The Faces of Bureaucracy: Understanding Enterprise Social Media

Osama Mansour, Ahmad Ghazawneh

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


The social media are often perceived as tools that support openness and flexible participation among individuals and communities. This might explain the reason why social media have become indispensible for many daily practices in organizations. But how do these organizations appropriate and use these media relative to their formal structures and characteristics is a question in focus for the current paper. Drawing on classical concepts of organizational bureaucracy from Weber (1978) and Eisenstadt (1959), we present a qualitative analysis of empirical data obtained from two large organizations that use a wiki as a collaborative knowledge platform. The results show how the tendency to organize the use of the wiki through introducing structure might create barriers for open and democratic collaboration and knowledge sharing at the workplace. They also show that while a
freer approach to using wikis might allow for self-organizing, there is still a possibility for enacting
social structures that limit openness and flexibility. As such, the paper contributes novel insights into
how social media might be used in bureaucracies and soft bureaucracies.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMCIS 2015 Proceedings
Number of pages14
PublisherAIS Electronic Library (AISeL)
Publication date2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventThe 9th Mediterranean Conference on Information Systems: Information Systems in a Changing Economy and Society - Samaina Inn, Samos Island, Greece
Duration: 2 Oct 20155 Oct 2015
Conference number: 9


ConferenceThe 9th Mediterranean Conference on Information Systems
LocationSamaina Inn
CitySamos Island
Internet address


  • Wikis
  • Bureaucracy
  • Organization
  • Social Media


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