The instant messaging generation, wired and integrated into broad, flat networks almost from birth, will not function as their predecessors did when injected into the social networks that form their professional organizations. IM’ers are creating their own network styles and content, as well as their own informal, back-channel networks, different from those of their more senior coworkers, and more compatible with their personal styles and loyalties. If their adoption of workplace communications norms indeed differs from that of their predecessors, how will these individuals function differently as employees, and how will organizations need to adapt their training, their managerial styles, and their expectations of employees’ motivations, performance, and loyalty to incorporate these new employees? After reviewing the literature on social networks, the authors explore a few prominent and visible trends that affect employers and employees: (1) changing communications technologies and their implication for social organization; (2) changing perception of fact, technique, and reality, and implications for authority and decision styles; and (3) outsourcing, downsizing, and the erosion of organizational loyalty. They then offer qualitative impressions, as well as insights from an online survey (of 80 respondents), and explore implications for managers and organizations.
Paradoxes of Modern Networks
Trends Shaping Modern Networks