Is social media a distraction or an enhancement for organisations? A social media and team creativity model (SMTCM)

Principal Investigator
Grant Awarding Body
Research Grants Council
Grant Type
Faculty Development Scheme
Project Code
Amount awarded
Funding Year
Duration of the Project
24 months
Social media has been widely adopted by individuals and organisations over the past decade. In recent years, the rapid developments of mobile technology have enabled social media to penetrate many aspects of daily life. Facebook, according to its statistics, had over 4.4 million users in Hong Kong in 2014, with a penetration rate of around 60%. More than 86% of these users access Facebook via mobile devices, which is one of the highest rates in Asia. In addition, many people in Hong Kong use WhatsApp and WeChat for mobile instant messaging. Undoubtedly, social media and its applications are shaping the way individuals and organisations communicate. But is this change good or bad? In particular, does social media use impede or enhance aspects of job performance, such as innovation, in an organisational context?

Whether they like it or not, employers realise that increasingly their employees use social media to communicate with each other. Leaving voice or text messages for team members is replacing some fact-to-face communication, due to its effectiveness and efficiency. Employees also use their organisational mobile devices at home, extending team communication beyond the traditional workplace boundaries. When mobile devices are incorporated into work processes, the traditional ways of structuring work patterns are altered to be more diversified. These changes in communication influence many aspects of a team, especially the interaction among team members, which in turn influences team creativity.

This study aims to examine the social media usage of employees and its effect on team creativity. We propose a social media and team creativity model (SMTCM) based on group property framework. Group properties include role, cohesiveness, norms, status and size of groups. We examined each property from an interpersonal perspective with regard to social media use and then, developed five social-media-enhanced interpersonal factors for team creativity, including role trust, team cohesiveness, collaboration facilitation, conformity pressure reduction, and social loafing prevention. These factors are believed to be influenced by social media use and thereby to influence team creativity. Moreover, we believe the ubiquity of social media positively affects social media use. This study is expected to contribute to the existing literature by highlighting the role of social media use on team creativity and offer important insights to both research and practice.