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Method To test our hypotheses as shown in Fig. 1, we conducted a survey at an international media company (hereafter referred to as ‘MediaCo’) headquartered in the UK. Its 5500 employees are dispersed throughout the world, partly due to massive acquisitions within the past decade. In exchange for a report on the practical findings and implications of our study, the manager in charge of the company’s social software initiative agreed to let us survey MediaCo’s employees worldwide on their use of the company’s ESSP. At the time of data collection (April/May 2013), MediaCo’s ESSP had been in place for four years, which eliminated possible problems with early-stage adoption (Cooper and Zmud, 1990). MediaCo’s adoption rate (defined as the use of the platform at least once a month) was more than 75%. The ESSP is based on one of the market leaders in this software segment (Drakos et al., 2013) and provides MediaCo’s employees with a rich set of social software features, such as social networking, profile pages, activity streams, weblogs, wikis, micro-blogging, social bookmarking, tagging, e-mail integration, team rooms, and online surveys. The platform additionally offers functionalities for finding colleagues (‘yellow pages’), discussion forums, and document management, as well as access mobile device access to the platform. Employees used the platform for a little more than three hours per week on average. The most frequently used platform feature was social networking, followed by administrative information gathering (e.g., room reservation, workshop registration, employees’ onboarding, and help desk requests). In sum, the ESSP supports employees’ communication, coordination, and collaboration.
Results We used partial least squares (PLS), a component-based structural equation modeling technique, for the data analysis. PLS is particularly suitable for mibefradil development purposes aimed at maximizing the explained variance in the outcome variables (Chin, 1998, Gefen and Straub, 2005). We chose SmartPLS 2.0 M3 as the analytical software (Ringle et al., 2005) to evaluate the research model and then tested the hypotheses. We followed the guidelines by Chin, 1998, Gefen et al., 2011, Hair et al., 2012a, Hair et al., 2012b during the data analysis. Our analysis comprised one-tailed tests, since we had hypothesized the directional effects. When testing an association for which a direction of causality was hypothesized prior to calculation, Autonomous controlling element is known that the estimated value will be either positive or negative. Hence, the value of zero will always be either in the left tail, or the right tail, of the distribution, but not in both. Therefore, a one-tailed test is appropriate for testing directional effects (e.g., Roldán and Sánchez-Franco, 2012). Our study’s operational research model is depicted in Fig. 1.
Discussion We pursued three general hypotheses in this paper. First, we hypothesized that ESSP use has a positive impact on employee performance. Second, we hypothesized that contextual environment – specifically employee task equivocality – moderates the relationship between ESSP use and performance. Third, we hypothesized that different types of use (i.e. intra- vs. inter-team use) influence different types of outcomes (i.e. task vs. innovative performance). In general, we found good support for our hypotheses. We found that ESSP use did positively influence performance and that task equivocality positively moderated this relationship in all but one instance. ESSPs seem to be better suited for supporting non-routine tasks than routine ones. We also found that intra-team use was more strongly associated with improved task performance, while inter-team use was more strongly associated with innovative performance. Contrary to our expectations, task equivocality’s moderating effect on the relationship between intra-team use and performance outcomes was only partially supported. While its moderating effect on the relationship between inter-team use and innovative performance impact was given, the moderating effect of the association between intra-team use and task performance impact could not be shown. A possible reason for this insignificant relationship might be because, given high task equivocality, intra-team use’s demand for information was presumed to be substantially lower (due to their tasks’ non-routineness). Given that employees engaging in intra-team ESSP use are more likely to work in a virtual environment (e.g., Brunelle, 2012, Gibson et al., 2011), they might already have a rather high level of information need for their team-internal interaction and coordination, with little possibility of increasing their demand for information.