Monday, September 21, 2015

Social media in organizations: the case of the ambulance services in the Netherlands


With great pleasure, I conducted a field research together with Sibrenne Wagenaar with one of the the ambulance services in the Netherlands. The ambulance service asked us to look for improvement in internal communication; driven by the fact that technological developments offer new opportunities for collaboration and communication within the organization. The initial question was: how can we improve communication within the organization using new media?

We went in search of new forms of internal communication that fit the organization. We did an action research which lasted five months and was conducted by a pioneer group of 17 people, accompanied by us. The action research consisted of internal reflections, research within the organization, visiting other organizations and an experimental phase. Experiences are interesting from the standpoint of how technology influences collaboration within an organization and are likely to be recognizable to other organizations.

Some conclusions
What was especially noticeable is that even if you do not use social media, these media still have an influence on the organization. In this case there was a static intranet, with information from management. At the same time, there were a large amount of Whatapp groups within the organization, often invisible to management. Communication in these groups was often not favorable to the organization in the sense that confusion messages were amplified. If management in an organization does not have an eye for this type of communication via new media, it may strengthen a culture that you do not favour. The outcome was that the organization may benefit from a social intranet, however, a lot of attention should be devoted to stimulate a new way of communication, both face-to-face and online. An experiment showed that people did not like to participate in open groups online, but really need the safety of a small closed group. A social intranet is a big step for this organization and will need a clear vision and several years of implementation.

Download the full article
We wrote an article about our experiences for TVOO in the Netherlands. You may download the article sociale media bij de ambulancedienst  which is in Dutch.

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