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CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
There is increased awareness that entrepreneurs will have to make use of social networks in corporate communications. For this reason, many entrepreneurs have been known to embed their business decision-making in social structures. This paper will research on the role of social network has when establishing an enterprise. We note that founding a business will need various contacts and resources in the various phases when establishing a business.
In this paper, we study the use of social networks to establish a new enterprise. When establishing a new business, there is the use of social networks and network discussions in the early stages of business creation. We establish the way entrepreneurs use social contacts to get resources. It has been established that there are factors which might distinguish entrepreneur’s networks in various organizations and countries.
Social networks establish a relationships that are necessary to provide the right information and resources that are used in establishing the businesses. Entrepreneurs have ideas that they want to test but they would also need complimentary ideas that will boost the success rate of their ventures.
Looking at social networks enables us to have an analysis on the relationship that exists between entrepreneurs and other people who will in turn provide the necessary resources that will be used in the creation of the new business ventures. In this case, entrepreneurs have the ideas that they would like to test and some knowledge and competence that is required to run the business. These entrepreneurs get support and knowledge from their social networks. They also get support and ideas from the various organizations and people who are found in the social networks in which they are affiliated with.
Social networks are not fixed and they can therefore be activated according to the various needs. To auger well with the enterprise needs, entrepreneurs bring both those that are closer and far from them into business decisions. In this case, family members can play a crucial role in this process.
To analyze entrepreneurial networks, the research will make use of interviews for ten corporate employees drawn from companies in Lagos, Nigeria. The corporate employees are drawn from different disciplines ranging from clerical to engineering. This was necessary so that the views could be balanced.
Rationale for the research
However, the topic of social networking has been widely researched and explored for the last one decade, there has been limited literature that has been directed at how they have been used in creation of new businesses. The current literature that is present is limited to how social networks have affected communication within organizations and they are shaping the whole issue. There has not been any research that has been done that concerns how new businesses and enterprises have been created by use of social networks. There is a need to see if there are new enterprises that have been created because social networks that exists with corporate employees who can communicate with colleagues that span many organizations. There has not been enough empirical investigation into social networks and how they can be used to create other enterprises. The research will therefore highlight the need for corporate employees to value the worth of social networks and how they can use to start services that will solve problems they face in their work. The research therefore will show how social networks can be used to solve social and professional challenges that corporate employees may experience in the workplace. In our case, the social problem that can be solved is that of lack of proper transport system.
The birth of a new enterprise
In the research, the term new enterprise or service will be used to denote a new venture. The unborn firm will be used to denote how corporate employees can create a new enterprise that is geared at solving a problem that they encounter in the workplace; the corporate employees are from Lagos Metropolis of Nigeria. It aims to be a service borne by collaboration using social networks and will be geared at solving a common problem for corporate employees in various firms. It will then answer the question, is it a good idea or a good opportunity?
The research will take a qualitative approach where it is found to be suitable than quantitative approach. It seeks to appreciate the inherent patterns and feelings of the interviewees instead of imposing ideas on data. In addition, it is because of the fact that this is an area, which is not widely investigated.
One aim of undertaking this research is to find out if social networks have been used to create new enterprises. With social networks being used in organizations, there is the possibility that like-minded employees in can use they different or even the same organization to create a new enterprise that will be used to solve a given problem.
1.6 Research aims and objectives
The key aims and objectives of this research project are stipulated below:
The importance and rationale of using social networks to solve challenges faced by corporate employees.
Academic literature review that exist and academic theories that are there that underpin service creation and social networks.
The procedure of creating a new service using social networks
The extent in which social networks can be used to create new services in the corporate world by corporate employees.
Corporate employees’ views on how they can use social networks to create a new enterprise.
The performance and challenges that are faced by corporate employees when using social networks.
The findings that is got from the research that is carried out to analyze how social networks can be used to start new enterprises
The loopholes and the causes that make social networks not a medium of choice for entrepreneurs
1.7 Structure of the study
Chapter 1: Introduction
In this chapter, the background and the highlights are given that concern social networks. It also gives the objectives as to why the research was carried. In this chapter the reasons that underscores the research being carried out is also undertaken.
Chapter 2: literature review
It shows and explores the theoretical contributions that are relevant to social networks in the corporate scene. The various researches that have been undertaken are reviewed so that the reason as to why the research was undertaken may come out clearly.
Chapter 3: Research methodology and methods
This chapter entails the various research methods and methodologies that have been employed to for undertaking the use of social networks by corporate employees to start a new enterprise in relation with the processes that have been investigated in the literature review.
This chapter is all about the evaluation and the discussion of the qualitative data that has been got from interviewees that work in corporate sector in Lagos. It involves the application of the techniques that are stated in chapter three and with the critical analysis of findings against the theories that are applicable that were discussed in the literature review.
Chapter 5: Synthesis, conclusion and implications
This chapter gyrates around summaries of the findings and analysis that were done in the preceding chapters. Furthermore, conclusions are made with support from the literature that has been carried out and in line with the objectives. It also highlights the implications that need to be done for future researchers in this field.
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
This chapter will review various works that have been done by previous researchers. First, it makes a brief explanation of small business innovativeness. Secondly, an in-depth look at the understanding of an entrepreneurial opportunity and its elements are discussed. This will then be linked to social networking which will give a foundation for the thesis of the paper.
2.1. Small business innovativeness
The economic impact of small businesses is equally important as that of large businesses. In 1999, for example, half of the US GDP was attributed to small businesses. This translates to small businesses providing employment to more that 55% of the US population (Small Business Administration, 2002).
It is not very well understood whether the existing theories that apply to big businesses also apply to small businesses. Small businesses often lack proper financial and human resource expertise that is available in large business (Barney, 1991).
The management structure of small businesses differs considerably with the number of employees in the firm. With bigger firms, where employees range from 250 and above, the gap existing between top management and the lowest level of employees is so big that understanding the need for change in the dissemination of work takes a lot of bureaucracy (Davis et al., 1985; Sivades & Dwyer, 2000). Small businesses are, however, poised to have a better understanding of the changing environment and the need to adapt to it. Smaller nodes of communication in small businesses and direct access to one another improve interaction amongst staff and management. Improved interaction leads to better cooperation that is a requisite for innovativeness in businesses (Dahl & Moreau, 2002).
Innovative potential is also boosted by the fact that managers or owners of these businesses always have more expertise with regard to day-to-day running of operations (Kirzner, 1997). Translating these expertise and wider customers experience will result in innovativeness that will meet the demands of the ever-changing market (Srinivasan, Lilian, & Rangaswamy, 2002)
In as much as the positive aspects of small business might lead to innovativeness, the opposite could also be true. Most small businesses are tightly run by owners who would not want to listen to expert advice (Donckels & Fro¨hlich, 1991; File & Prince, 1996). Decision-making lies solely with the owner, therefore innovations become the innovation of a single entity. Most of these innovations might not put into considerations market needs and client demands. Taking risks becomes hard to do, as the owner will consider family over the business resulting into conflicting goals, which are made in line with family rather than business objectives (Srinivasan, Lilian, & Rangaswamy, 2002). Dyer and Handler (1994) also state that averting risks is tantamount to suppressing innovation since all innovations are associated with risks.
Hausman and Fontenot (1999) argue that external contacts in small businesses result in lesser innovative measures, which, as a result and over time, will lead to market and environmental awareness reduction. Factors linking innovativeness in small business are not adequately expounded, prompting need for more research and study in the same.
2.2. Understanding entrepreneurial opportunity
Over the years, several theories have explained entrepreneurial abilities based on individual differences of people but overlooking the most important factor, opportunity. New businesses find it difficult to identify and select the right opportunity to ensure a success (Stevenson et al., 1985). This is why an understanding of recognising an Opportunity is pertinent to entrepreneurial research (Singh et al., 1999).
Boumal (1993) clearly states that for entrepreneurs to have a competitive edge, opportunities need to be there. Having divergent views of the available resources and market demand is what distinguishes opportunities. A market whereby everyone has the same understanding and valuation of the resource has not exploited the relevant avenues successfully (Boumal, 1993).
Entrepreneurial opportunities therefore can be defined as a way through which new means of action with regard to market, and resources are approached. (Casson, 1992). The creativeness of an entrepreneur defines the opportunities that are at disposal to his or her business. The laws of economics do not have to be changed in order to recognise these opportunities, however, altering the same results in to plenty of opportunities (Kirzner, 1997).
An Opportunity in a large perspective attempts to meet a market need by way of combining resources to achieve a worthy value in a creative manner (Ardichvili, A. et al., 2003) It has the qualities of being attractive, durable, and timely. It can also serve as a product or service that creates or adds value for its buyer or end user (Timmons, J. A., and Spinelli S., 2007). Entrepreneurs identify business opportunities from a business idea to come up with a valuable value to the stakeholder in a probable business venture (Ardichvili, A et al. 2003) while it is fair to say elements of opportunities are recognized, opportunities are made from Ideas, which is to say not all Ideas can be an Opportunity (Timmons, J. A., and Spinelli S., 2007). Therefore, an understanding of how to recognise an opportunity from an Idea serves as a stepping-stone for an entrepreneur.
2.2.2. Opportunity recognition
An opportunity grows as persons affect rudimentary ideas into full-blown business plan. An opportunity recognition or identification in most literature in entrepreneurship is seen from three unique perspectives: These are:
perceiving a market need
recognizing a ‘‘fit’’ amid specific market needs and specified resources
Creating a new ‘‘fit’’ between discrete requirements and resources in the form of a business idea.
According to Singh et al., 1999, these perspectives drives a perfect opportunity, they are perception, recognition and creation.
The perception of customers usually differ in their ability to understand or to recognize underserved or unmet interests this is due to the heterogeneity in persons’ receptivity to opportunities (Ardichvili, A. et al., 2003), some persons are so responsive to market requirements or exertion that they observe possibilities for new developments in all environments (Endsley, 1995, in Ardichvili, A. et al., 2003).
This sensitivity gives the basis of having to interview respondents and capture their separate views on the perception of the opportunity in this study, social networking.
The perception that one develops of a particular market, will define the opportunities that will be recognised. The market condition will dictate the production style. Price fluctuations determine what to produce or what service to offer. Different markets will therefore offer different potentials. How then will a small business entrepreneur perceive these markets? Does one market offer a better opportunity than the other does? According to Barney 1991, efficient transfer of information will influence many people to act in a certain manner in relation to market orientation without these people having to meet. The choice of market or a product or service to offer is determined by how one perceives the market (Barney 1991).
In as much as the market orientation is a contributing factor in realising the existing opportunities, it does not give a full picture of the production process. Entrepreneurs will need extra information with regard to past market history, production costs, influence of technology among others, in order to make a definite decision in to what activity to venture (Arrow 1974).
From this viewpoint, entrepreneurs waver to start a new venture or increase in a new product market where there is a chance to redeploy the resources far from the configurations with less optimality to more opportunities which are promising (Ardichvili, A. et al., 2003). The theory goes on to state that the decision about a product with the specifications to produce a good is not about economising with given resources, but rather recognising products customers will be willing to buy, and resources an entrepreneur can assemble.
This leads to the concept of creation. The idea creation entails restarting or combining afresh resources in order to generate and convey worth greater to that presently existing, it can streamline and innovate an existing business.
2.2.3. The 7 Domains Model
Other theorist like Mullins, 2003, test and assess an opportunity through the seven domains tool seen in Figure 1. The theory centres on the market, industry and the entrepreneurial team, headed by the founder or entrepreneur.
Figure 1: The seven domains of attractive opportunity by Mullins, J.W. 2003
The concept of the above opportunity theories can be applied to this study and tested to determine the attractiveness of social networking in a small bus service firm.
2.3. Social Networking
Human beings are among the most social living things on earth (Acquisti et al. 2006). The ability by humans to learn and associate with each other in a harmonious manner has contributed to the success and to the advancement in many sectors of the world economy. According to Acquisti et al. (2006), man is able to share knowledge with one another in a manner that is devoid of technicalities. Social networking has in the past and is still used by man to improve the information penetration in to different parts of world population. Knowledge fostering has been achieved through this networking (Acquisti et al. 2006).
Freeman (2004) describes a social network as an organized group or groups of individuals who are ascribed to the same or a common interest. The common interest with which these individuals are connected with has some form of interdependency in association. These interdependencies may include aspects such as common market, policies, ideas or even monetary exchange. Social networking therefore refers to the grouping of these individuals, which are brought by the common interest in order to achieve a certain objective (Acquisti et al. 2009).
The prospective bus service will be seen to benefit a great deal with social networking tools. As the workers go to work, they will benefit from social networking, as they will interact as they go to work. One advantage of this is that they might chart some office issues and therefore help to solve an issue that could have to be scheduled for it to be solved in the company (Adamic et al. 2003).
Internet was introduced for public and commercial use in the early 1990,s. Initially, it was developed for military purposes only; therefore the research that spearheaded the same was done secretly by the military (Agarwal, & Mital, 2009). The concept of social networking using the same platform was not yet conceived; however, the major concern was for data transmission to be done effectively, through a secure means. The early precursors to internet were the telex and the telephone machines. These platforms did not offer much in the prospects of social networking; therefore, less development was done with regard to social networking (Ahn et al., 2007). In 1950’s and 1960’s, the development of mainframe computers was done, they were later to prove useful in communication from point to point. A lot of research was done at the time focussing mainly on packet switching technologies, which enabled safe transfer of data from two different points. This was in itself a breakthrough that would assist many social networking companies in realization of efficient and effective transfer of data to the intended group (Ahn et al., 2007).
In the 1990’s the ARPANET-a major research body that established the internet- was decommissioned, due to the emergence of internet service providers. (Thomas et al. 2003). The restrictions that were previously put on the internet usage were removed. This opened up the internet for many business-oriented activities, also marking a major turning point in human social networking. Ajith (2010) explains that the rush for the internet usage and the need for man to connect with fellow man in an easy manner led to much development in social networking toward the end of the 20th century (Ajith, 2010). This need for man to have to express himself to others and to interact in a fashionable way led to the development of instant communication by e-mail, text based discussion forums and the Web. Today there are hundreds of social networking platforms that have transformed the way man interacts with fellow man. The increasing number of these networks is driven by the increasing demand and its ability to be used for different purposes in the industry (Albrechtslund, 2008). Their applications have exceeded the expectations with people using them to carry out almost every bit of business in everyday life. Talk of those who want to fundraise, not forgetting advertisers marketing their products; social networks are the best for them all (Albrechtslund, 2008).
The ever-changing market demand for business has been kept abreast by the ever changing and flexible nature with which human beings communicate. When instant electronic mail messages took root in 1990’s, it was thought to be the best form of instant communication that there would be (Aleksandra et al., 2008). Lately websites like facebook.com, myspace.com, twitter.com and you tube have become major networking services used by millions of people to connect with others every day. The instant communicative services, which include messaging, video and image applications plus many other multimedia applications offered by these sites, enable them to be the best plat form for a variety of applications (Aleksandra et al., 2008).
2.4 Social networking and business opportunities
Business operations have been found to maintain four types of networks which are (1) of internal relations and connections, which are linked to the (2) dynamic networks of outside businesses by way of (3) parallel and easy-to-change connections with collective outcomes, which are shared and aided, by a (4) information and communications technology infrastructure (Desanctis, & Fulk, 1999, pp. 71-72). There are different levels of business relationships that are seen in business and which have enhanced the connectedness of the business; these are industry level, group level and within the business basing on their own level of internal connections (De Man, 2004, 118-129).
With social networking, there is a tendency of businesses to get closer to their partners by way of mergers and creating new alliances. There are many opportunities that the business will grow when they engage their operations and staff with social networking. With social networking, it is possible to change the organization’s position in the network and in so doing they will eradicate some risks and disrupting operations of various competitors (De Man, 2004, pp. 118).
Social networking also presents the business with strategies opportunities where they might approach the partner so that they might gain an edge over the competition. This could be in the form of building bridges, filling gaps or even strengthening ties which are found to be weak; in this regard, there will be better distribution between the competitors (De Man, 2004, pp. 123). This shows one example of strategic benefits that come with social networking (Moberg, & Speh, 2003, pp. 2).
Social networking also increases flexibility with business production function; this is as a result of subcontracting that comes with social networking. Chell (2001, pp. 38) argues that the business which has been connected using social networking makes use of external production and outsourcing. One drawback that comes with outsourcing is when one chooses the wrong partner so that loss of control is evident. This can be eradicated by ensuring that there are clear boundaries when the activities are diversified (Ford, 1998, pp. 127). Businesses which adopt in-sourcing business structures will attempt to produce their own needs by way of producing what they deem fit. Staff are assigned to various sections where they will perform various functions in those internal units in which they have been assigned; in most cases, the staff perform similar roles (Hitt et al., 2002, pp. 9, pp. 106-123, pp. 255). Industries which are highly competitive will most likely to internalize business operations especially in cases where information is highly classified and the use of partnerships might lead to loss of the competitive advantage of the business (Bridgewater, & Egan, 2002, pp. 127). When starting a new virtual organization, there will be the need to distinguish the different approaches that are available for subcontracting (Chell, 2001, pp. 41). The capitalist approach has it that businesses will depend largely on networks, and more so small businesses which depend strongly on the relationships that are part of their own network (Chell, 2001, pp. 42). Social networking brings numerous opportunities to businesses as they enable the creation of boundary-fewer networks which have interconnected value activities which are managed with utmost trust (Desanctis, & Fulk, 1999, pp. 24).
There is also the opportunity of business exchange relationships that are brought about in strong political environments so as to find interdependency which is satisfying. This can be attained either directly or indirectly with the main aim of gaining influence and stature.
2.5 Business strategic networking
Social networking has been crucial in providing businesses with strategy and an edge over other competitors. Strategic business networking is very important and crucial for business functions which are upcoming (Boe, & Youngs, 1989, pp. 1). The relationship that exists in businesses is one-to-many (1: n). This relationships deal with one business setting the rules while the other accepts or refuses the set rules (Osterle, Fleisch, & Alt, 2001, pp. 22). Social networking in the context of business can therefore be defined as the process where time and money is invested in coming up with contributions that are used by the different players in the business (Holmen et al., 2005, pp. 1244).
Some of strategic business networks that are brought about by social networking include bringing out stronger links between suppliers, bankers, regulations and accountants (Jones, & Tilley, 2003, pp. 26). There is need to manage networks as an organizational structure. The structure of the network has distinguishing characteristics just like other structures (Bridgewater, & Egan, 2002, pp. 10). The social networks will be said to be successful depending on the way in which relationships are managed (Bridgewater, & Egan, 2002, pp. 10). It is common knowledge that business is undertaken by people with familiar people (Boe, 1994, pp. 83). For the networks to function well, they need to be treated the other businesses are treated; they need to be improved and developed regularly (Boe, 1994, pp. 149). Different businesses have unique application of networking because different businesses have different mix of relationships (Bridgewater, & Egan, 2002, pp. 33). The benefits and opportunities that come with social networking can either be tangible or intangible and may include intellectual, technical or social resources (Ford et al., 2003, pp. 18). Alliances which are chosen strategically refer to situations where the businesses enter into agreements where they share resources, expertise, knowledge and technology (Muthusamy, & White, 2006). In such a situation, the needs of all the parties will have to be met. This type of business is not only found in businesses operating in the same field but also in businesses which are found across industries that form operations which are strategically chosen in tandem with value chains (Desanctis, & Fulk, 1999, pp. 23). Social networking is also seen to be supporting businesses which are geographically dispersed but support each other as much as possible (Thompson, & Martin, 2005, pp. 583). Strategic social networking that is used in business has been known to evolve around the portfolios of businesses; there are benefits that are expected to be derived from these portfolios so that optimal efficiency and effectiveness (Ford, 1998, pp. 83). These are the objectives are part of strategy that are required for global competitiveness. In this regard, social networking helps to enhance embeddedness of knowledge and leads to synergistic alliances (Nielsen, 2005, pp. 1195). Collaboration and alliances can also be an undertaking of the organization where the business share risks, profit, control and introduction of innovation (Ernst, & Bamford, 2005, pp. 133). New opportunities can be missed if a business is in a stable and comfortable alliance; it is also true that the process of changing the arrangement can be more complicated than to come up with a new alliance or going for an opportunity by itself (Ernst, & Bamford, 2005, pp. 134). There are different reasons as to why alliances are sought by business; international strategic alliances are meant to overcome cultural differences and barriers that come with language and politics (Muthusamy, & White, 2006).businesses may also opt to join a variety of alliances and thus making use of different resources at once (Thompson, & Martin, 2005, pp. 584) thus making them realize various objectives at once (Thompson, & Martin, 2005, pp. 589).
It has been found out that different industries can come together in an alliance with the objective of creating and also improving competitiveness of the participants in that given situation (Brake, 2009). For this case, there are various opportunities that are attained with such alliances like strategic alliances that can be attained with businesses which are not competing, and also between competing businesses. There is therefore the need to have a balance of power and clearly defined boundaries of each business (McGee et al., 2005, pp. 395-398).
2.6 Corporate employees and social networks
In social networking, highly competent and specialized people are connected by use of computers and other intelligent devices so that each of these individuals can contribute their specialized tasks towards the attainment of a big and complex task (Larson, & Lundberg, 1998, pp. 86-87). It has been found out that innovation is nurtured and people tend to attain success when they are in a diverse network with people who strive towards progress (Petrusewicz, 2003). One of the challenges experienced in this aspect is integrating the various strengths that come from the various players to attain a better mix (Singer, 2004, pp. 21). Strategic business networking opportunities can be based on linkages and referrals enabled by relationships with business talented staff that offer other services to customers and, after this process is established, it could bring about win-win relationships that can lead to cross-referrals that are good for future business and alliances (Ball, 2005, pp. 36).
Businesses spend a great deal of resources in the creation, management and governance of strategic alliances. For this to be fully realized, they need to have a total closure on factors such as loss of control, the unpredictability of future outcomes, the extent of each partner demanding resources, or the cost that will be incurred in getting the benefits desired (Gemunden, Ritter, & Walter, 1997, pp. 92).
Strategically managing relationships helps in reducing the cost of transactions and gives the necessary support for the transfer of commercial intelligence and knowledge which is of particular task. The strategic relationships help to enhance learning between businesses and the creation of internal knowledge; it thus enables participants to learn from the feedback that is received (Boyce, 2001, pp. 12).
There are certain advantages that come with business relationships that are found in the network. Top on the list is the fact that the relationship can expose opportunities which were not realized before; this can lead to the attainment of alternative experience (Ford, 1998, pp. 59). The role that each role-player plays will be determined by the number of connections and the distance that are found in the various connections (Morville, 2002). The portfolio of the business determines the position it has in the network (Ford, 1998, pp. 49; Ford et al., 2003, pp. 7). The businesses in the network will work hard to get a position which will have maximum influence in the network and will also strive to attain a position where they will get optimal opportunities (Osterle et al., 2001, pp. 21).
2.7. Value of Social Networking
The value of social networking in business community, political circles or educational sector cannot be overlooked. According to Freeman (2007), improvement in the world economy in the last decade can be attributed to the proper information dissemination mechanisms and the globalization which has been enhanced by social networking. In his view, Freeman (2007) considers the Internet as a major contributor to knowledge and information gathering. The ease with which different cultures have interacted and ideas shared across borders contribute to the economy by acting as a stimulant. Access to information is a contributing factor to innovativeness in business and entrepreneurships. By interfacing different business, ideas from different backgrounds people are able to develop a keen understanding of the opportunities and challenges that are likely to be encountered in the cause of their venture (Dahl, & Moreau, 2002). The diversity with which these ideas are generated reflects the diversity of the target market. Exploitation of information therefore from these networks and using the same for the competitive advantage of the business is a great value. This first hand information offers an opportunity to understand the needs and expectations of the market from a personal perspective. Product and service expectation always differ from one group of people to another (Dahl, & Moreau, 2002). By associating and interconnecting with these groups, entrepreneurs gather the necessary information necessary for increasing sales at target markets. Social networking brings about the desired opportunities where entrepreneurs get more information that is relevant to increase sales at target markets. Social networking opens communication channels so that the target market can be reached easily (Dahl, & Moreau, 2002).
The free nature of social networks makes them the best choice for both personal and business use. Thousands of people join social networking sites due to no cost of incurrence (Ambrose, 2007). Due to this ever-increasing number, these sites offer the best opportunity for tapping in to business strategies (Dahl, & Moreau, 2002). Customers and targets can be identified by doing simple tasks like clicking few icons. The ability of these sites to display the likes and dislikes of most people helps business to plan their advertising and promotional offers effectively. It ensures a multitude of people is reached within no time at a cheaper cost or no cost at all (Ambrose, 2007). The fact that credibility can be introduced to a business due to the ability to connect with customers both on personal or professional level is a boosting factor to any business. Customers can ask matters related to the business at both interactions which will translate to better understanding of the business improving prospects for the business (Ambrose, 2007).
The expertise needed for a business can be found through networking. Sometimes finding the right person to perform a task for an organization can be a problem. However networking sites will offer a proper platform for getting one (Athanasopoulos et al., 2008). A client is able to read and understand the personal believes and values of a potential customer. Comments and recommendations from other people will provide a good evaluation platform (Back et al., 2010). In fact, interacting with a potential client before revealing your intentions will provide a deep insight in to his or her capabilities and trustworthiness (Back et al., 2010). Referral programs also serve as an opportunity of finding competent employees. Research shows that most employees employed through referral programs are trustworthy and more competent (Back et al., 2010).
While the value of social networking is evident from the above discussion, it remains also to be considered that the same opportunity can be a disadvantage or disastrous to business (Back et al., 2010). Networking requires one to put out in to the public some information that could be used to harm someone (Back et al., 2010). Using this information to their advantage, online scammer can con employees in to revealing secrets or private information (Back et al., 2010).
Some businesses have restricted their staff from accessing social networking sites. While the dark side of the same exist, it is imperative to note that collaboration tools are every vital in any business (Backstrom et al., 2007). According to a recent research by Forrester Research, it was found that most companies had adopted the use of emails in the work place as a means of communication; however, the same companies restrict users to use online social networking platforms at work (Backstrom et al., 2007). This poses a great problem to the employees especially those under the age of thirty-five who would prefer using the instant social networking sites as a means of communication and interaction rather than the conventional e-mails (Backstrom et al., 2006). Fear by most organizations that their employees might broadcast company’s information to the outside world is one the contributing factors that most business organizations are reluctant to adopt social networking as an advantage to business promotion (Backstrom et al., 2007).
Social networking is seen to be playing a very important role in marketing and marketers are warming up to this trend and embracing this technology.
Social networking has been known to be a very important and integral part of the communication process where consumers feel free to disseminate information on the Internet and make it available to the other members in the social networking forum (Barker, 2009). Research has shown that 70% of Internet users who are aged between 18 and 29 years use social networking as a platform for communication and 73% use Facebook as their chosen and preferred communication channels (Baker et al., 2008). The other social networking applications that are preferred by users are MySpace at 48% and LinkedIn at 14% (Barker, 2009). Making adverts in social networking makes the consumers to engage in some kind of interaction where they are able to like, comment or pass along with the connections that they have in the social world (Barnes, 2006).
Baumgartne and Morris (2010) observe that with special networking, the marketers are in a position to improve the marketing plan and understand their potential clients better. With the comments and the reviews that are found in social networking review sites, marketers are able to get what the clients want and so strive to ensure that they provide for the same ( Baym, 2007). Through social networking like Facebook, we businesses have managed to integrate their networking over marketing their small clients to other sites (Baumgartner, & Morris, 2010).
Beer (2008) states that with the reference that the young and the future generations give to online social networking increasing by the day, it is becoming apparent and important that companies and enterprises should ensure that there are tools that are used to enhance social networking. In the case of the prospective bus service, the use of social networking tools will help to solve company issues from unofficial that are used in social communication. Social networking will definitely help employees to communicate on their way to work (Beer, 2008).
Another benefit that social networking has for businesses is that it provides a new source of information which can be stored (Bernd et al., 2009). With data mining in place today, it is possible to use the data that is being exchanged in the business to increase productivity. This is so because of the fact that employees are known to be open when using this technique (Bigge, 2006). Because of this reason, they will be valuable to the decision-making process of the company. This information would be available outside the company were it not for the introduction of social networking concepts in business (Boase et al., 2006).
With all these benefits, we can now be able to show our clients new products through online links and consequently contributing to integral part of search engines optimization strategy (SEO) (Bonneau et al., 2009). The links will be of value to managing web traffic through social networking. Marketing with this social networking improves product advertising and awareness since the new service of bus service is not known, the employment of this strategy will help to boost the awareness of this service (Bonneau et al., 2009). In conclusion, the business is seen to be the greatest beneficiary of social networking and the different business functions that are seen to be gaining from this new wave of communication (Bonneau et al., 2009).
2.10 Electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM)
Electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) plays a crucial role in enhancing the communication process of employees. This is helping to boost the communication of the workers in the prospective bus service (Boyd, 2008). Traditional word of mouth is an effective way of passing company information between staff and employees. With the advent of social networking, there is the emergence of new form of word-of-mouth (Boyd, 2008). The prospective bus service will therefore stand a chance of getting the most out of this. As the workers exchange vital company information, they will be able to get informed of what strategic moves the company has in store and the requirements that will be required of them (Boyd, 2008).
2.11 Research methodology
The data that was used in this research was obtained from semi-structured interview questions on a one-on-one, face-to-face with the interviewees (Brady, 2010). The rationale of using the semi-structured interviews was because respondents came from different backgrounds and also due to the fact that they work in different sectors (Brady, 2010). The use of semi-structured interviews also offer the researcher a versatile way of collecting data as it allows the use of probes by the researcher in clearing vague responses and what is more, the researcher will always have a chance of asking for more elaboration from the interviewee in case there is an incomplete answer (Brady, 2010).
CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY
The research philosophy entails the creation and development of knowledge in a given area and the nature of that knowledge can be applied to the research project. In summary, the research philosophy can be seen to be the personal beliefs of the researcher and the way in which the researcher looks at the world. Research philosophy has its use in research projects. This chapter will deal with the research philosophy and the strategy that will be used. It will also discuss the methodological considerations that will be employed in the study. The justification of design that will be used in the research will also be looked upon including the procedures and the instruments that will be used. It will conclude with the ethical considerations that will have to be taken into account when undertaking the project.
3.2 Research philosophy
Saunders, Lewis and Thornhil (2007) stress the importance of getting an understanding of theoreticl and background to sociological and managerial research as they have a great influence on the relationship between knowledge and the progression of the same. In addition to this, the research philosophies enlighten us on how research should be carried out and done. The first approaches to research philosophy are epistemology, which has its basis on the way, is organized and emphasized; it stresses the importance of having knowledge organized in theories. Another approach in research is that of Ontology which is based on suggestions and not relating these suggestions to knowledge. This approach is rather concerned with nature and structure of existence and reality.
Another definition of Epistemology is by Tadajewski (2004, p. 312) who states “Epistemology is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of knowledge, specifically how knowledge about knowledge is possible and concerns the study of the criteria that delimit what does and does not constitute warranted knowledge”. Two branches that come out of Epistemology are positivism and interpretivism/phenomenology.
It is important to define the research philosophy that will be used in this paper. The research philosophy is concerned with the development of knowledge and the nature of that knowledge (Saunders et al., 2007, p. 101). It has been argued that it is not in order to conduct a research without understanding the background of the philosophy that has been used. It is important to understand the importance of combining personal belief, the experience of the researcher and the knowledge of philosophy; they will underpin the process of selecting strategy, and the selection of methods that are used for the research project. The research philosophy influences the research in the process of doing the research. It is important to get a full understanding of the assumptions that are underlying which underpin the research strategy, which, in this case, is concerned with the attitude and feelings towards the use of social networks to come up with a new company other than being concerned with facts. There are three ways of evaluating research philosophy that is being used, which are epistemology, ontology and axiology. The first, epistemology, is what constitutes the body of knowledge that is acceptable in the study area. In this case, our research, the literature review shows that the use of social networks to develop a new endeavor, or a new business, has not been established and is still messy as to what extent social networks can be used positively. There are different views and meanings that concern the use of social networks to come up with a new service. Another definition of epistemology can be taken to be the assumptions concerning the pool of knowledge of an area of study for a subject that is based on a given ontology. The research ontology concerns with truths and axioms that are accepted about a given subject. In our case, it is generally accepted that social networks can be used to start enterprises and as a communication platform in an organization but this has not been measured so that the extent and the requirements that are needed for this to be effected have not been set out clearly. Interpretation and the perception of the participants will be evaluated and will be evident that different views will be required. The ontology that has been used in this research is more of Gnostic or subjective, ambiguous and hidden instead of orthodox or objective. It ends up coming up with opinions, views, many perspectives and stories.
The research took a phenomenological or interpretivist approach instead of a positivist, realist, or a critical realist approach. Interpretivism philosophy engages having interviews with people and not objects and the findings that are got out of this research are interpreted basing on the behaviors, viewpoints, and the philosophy of participants engaged and not objects or resources. In support, Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2007, p. 106) affirm that interpretivism “advocates the differences between conducting research among people rather than objects such as computers and trucks. The axiology that is the personal values for this research that concern the subject of social networks in starting a new service was that the communication with corporate employees and especially the enterprising ones should be valued highly.
3.3 Research choice
The choice of research is based on two divergent bases of theories, which lie in the methodology of theories and development of knowledgebase. According to Sekaran (2003), the theories assist in being acquainted with, comprehending, understanding and projecting the whole research investigation phenomenon. The two theories are the Deductive theory and Inductive theory. The former theory typifies the normal and regular relation that exists between the theories and the research, and the latter typifies the experience as opposed to relation between research and theory (Remenyi et al., 1998).
In a deductive choice of research theory, the first thing that takes place is development of theories and then they are followed by tests that are acquired through empirical findings or observations on the same; this then leads to a logical conclusion by abridging facts which are already available (Sekaran, 2003 and Crowther and Lancaster, 2009).
The other research approach is inductive research choice where the events take place in reverse order. In this theory, the development of theories is done after observation of data and information so that they can explain them (Sekaran, 2003). In short, it is after obtaining facts from observing a given phenomenon that suggestions take place; the suggestions can be in form of theories also. One advantage that this research choice has over the deductive research choice is that it is its capability of being flexible as all categories of information can be used to come up with the theories finally.
This research takes inductive approach to carry out the research process. In this case, the findings are acquired from various different sources and then the implications and suggestions are deduced for the theory that will guide to the entire research project (Bryman and Bell, 2007). Comparing this research approach to the deductive research choice, the deductive research choice follows a linear approach and this would mean that we would be restricted as it follows a given process systematically. Whereas given the fact that our research will be dealing with responses from different people and who might be having various responses, it implies that everyone has a different mindset and therefore it requires that we analyze a new theory based on findings thus can be met by inductive approach only (Bryman and Bell, 2007 and Remenyi et al., 1998).
3.4 Research strategy
Research strategy aids in coming up with a framework that is used for gathering and analyzing the data that have been obtained during the research process (Bryman and Bell, 2007). Bryman and Bell (2007) further they underscore the significance that is attached with the right choice of research strategy that is used as it helps to reveal various dimensions of research and processes. Moreover, the significance of choosing the suitable approach lies in “expressing casual connections between variables; generalizing to larger groups of individuals than those actually forming part of the investigation; understanding behavior and the meaning of that behavior in its specific social context and having an over-time appreciation of social phenomena and their interconnections” (Bryman and Bell, 2007, p. 40).
Nevertheless, as pointed by Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2007, p. 135), it must be observed that no strategy can be kept in a superior position than the other. In addition, “right choice strategy institutes from research question, objectives, existing knowledge, availability of time and resources and own philosophical underpinning”.
An organization can choose from many research strategies options. One of the commonly used is surveys, experimental strategy, historical research, action research, and ethnography.
Case study is the detailed relative study and analysis of situations which are similar in diverse organizations and which have related nature of problem to address the research question and the aim/objective of the research project (Sekeran, 2003). Supportively, the same is insinuated by Robinson (2008, p. 178) who affirms that “a case study is a strategy for doing research which involves empirical investigation of a particular contemporary phenomenon within its real life context using multiple source of evidence”. In addition, Morris and Wood (1991) define a case study strategy offers one the opportunity to examine the detailed concepts, activities and problems of an organization that is applicable to the research that is being researched.
This research made use of survey, which is used when seeking representative views. The choice to use this research strategy is because there are many professionals working in Lagos metropolitan area. It was necessary to get the views that different people working in diverse backgrounds have. Everyone in an organization uses social networks but the level of use and sophistication differ. Corporate employees working in technical departments make use of social networks with their sophistication and vast expertise use social networks to outdo each other and to solve technical problems that they encounter each day. Corporate employees working in other departments apart from technical and information technology department are known to use social networks to communicate social problems and make social connections.
In the course of the research, there was the need to keep the number of respondents to a specific number and somewhat extract the qualitative data from them so that the synthesis of findings could be done in an efficient and effective way. Nonetheless, it was taken care that there is not one department being involved in the interview process or one individual involved in this interview process. This would lead to issues like mind-frame and biasness (Remenyi et al., 1998). The researcher chose to have ten (10) corporate employees to be interviewed. These employees came from various departments.
On the contrary, taking large number of respondents for this research project would end up providing a large amount of data that would prove to be difficult to conform within the word limit constriction for the Masters Dissertation project. As a result, taking ten respondents to be interviewed made it practical and easy to compare few strategic thinking and working styles that triumph in the same industry.
Instead of choosing alternative research strategies like “experimental strategy, which is used in casual relationships, case study, which is used for detailed investigation strategy and historical research, which is used for events that occurred in the past, the interview approach proved to be the most appropriate method as it gave the researcher a chance to have different views of the research project (Biggam, 2008 cited in Coates and Sloan, 2008, p. 135).
The basis for choosing the interview approach lies in the aims and objectives of the research in which there was the need to have the different viewpoints of different corporate employees in various professions and in different companies. In addition, Bryman and Bell (2007) underscore the fact that the researcher’s observation and capability to give a logical opinion towards consistency, replicability and soundness of the interview gives it the rationale.
3.5 Research approach
The peculiarity between quantitative and qualitative methods are the basis for the growth of research strategies, philosophies, strategies and data collection techniques applied. Bryman and Bell (2007) assert that the distinction aids in developing of an umbrella consisting of various business research practices and issues.
The main subject of peculiarity stands in the disposition of numeric or non-numeric data or information that has to be collected and analyzed.
This is applied when the research philosophies, methodologies and methods entail getting numeric data or stresses on the quantification (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2007). In addition, Bryman and Bell (2007) state that it relates itself with a deductive approach and a positivist epistemological course.
This is engaged if the research philosophies, methodologies, and methods entail getting non-numerical data or stresses on the disposition of quality of data that has been collected (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill, 2007). In addition, Bryman and Bell (2007) state that it relates with inductive approach and an interpretivist epistemological course.
In addition, although quantitative approach is related with practices, a qualitative approach is related with the postulation (Baker, & Foy, 2008). The peculiarity amid qualitative and quantitative research is asserted by Murphy et al (1998), p. 72 that “the former investigates the naturally occurring settings, while the latter is restricted to phenomena that are artificially created by the researcher”. Stressing on the significance of choosing the suitable approach, the approach that most relates itself with the research questions. In addition, Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill (2007) state that the researcher should question his subconscious or make use of his mind for the same and take the process of research to be one with high creativity.
In view of this qualitative research relates itself with the detailed status and aids to examine many issues, which could not have been identified by the quantitative approach. It has helped to get the situations that could not be identified in numerical data.
3.6 Data collection
There is the carrying out of a literature review so that the theories of social networks and their roles in communication can be understood.
There is the use of a self-administered questionnaire that will be sent to all corporate employees that are contacted in this study. This provides a chance to conduct a snowball research where the views from the few corporate staff who are working in companies in Lagos can be applied to other areas of research. The questionnaires which are negative and are leading are avoided as much as possible; there will be a careful consideration that will be given to sequencing and a clear layout and design (Proctor, 2003; Jobber, 2004; Fisher, 2007 and Saunders et al, 2007).
The themes that are used for the question are got from the literature and the resultant model. The questionnaire is not intended for managers, directors, and the social network implementers. It entails the views and the perception that corporate employees have towards the use of social networks to start a bus service. The questions that were asked were as follows: to find out the perception that corporate employees have towards social networks; the confidence that corporate employees have towards the use of social networks to constructively start new ventures, the likeliness of employees towards social networks, the view and the perception that companies and the management towards the use of social networks by employees. The use of open-ended questions allows the expression of views by the respondents. The final section is used to assess the extent in which the staff participated and to ensure that all-important staff has been included.
A pilot test will have to be carried out with few staff so that the various grades and responses can be evaluated and see which of the points seem to bring confusion to the respondents. The feedback includes the comments about the effectiveness of the questions that have been asked.
Other issues that came up with questionnaires included issues like sequencing of questions, which were equally amended. This amendment made the questionnaires to be reliable and readable and made them to be attractive and less ambiguous. The duration that takes to complete the questionnaires was also tested and it was found out to take between five to ten minutes. It was also decided that the staff get more space so that they could expand on the answers and make more comments as much as possible.
It became feasible to ensure that the questionnaires be sent to the target corporate employees by use of email. This eradicated the possibility of random sampling, which is a limitation that is normally experienced in the case.
There were 20 corporate employees contacted. The employees who were on leave were left and those who were not feeling well were not interfered. Questionnaires were individually addressed to the respondents instead of using line managers or through group mail.
3.6.2 Semi structured interviews
At the end of the questionnaire, staff was asked if they were willing to take part in an interview. The various corporate employees were interviewed. The semi structured interviews allowed for cross-validation and also to overcome the limitations that come with questionnaires as argued by Saunders et al (2007) and Fisher (2007) like the misinterpretations or ambiguities in the self-administered questionnaires and the unwillingness to make comments in writing.
The interviews took a maximum of one hour and took place in places where the interviewees deemed fit to be comfortable. The structure of the interviews sought to find out the perception of social networks by corporate employees who are found in the companies in Lagos, Nigeria. The researcher sought to find out first the acceptability of the social networks in companies before delving in the use of the same to start a new company. From the qualitative analysis, which was done, the researcher sought to find out the use of social networks in the companies, which the staff being interviewed worked from. This allowed for cross-validation and the views of various professionals and to be got in deeper in recognition of the limitations that come with interviews like the unwillingness to give comments in writing. Having some of structure is a good gesture in doing qualitative research but the researcher strived to remain as neutral as possible; the researcher tried to give the interviewee the freedom required so that they are able to talk on matters that matters the most without coercing or leading them to talk of issues that concerns the researcher alone. The researcher did the interview with the pitfalls that are associated with interviews like lack of standardization and thus leading to lack of reliability. Other pitfalls, which the researcher ensured, were taken care of like response bias and generalizability. The duration of the interviews took one hour on average and took place in places, which deemed comfortable by the interviewees. The researcher therefore had a chance to travel to the places where the interviewees worked and had the chance to observe the communication system that was evident in the companies. Most of the locations that the interviewees preferred to be interviewed in were in conference rooms and were quiet and therefore there was no fear of the interviewees of being overheard. It was only in interviews with the engineers that were disturbed by moving items, as is a characteristic of many engineering places.
The interviews were carried out as follows:
Catherine (Accountant), female, interview was based in Company 1 conference room on 22 July 2011, 10.00am.
Daniel (Accountant), male, interviewed done in Company 2 conference room on 22 July 2011, 2.00pm.
Duncan (IT professional), male, interview was done in Company 1 conference room on 25 July 2011, 8.00am.
James (IT professional), male, interview was done in Company 3 conference room on 25 July 2011, 10.00am.
Jared (IT professional), male, interview done in Company 3 conference room on 25 July 2011, 2.00pm.
John (Engineer), male, interview done in Company 4 staff offices on 26 July 2011, 10.00am.
Monica (Clerk), female, interview done at Company 4 boardroom, on 27 July 2011, 10.00am.
Ofwembi (Clerk), male, interview done at Company 4 boardroom, on 28 July 2011, 2.00pm.
Thomas (Engineer), male, interview done at Company 5 boardroom, on 29 July 2011, 10.00am.
Willy (Clerk), male, interview done at Company 4 boardroom, on 29 July 2011, 2.00pm.
The interviews were transcribed and then reviewed and analyzed.
After the data was collected, analysis was done by using Nvivo 9.0 software. The analysis of the data is intended by making use of discourse analysis approach which was highlighted by Coates and Sloan (2008); in this approach, data and information which has been collected is deconstructed in a way so that it is possible to interpret the real or implications that are hidden further in what has been put forward by people in the process of collecting data. In addition, assumptions of background information has been taken so that to close the scrutiny of the data that has been provided to aid in firming the analysis base and conclusions that are have been given.
3.8 Ethical considerations
It is clear that the employees would like to make comments with strict confidentiality; this was made clear to the interviewees that information would be regarded as confidential as possible and that the information would be stored with utmost confidentiality as much as possible. This assurance was taken care of in the course of the interviews. The interviews were labeled in a way that was known to the researcher alone. The researcher took a neutral stance as much as possible as the employees would be suspicious that someone in the company would be out collecting data but I made I explained the purpose of the research so that all forms of fears were cleared.
It was considered unethical to use exit interviews for staff that had left the companies since 2007; this was taken to be an unintended use of information at the given time.
The research has been analyzed in terms of philosophy, strategy, design, instruments and the procedures and has been presented above. The findings from the interviews and the survey will be presented in the chapter that follows.
QUALITATIVE DATA ANALYSIS: RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS
4.1 Chapter overview
It is in this chapter that the qualitative data analysis of the study is conducted. The chapter is divided into three sections. The rationale for using qualitative data analysis is described in the first section; it is then followed by the rationale for using qualitative research design and the tools and instruments that are used in this study. The second section involves the background information of the respondents that have been interviewed in this study and give the rationale of their inclusion in this study. In the third section, the results and the discussions are given and; they are based on the objectives of the study.
4.2 Qualitative data analysis in the study
According to McMillan and Schumacher (2001), qualitative data analysis is mainly an inductive procedure for categorising data and recognising the relationships that are found in the categories. The two authors further explain that the meaning of inductive analysis is that categories and relationships come out of data rather being forced onto the data before data collection. Analytic styles vary from one researcher to another when numerous data (field notes, documents, and interview transcripts) are organised and therefore differ in terms of structure and narration; this will depend on the mode of qualitative inquiry has been done on the study, the objectives, focus, and the strategies that have been engaged in collecting data. However, qualitative data analysis is a systematic process of choosing, creating categories for the data, synthesising and interpreting to give explanations regarding the phenomenon that is being studied (McMillan, 2008).
For the purpose of his research study, the procedure that qualitative data analysis is given in the figure below.
Figure 4.1 Data analysis process used in the project
First, basing on the semi structured interview schedule, the data was collected from selected respondents who respondents all types of corporate employees ranging from engineers, IT professionals, clerks and accountants. The researcher conducted 10 interviews, which included engineers, accountants, IT professionals, and clerical employees so that the views could be balanced. All data collected was based on the English language and therefore was need for transcription. All the respondents were English speaking. The interviews were then imported to N-Vivo software that was used in the analysis. After the coding, the data was then interpreted and presented.
4.3 Data coding and analysis with NVivo
Data coding for the transcripts were coded using NVivo software for many reasons. One reason is that the data could be easily identified by use of NVivo. One advantage of using NVivo is that it has folders, which can be used for organising, storing and managing the interview transcripts. For this reason, the textual data that was found in Microsoft Word were directly imported to NVivo.
Another reason for conducting a qualitative research in the project is that it could provide a detailed understanding of the research problems; in this case, NVivo software helps the researcher to give a precise analysis, besides linking the qualitative and quantitative data that was presented in the study. This means that data was started immediately the documents were imported to the program using tools in NVivo like nodes. In NVivo, nodes are the places where categories and coding of data are stored for providing reliable and qualitative research (Richards, 2005; QRS International, 2006). In the case, Richards (2005) states that to have a valid conclusion, the researcher must be able to convince the issues that are being studied and the way it is studied.
Also worth noting is the coding process in NVivo where it entails bringing together data and ideas (QRS, 2006). It has been clarified that before qualitative software was invented, coding might have been got by way of marking transcripts in margins. It is possible today for researchers to code using NVivo by placing references to source contents whereby the researcher can have a review, can reflect, and even perfect the themes so that they can provide a detailed picture of the data.
4.4 Background information of the qualitative data
The purposive (non-probability) sampling in this research study by use of semi-structured interview design was aimed at getting qualitative data. Most of all, the designed was characterized by both open-ended and close-ended questions which was done so that more opportunities for informants could be given so that it could explain the issues that are being explained and also to promote content accuracy and validity of the information that has been provided. In this regard, the study engaged selected professionals that represented the study sample, which cut across all categories of corporate departments. The following provides the demographic data of the qualitative data analysis.
The profession that the researcher interviewed were from the clerical, accounting, IT and engineering. They are representative when professions are concerned.
From the two figures above, it is clear that there are more males than female who were used. The reason for this is that more male were willing to share their experiences than female. In the case of professional, more IT professionals were used, as they are more likely to have Internet connections beyond the office.
4.5 Results of data analysis and discussions
The research study, “Small business innovativeness: possibilities of social networking amongst corporate workers on their journey to work in a prospective bus service company”, focused on the use of social networks to start a new bus service to provide comfortable travelling for corporate employees in the area of Lagos Metropolis area of Nigeria; it is applicable to all people who aim to start companies and new products with the use of social networks. The purpose of this study was to gather data through various methods (like interviews, surveys) to bring together all the participants from all the sides of the issue and to facilitate public opinion on the use of social networks in establishing new services. The ultimate goal is to help bring out the role that social networks have in the establishing of a new and comfortable means of transport in the Lagos area for employees working in corporate companies.
After coding the data, the researcher started establishing links that existed between different data contexts so that themes could be formulated as the desired result of the analytical process. The themes and their contents will be fully reported in this chapter. It is important to note that the coding was guided by the fact that the researcher wanted to find out the relationship that existed between the use of social networks and starting of a new bus service.
4.5.1 Qualitative data analysis
After the researcher appropriately restructured, coded and linked between the different data context that was found in the research, he went ahead to refine the data so that accurate results could be obtained. The data was then analysed so that themes that was common with the data could be obtained. The researcher managed to assess ten corporate employees who were distributed as follows: there were three information technology professionals, two accountants, two engineers and two clerks. The rationale for choosing these people is based on the fact that they might not be having their own means of transport to work and therefore will find out ways of accessing a means which they will use to go to work. The theme that was got from the coded work is discussed in the sections that follow.
220.127.116.11 Theme 1: Perception towards social networks
From the research, it was clear that many corporate employees have hope and confidence towards the adoption of social networks. Many employees believe that social networks are used to boost communication in organizations.
Table 1: Role of social networks in communication
When asked if social networks improved business communications, for example, Willy says
“Yes I think it could boost business communications especially within an organization, but then again it would encourage office gossip as well. If the same platform can be used for official communications or constructive chats only, then a greater advantage will be realized form them”.
While Catherine responded:
“Yes it will boost communications in business to a greater extend. It has helped boost interpersonal communications ant social level, what will make the same not be transferred to business perspective”.
As is clear from table 1, many of the corporate employees who interviewed confirmed to the fact that social network is very important, as it has helped to enhance communication in the organisations they work. Interpersonal communication has been seen to be boosted by social network. This question was important as it helped to get to know the perception that the users of these users had towards social networks; even though it might be seen to be short of the main agenda of the paper, it is important to know the perception that the users and the organisations they work for have towards social networks.
From the data, corporate employees have a perception about the use of social networks and it is the first step to find out the perception that corporate employees have. It would be baseless if the researcher did not have a clear perception and view of the completely social networks as perceived in organizations. From the data, all participants who were interviewed showed some positive perception towards social networks especially when it comes to communication. An extract of this is shown in the text coding shown below: