
Technology, Tampere, 2011.
Vuori, V and J Okkonen (2012). Rening information and knowledge by social media
applications: Adding value by insight. VINE, 42(1), 117128.
Wagner, C and N Bolloju (2005). Supporting knowledge management in organisations
with conversational technologies: Discussion forums, weblogs and wikis. Journal of
Database Management, 16(2), iviii.
Watzlawick, P, J Bavelasa and D Jackson (1967). The Pragmatics of Human Communi-
cation. New York: W. W. Norton.
Weick, KE (1995). Sensemaking in Organizations. Sage, CA: Thousand Oaks.
Yates, D and S Paquette (2011). Emergency knowledge management and social media
technologies: A case study of the 2010 Haitian earthquake. International Journal of
Information Management, 31(1), 613.
Zaslow, J (2010). Surviving the age of humiliation. The Wall Street Journal, May 5, 2010.
H. Jalonen
... Social media listening technologies harvest feedback, opinions and other user-generated content from social media, which can then potentially be leveraged for innovation . However, while organisations are increasingly investing in social media listening technologies, little is known about how consumer's comments on social media traverse into organisational innovation Jalonen, 2015;West & Bogers, 2014). It is important to understand how organisations can successfully leverage user-generated content for innovation, even if this content is not suitable or planned for Co-creation (Constantinides, et al., 2008;Inside Retail, 2015;. ...
... It continues to remain unclear how organisations can benefit from the wealth and noise of user-generated social media content for innovation Jalonen, 2015;West & Bogers, 2014). Between 2005 and 2015, only 42 related papers were identified (based on selection criterion in section 2.2) on organisational innovation using social media. ...
... Primarily, identified past studies have taken an interest in the management of social media forums with the many papers focused on the right management processes, user motivations and incentives for organisational innovation to occur using social media (Akdag Salah & Salah, 2013;Baer, Evans, Oldham, & Boasso, 2015;Jalonen, 2015;Kosonen, Gan, Blomqvist, & Vanhala, 2012;Kreindler & Young, 2014;Malsbender, Hofmann, & Becker, 2014;Martínez-Torres, 2014;Martini, Massa, & Testa, 2013;Mount & Martinez, 2014;Siricharoen, 2012;Taufique & Shahriar, 2013;Yang, Weng, & Hsiao, 2014). ...
Full-text available
The growth of social media has opened new pathways for organisations to innovate, both in internal forums using enterprise social media and in external forums using social media. This research examines the case of a global retail organisation that has adopted social media strategies to foster both employee user-driven innovation and consumer user-driven innovation. To investigate this phenomenon further this research conducts two exploratory studies using Case Study methodology, employee and consumer interviews and consumer social media content analysis. URL link
... The paradox of social media is palpable (Jalonen, 2014). Social media sites allow youths to accomplish many things online that are important to them. ...
... The forum participants had had plenty of time to ruminate on past injustices, and the Hikikomero forum offers peer support for that kind of attitude and may even amplify it. The situation highlights the paradox of social media (Jalonen, 2014) as the forum discussions offer peer support and exemplify pro-social behavior while simultaneously giving prominence to hateful comments and to those displaying no empathy. The forum may thus work against the participants, deepening their feelings of exclusion (see also Vainikka, 2020), as the post by Writer 7 shows: ...
Full-text available
Youths who are socially isolated are largely inaccessible to social work professionals; nevertheless, most are active on social media. Feeling they have been let down by society, many such youths seek comfort in imageboards, where the idea of being antisocial is cherished and where even extremism and hate speech is tolerated. This study relies on a thematic analysis of 323 imageboard messages to identify the challenges socially withdrawn youths perceive as excluding them from society. We use the capability approach as our viewpoint, emphasizing the youths' actual capabilities to join in, as opposed to the opportunities seemingly provided by society. Our results resonate with the earlier research: Many members of the group labeled 'withdrawn youth' suffer from neuropsychological and mental health problems, fear social situations, experience a sense of shame and failure, and harbor bitterness toward society. They consider issues including unsuitable services, the onerous demands imposed by working life, and the hard values prevalent in society to restrict their opportunities to participate in that society and undermine their self-respect. Fear and negative experiences prevent socially withdrawn people from approaching social workers. Accordingly, we recommend social services keep an open mind on using digital options to reach people beyond the conventional service system.
... Social media is a way of being connected and it revolutionizes communication and producing knowledge (Jalonen, 2015). It includes a wide range of online services and applications which are used for some purposes (Clarke, 2014). ...
... Social media listening technologies harvest feedback, opinions and other user-generated content from social media, which can then potentially be leveraged for innovation (Jelonek and Wysłocka 2015). However, while organizations are increasingly investing in social media listening technologies, little is known about how consumers' comments on social media traverse into organizational innovation ( Füller et al. 2014;Jalonen 2015). In our research-in-progress paper we explore this phenomenon through an in-depth case study of a global retail organization. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The rise of social media has opened new pathways for organizations to innovate, in particular because innovation impetus may now be harvested from outside the organization. In our research-in-progress we examine the case of a global retail organization that has recently adopted social media strategies with the view to foster consumer-driven innovation. We focus on why social media content generated by consumers under some circumstances facilitates consumer-driven innovation and why under some conditions it doesn't. We report on the research methods, data collection, data analysis strategies and emergent findings, and conclude with a brief overview of our future research.
... Social media listening technologies harvest feedback, opinions and other user-generated content from social media, which can then potentially be leveraged for innovation (Jelonek and Wysłocka 2015). However, while organizations are increasingly investing in social media listening technologies, little is known about how consumers' comments on social media traverse into organizational innovation (Füller et al. 2014; Jalonen 2015). In our research-in-progress paper we explore this phenomenon through an in-depth case study of a global retail organization. ...
... Social media listening technologies harvest feedback, opinions and other user-generated content from social media, which can then potentially be leveraged for innovation (Jelonek and Wysłocka 2015). However, while organizations are increasingly investing in social media listening technologies, little is known about how consumers' comments on social media traverse into organizational innovation (Füller et al. 2014;Jalonen 2015). ...
Social media are privileged vehicles to generate rich data created with unprecedented multi-faceted insights to drive faster ideation and commercialisation of client-centric innovations. The essence of data generated through social media is rooted in the connections and relationships it enables between firms and their stakeholders, and represents one of the greatest assets for data-driven innovation. As most of the firms are still experiencing and trailblazing in this matter, the current challenge is therefore to learn how to benefit from social media's potential for innovation purposes. In the last decade, research interest has increased towards understanding social media – innovation interactions. The reliance on the wisdom of the crowd in driving major business decisions and shaping society's way of life is now well acknowledged in academic and business literature. Social media is increasingly used as a tool to manage knowledge flows within and across organisation boundaries in the process of innovation. Yet, conceptualisation of social media and innovation interaction and a systematic review of how far the field has come remains providential. Therefore, through a systematic literature review we aim to identify research trends and gaps in the field, conceptualise current paradigmatic views and therein provide clear propositions to guide future research. Based on a systematic review, 111 articles published in peer-reviewed journals and found in EBSCO Host® and Scopus® databases are descriptively analysed, with results synthesized across current research trends. Findings suggest social media is seen as enabler and driver of innovation, with behavioural and resource based perspectives being the most popular theoretical lens used by researchers. The originality of the paper is rooted in the comprehensive search and systematic review of studies in the discourse, which have not been unified to date. Implications for advancement of knowledge are embedded in the purposefully proposed theoretical, contextual and methodological perspectives, providing future research directions for exploring social media capability in innovation management. Keywords Social media, Innovation management, Systematic literature review, Research propositions, Business perspective, Open innovation
Purpose This paper aims to contribute to theory concerning collaborative innovation through stakeholder engagement with reference to Glasgow City Marketing Bureau’s (GCMB’s) management strategies, which represent UK best practice in events procurement, leveraging and destination branding. Design/methodology/approach The research adopts a case study design to facilitate an in-depth evaluation of the destination marketing organisation’s (DMO’s) critical success factors. Multiple perspectives on GCMB’s collaborative innovation are achieved through semi-structured interviews with senior managers from the bureau, key stakeholders and other DMOs. Findings GCMB’s success results from long-term, extensive, collaborative engagement, a unique institutional structure and sustained political and financial support through to transformational leadership, strategic event selection and targeted marketing through “earned” distribution channels. Research limitations/implications The study takes a single case study approach and focusses on GCMB’s event-led branding strategy. Given the importance but relative neglect of long-term inter-personal relationships in collaborative innovation, future research should focus on the development of social capital and adopt a longitudinal perspective. Practical implications The paper provides insights into the collaborative innovation process with a range of stakeholders, which underpins GCMB’s events strategy and its leveraging of the city brand. In particular, the study highlights the need for entrepreneurial leadership and the development of long-term relationships for effective engagement with stakeholders. Originality/value Previous research has focussed on outcomes and neglected pre-requisites and the process of collaborative innovation between destination stakeholders. This study examines this issue from the perspective of a successful DMO and presents a conceptual framework and new engagement dimensions that address this gap in knowledge.
Full-text available
This paper examines the dynamics in organizational innovation processes, and in particular, the role blockages. The case covers the process of designing a joint-stock enterprise that is partly owned by the employees and partly by the federation of municipalities, and is to deliver primary health care services to a set of municipalities. After a promising start, the process is now stuck before it has reached the implementation phase. The purpose of the paper is to examine the dynamics in the organizational innovation process, and in particular, the role of blockages and failures. By highlighting the value of complexity theoretical thinking, this paper seeks to contribute to our understanding of the nature of organizational innovation in the public sector and the analytical power of complexity. The data consists of interviews with the key actors in the process and is analysed by applying theory driven content analysis. Preliminary results suggest that the organizational innovation process is characterized by an active use of relational potential and a sequence of unexpected events resulting in emergent patterns. The space of possibilities not only frames the system but also enables co-evolutionary dynamics to emerge. Contrary to the fitness (or performance) landscape models, where the (organizational) structure is seen as an important determinant of the innovation potential, it does not seem to play a central role in this particular case. Results suggest that the innovation itself emerges in the complex responsive processes of relating between key actors, long before the end result of the process is realized. A structural failure might turn into a relational success.
Full-text available
The process of user-centered innovation: how it can benefit both users and manufacturers and how its emergence will bring changes in business models and in public policy. Innovation is rapidly becoming democratized. Users, aided by improvements in computer and communications technology, increasingly can develop their own new products and services. These innovating users—both individuals and firms—often freely share their innovations with others, creating user-innovation communities and a rich intellectual commons. In Democratizing Innovation, Eric von Hippel looks closely at this emerging system of user-centered innovation. He explains why and when users find it profitable to develop new products and services for themselves, and why it often pays users to reveal their innovations freely for the use of all.The trend toward democratized innovation can be seen in software and information products—most notably in the free and open-source software movement—but also in physical products. Von Hippel's many examples of user innovation in action range from surgical equipment to surfboards to software security features. He shows that product and service development is concentrated among "lead users," who are ahead on marketplace trends and whose innovations are often commercially attractive. Von Hippel argues that manufacturers should redesign their innovation processes and that they should systematically seek out innovations developed by users. He points to businesses—the custom semiconductor industry is one example—that have learned to assist user-innovators by providing them with toolkits for developing new products. User innovation has a positive impact on social welfare, and von Hippel proposes that government policies, including R&D subsidies and tax credits, should be realigned to eliminate biases against it. The goal of a democratized user-centered innovation system, says von Hippel, is well worth striving for. An electronic version of this book is available under a Creative Commons license.
Full-text available
For referencing : DURAND Thomas (2004) « The strategic management of technology and innovation” in “Bringing Technology and Innovation into the Boardroom” edited by Tschirky, Probert, Durand et al (European Institute for Technology Management), Palgrave Macmillan. This chapter presents an overview of definitions of key words and concepts (techniques, technology, science, invention, innovation). It also describes what the management of technology and the management of innovation are about. The chapter reviews the literature and identifies seven streams of contributions (managing R&D; connecting science, technology and innovation; understanding the dynamics of technologies; promoting innovation; recognizing the importance of organizational innovation; managing technologies and competencies; integrating technology into strategic management). On that basis, the chapter then identifies current challenges for practioners (technology and knowledge intelligence, organizing for innovation, gaining access to technologies and competence) and presents an integrated framework to think technology and innovation strategically.
Innovation is shown as a new patterning of our experiences of being together, as new meaning emerges from ordinary everyday work conversations. Viewed from a complex responsive process perspective, innovation feels less menacing and becomes a challenging, exciting process of participating with others in the evolution of work.
The article focuses on increasing the effectiveness of management training programs. It states that managerial effectiveness is the result of the interaction between individual, situational, and motivational characteristics. It mentions that the strength of motivation is dependent on motive, incentive, and expectancy. It suggests that with an identification of performance goals and incentives, by having clearly defined standards of excellence, giving goal attainment paths, and performance feedback, expectation can thus be increased. It states that expectancy theory can be compared with the concepts found in self-fulfilling prophesy. It makes suggestions of how to implement the application of expectancy theory to management training.
Competitive intelligence process aims to provide actionable information about the external business environment to back up decision-making in companies. The affects that the rise of social media may have on competitive intelligence is a topic of interest to both practice and theory. The main objectives of this dissertation are to understand how social media changes the competitive intelligence process and how can it enhance the elicitation of employees’ competitive knowledge. The research questions are studied using both theoretical and empirical research approach. Empirical study consists of three data sets complementing each other, adopting several methods and perspectives. The results of the dissertation suggest that social media has an effect on companies’ information environment, as the widespread use of social media produces more volume and more versatile information than before. In the competitive intelligence context this influences information gathering especially: social media for its part increases the available information sources, but it also offers technologies to automate some parts of information gathering and processing. In addition, use of suitable social media tools can have affects on the elicitation of employees’ competitive knowledge and making competitive knowledge more visible in a company. Social media provides an opportunity to implement the competitive intelligence process as participative and collaborative and engaging employees in the process. The role of the employees shifts to that of more active participants shaping the collaborative understanding by contributing their competitive knowledge to the process as well as better benefiting more from others’ competitive knowledge. However, the success of using social media in better utilising and sharing employees’ competitive knowledge relies heavily on utility, perceived usefulness and affordance of the tools as well as how motivated the employees are to use it for knowledge sharing. The main motivating factors and barriers are in line with those regarding general knowledge sharing. The main contributions include increasing knowledge on the connection between social media and competitive intelligence: how the emergence of social media affects carrying out the competitive intelligence process and especially sharing of employees’ competitive knowledge. In addition, the research reveals the motivational factors and barriers related to employees’ willingness to use social media for sharing competitive knowledge. The findings also have practical managerial implications for companies planning to adopt social media for competitive knowledge sharing, as they provide means for them to prepare the conditions for successful utilisation and active employee participation.