In China, WeChat is one of the most widely-used social media applications, playing a prominent role in both personal and organizational domains. In the organizational context, research primarily examines the external use of WeChat as a tool for marketing and advertising but neglects its role as an internal communication tool. In fact, the application has become one of the most essential work communication tools for employees across various types of organizations in China. This study explores the internal uses of WeChat across organizational communication practices, to illuminate this otherwise overlooked scholastic gap and help inform management (in China and globally) of actual and best practices for the use of such technology. As a social media technology, WeChat possesses unique, interactive, empowering, communal, participatory and relational information-sharing features, which have the potential to foster a collaborative organizational culture, facilitate the knowledge-sharing process and construct and promote organization identity. However, as any form of social media, the features of accessibility and mobility may cause overuse at work and beyond, potentially creating work-life conflicts. Qualitative interviews with diverse Chinese employees will seek to uncover answers to two driving questions: How do employees use WeChat? And how do organizations use WeChat? The results intend to reveal any discrepancies between employees’ actual use and organizations’ imposed use of this technology and hence provide implications regarding the broad idealized use of this technology at work. Recommendations will be offered to help employers use the technology to foster a collaborative environment and work-life balanced organizational culture.
WeChat, Technology, Collaborative Culture, Work-Life Balance, China
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session
Assistant Professor, Department of Public Relations, Mount Royal University, Canada