The Role of Enterprise Social Media during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Insights from Leaders' Experience




Enterprise Social Media, COVID-19, Performance Management, Social Technology, Leader Member Exchange, Task-Technology Fit


The COVID-19 pandemic impacted workplaces, with public health orders requiring people to shift their workplaces into their homes. Consequently, many organisations pivoted to online operation and utilised technology such as Enterprise Social Media (ESM) to help manage this transition. In this study we explore leaders' diverse use of ESM during the pandemic, including whether it was used for performance management and how it shaped leaders’ social behaviour. We conducted fifteen semi-structured interviews with leaders in a large Australian University using the ESM technology. Our results explore the nuances of ESM use during this time including how it was used as a social tool, a communication tool, and as an informal means to collect performance data. Interviews also revealed concerns with ESM use such as privacy and information redundancy. Our work advances the Task-Technology Fit (TTF) literature by conceptualising cognitive and affective mechanisms to understand how utilisation moderates TTF outcomes. These mechanisms are contingent on how leaders use ESM and the level of their interactions and engagements. We identify practical implications of ESM use at a time of crisis including leader training, clear guidelines for internal communication, efficient information sharing practices, and informed consent for ESM-related data collection practices.

Author Biographies

Ly Fie Sugianto, Monash Business School, Monash University

Associate Professor Ly Fie Sugianto is a Faculty member at the Monash Business School, Monash University. She has been appointed as an expert of international standing by the ARC College of Expert for the discipline of mathematical modelling and simulation. Her areas of research include: (1) Reinforcement Learning for strategic bidding in competitive market, (2) Data analytics for economic scheduling and dispatch of electricity, and (3) Understanding behavioral usage of current technology. A/Prof Sugianto's recent research projects include: Exploring the effectiveness of deregulated electricity industry using different auction rules; Discovering emergence and gaming behavior in competitive market; Examining the effect of mobile technology usage on work engagement and emotional exhaustion; Measuring satisfaction in mobile portal usage. She has also been engaged in projects developing intelligent decision support systems to optimise inventory for Jeeralang power station and for Western Power (formerly the State Electricity Commission of Western Australia).

Carly Moulang, Monash Business School, Monash University

Carly Moulang, PhD. is an Associate Professor at the Department of Accounting, Monash Business School, Monash University.

Brett Considine, Monash Business School, Monash University

Brett Considine, PhD. is a Lecturer and Deputy Director for Education at the Department of Accounting, Monash University.


Abelsen, S. N., Vatne, S., Mikalef, P., & Choudrie, J. (2021). Digital working during the COVID-19 pandemic: How Task–Technology Fit improves work performance and lessens feelings of loneliness. Information Technology & People, 36(5), 2063-2087.

Archer-Brown, C., & Kietzmann, J. (2018). Strategic knowledge management and enterprise social media. Journal of Knowledge Management, 22(6), 1288-1309.

Archibald, M. M., Ambagtsheer, R. C., Casey, M. G., & Lawless, M. (2019). Using zoom video conferencing for qualitative data collection: Perceptions and experiences of researchers and participants. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 18, 1609406919874596.

Arnaboldi, M., Busco, C., & Cuganesan, S. (2017). Accounting, accountability, social media and big data: Revolution or hype? Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 30(4), 762-776.

Avanade. (2013). Global Survey: Is enterprise social collaboration living up to its promise?

Avolio, B. J., & Kahai, S. S. (2003). Adding the “E” to e-leadership: How it may impact your leadership. Organizational Dynamics, 31(4), 325-338.

Banks, G. C., Dionne, S. D., Mast, M. S., & Sayama, H. (2022). Leadership in the digital era: A review of who, what, when, where and why. The Leadership Quarterly, 33, 101634.

Bartsch, S., Weber, E., Büttgen, M., & Huber, A. (2020). Leadership matters in crisis-induced digital transformation: How to lead service employees effectively during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Service Management, 32(1), 71-85.

Bauch, K. A., Kotzian, P., & Weißenberger, B. E. (2021). Likeability in subjective performance evaluations: Does it bias managers’ weighting of performance measures? Journal of Business Economics, 91(1), 35-59.

Bernstein, E. S. (2012). The transparency paradox: A role for privacy in organizational learning and operational control. Administrative Science Quarterly, 57(2), 181-216.

Brivot, M., & Gendron, Y. (2011). Beyond panopticism: On the ramifications of surveillance in a contemporary professional setting. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 36(3), 135-155.

Bulgurcu, B., Van Osch, W., & Kane, G. C. (2018). The rise of the promoters: User classes and contribution patterns in enterprise social media. Journal of Management Information Systems, 35(2), 610-646.

Cardy, R. L., & Dobbins, G. H. (1986). Affect and appraisal accuracy: Liking as an integral dimension in evaluating performance. Journal of Applied psychology, 71(4), 672-678.

Carnevale, J. B., & Hatak, I. (2020). Employee adjustment and well-being in the era of COVID-19: Implications for human resource management. Journal of Business Research, 116, 183-187.

Carr, N. (2021, December 31). Not being there: From virtuality to remoteness.

Chang, H. H. (2008). Intelligent agent's technology characteristics applied to online auctions’ task: A combined model of TTF and TAM. Technovation, 28(9), 564-577.

Chua, W. F. (1986). Radical developments in accounting thought. Accounting Review, 601-632.

Chung, S., Lee, K. Y., & Choi, J. (2015). Exploring digital creativity in the workspace: The role of enterprise mobile applications on perceived job performance and creativity. Computers in Human Behavior, 42, 93-109.

Cidell, J. (2010). Content clouds as exploratory qualitative data analysis. Area, 42(4), 514-523.

Clore, G. L., Gasper, K., & Garvin, E. (2001). Affect as Information, in J. P. Forgas, (ed.). Handbook of Affect and Social Cognition, Mahwah, NJ, USA: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, pp. 121-144.

Deluga, R. J. (1994). Supervision trust building, leader-member exchange and organizational citizenship behaviour. Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, 67(4), 315-326.

DeNisi, A. S., Robbins, T. L., & Summers, T. P. (1997). Organization, processing, and use of performance information: A cognitive role for appraisal instruments. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 27(21), 1884-1905.

Di Fiore, A., & Souza, M. (2021, January 12). Are peer reviews the future of performance evaluations. Harvard Business Review.

Dowling, C., & Leech, S. A. (2014). A Big 4 firm's use of information technology to control the audit process: How an audit support system is changing auditor behavior. Contemporary Accounting Research, 31(1), 230-252.

Dwivedi, Y. K., Shareef, M. A., Akram, M. S., Bhatti, Z. A., & Rana, N. P. (2022). Examining the effects of enterprise social media on operational and social performance during environmental disruption. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 175, 121364.

Ellison, N.B., Gibbs, J. L. & Weber, M.S. (2015). The use of enterprise social network sites for knowledge sharing in distributed organizations: The role of organizational affordances. American Behavioral Scientist, 59(1), 103-123.

Ewing, M., Men, L. R., & O’Neil, J. (2019). Using social media to engage employees: Insights from internal communication managers. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 13(2), 110-132.

Fereday, J., & Muir-Cochrane, E. (2006). Demonstrating rigor using thematic analysis: A hybrid approach of inductive and deductive coding and theme development. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 5(1), 80-92.

Fernandez, A. A., & Shaw, G. P. (2020). Academic leadership in a time of crisis: The coronavirus and COVID‐19. Journal of Leadership Studies, 14(1), 39-45.

Forgas, J. P. (1981). Epilogue: Everyday Understanding and Social Cognition, in J.P. Forgas (ed.), Social Cognition: Perspectives on Everyday Understanding, San Diego, CA: Academic Press, pp. 259-270.

Forgas, J. P., & George, J. M. (2001). Affective influences on judgments and behavior in organizations: An information processing perspective. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 86(1), 3-34.

Foucault, M. (1991). The means of correct training, in P. Rabinow (ed), The Foucault Reader (From discipline and punish), London, UK: Penguin Books.

Fu, J., Shang, R. A., Jeyaraj, A., Sun, Y., & Hu, F. (2020). Interaction between task characteristics and technology affordances: Task-technology fit and enterprise social media usage. Journal of Enterprise Information Management, 33(1), 1-22.

Gamo-Sanchez, A. L., & Cegarra-Navarro, J. G. (2015). Factors that influence the success of a KM-program in a small-sized airport. Journal of Knowledge Management, 19(3), 593-610.

George, T. J., Atwater, L. E., Maneethai, D., & Madera, J. M. (2022). Supporting the productivity and wellbeing of remote workers: Lessons from COVID-19. Organizational Dynamics, 51(2), 100869.

Graen, G. B., & Scandura, T. A. (1987). Toward a psychology of dyadic organizing. Research in Organizational Behavior, 9, 175-208.

Hacker, J., & Riemer, K. (2021). Identification of user roles in enterprise social networks: Method development and application. Business & Information Systems Engineering, 63(4), 367-387.

Hafermalz, E. (2021). Out of the panopticon and into exile: Visibility and control in new culture organizations. Organization Studies, 42(5), 697-717.

Hamouche, S. (2021). Human resource management and the COVID-19 crisis: Implications, challenges, opportunities, and future organizational directions. Journal of Management and Organization, 1-16.

Hardt, M. (1999). Affective labor. Boundary 2, 26(2), 89-100.

Harrysson, M., Schoder, D., & Tavakoli, A. (2016). The evolution of social technologies. McKinsey Quarterly, 3, 8-12.

Highhouse, S., Dalal, R. S., & Salas, E. (2013). Introduction to Judgment and Decision Making, in S. Highhouse, R. S. Dalal and E. Salas (eds.), Judgment and Decision Making at Work, Milton Park, UK: Routledge, pp. 21-30.

Howard, M. C., & Rose, J. C. (2019). Refining and extending task–technology fit theory: Creation of two task–technology fit scales and empirical clarification of the construct. Information & Management, 56(6), 103134.

Howlett, M. (2022). Looking at the ‘field’ through a Zoom lens: Methodological reflections on conducting online research during a global pandemic. Qualitative Research, 22(3), 387-402.

Huang, Y., Vir Singh, P., & Ghose, A. (2015). A structural model of employee behavioral dynamics in enterprise social media. Management Science, 61(12), 2825-2844.

Jeske, D. (2021). Monitoring remote employees: Implications for HR. Strategic HR Review, 20(2), 42-46.

Judge, T. A., & Ferris, G. R. (1993). Social context of performance evaluation decisions. Academy of Management Journal, 36(1), 80-105.

Kahai, S. S., Huang, R., & Jestice, R. J. (2012). Interaction effect of leadership and communication media on feedback positivity in virtual teams. Group & Organization Management, 37(6), 716-751.

Kahai, S., Avolio, B. J., & Sosik, J. J. (2017). E‐leadership, in G. Hertel, D. L. Stone, R.D. Johnson and J. Passmore (eds.), The Wiley Blackwell Handbook of the Psychology of the Internet at Work, Hoboken, NJ, USA: Wiley Blackwell, pp. 285-314.

Kane, G. C. (2015). Enterprise social media current capabilities and future possibilities. MIS Quarterly Executive, 14(1), 1-15.

Kaplan, S. E., Petersen, M. J., & Samuels, J. A. (2007). Effects of subordinate likeability and balanced scorecard format on performance-related judgments. Advances in Accounting, 23, 85-111.

Kwahk, K. Y., & Park, D. H. (2016). The effects of network sharing on knowledge-sharing activities and job performance in enterprise social media environments. Computers in Human Behavior, 55, 826-839.

Larson, L., & DeChurch, L. A. (2020). Leading teams in the digital age: Four perspectives on technology and what they mean for leading teams. The Leadership Quarterly, 31(1), 101377.

Lazzarato, M. (1996). Immaterial Labor, in P. Virno and M. Hardt (eds.), Radical Thought in Italy: A Potential Politics, Minneapolis, MN, USA: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 133-147.

Lee, A. R., Son, S. M., & Kim, K. K. (2016). Information and communication technology overload and social networking service fatigue: A stress perspective. Computers in Human Behavior, 55, 51-61.

Leech, B. L. (2002). Asking questions: Techniques for semi structured interviews. PS: Political Science & Politics, 35(4), 665-668.

Leonardi, P. M., Huysman, M., & Steinfield, C. (2013). Enterprise social media: Definition, history, and prospects for the study of social technologies in organizations. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19(1), 1-19.

Leonardi, P. M., & Vaast, E. (2017). Social media and their affordances for organizing: A review and agenda for research. Academy of Management Annals, 11(1), 150-188.

Liden, R. C., Erdogan, B., Wayne, S. J., & Sparrowe, R. T. (2006). Leader-member exchange, differentiation, and task interdependence: Implications for individual and group performance. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 27(6), 723-746.

Little, L. M., Gooty, J., & Williams, M. (2016). The role of leader emotion management in leader–member exchange and follower outcomes. The Leadership Quarterly, 27(1), 85-97.

Madrid, H. P., Totterdell, P., Niven, K., & Vasquez, C. A. (2018). Investigating a process model for leader affective presence, interpersonal emotion regulation, and interpersonal behaviour in teams. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 27(5), 642-656.

Majchrzak, A., Faraj, S., Kane, G. C., & Azad, B. (2013). The contradictory influence of social media affordances on online communal knowledge sharing. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 19(1), 38-55.

Matthews, M. J., Matthews, S. H., Wang, D. D., & Kelemen, T. K. (2022). Tweet, like, subscribe! Understanding leadership through social media use. The Leadership Quarterly, 33(1), 101580.

McMullan, T. (2015, July 23). What does the panopticon mean in the age of digital surveillance? The Guardian.

Miles, M. B., Huberman, M., & Saldana, J. (2020). Qualitative data analysis: a methods sourcebook (4th edition). London, UK: Sage Publications.

Mitchell, A. (2021). Collaboration technology affordances from virtual collaboration in the time of COVID-19 and post-pandemic strategies. Information Technology & People, 36(5), 1982-2008.

Moqbel, M., & Nah, F. F. H. (2017). Enterprise social media use and impact on performance: The role of workplace integration and positive emotions. AIS Transactions on Human-Computer Interaction, 9(4), 261-280.

Nieken, P. (2022). Charisma in the gig economy: The impact of digital leadership and communication channels on performance. The Leadership Quarterly, 33(in press), 101631.

Odekerken-Schroder, G., Mele, C., Russo-Spena, T., Mahr, D., & Ruggiero, A. (2020). Mitigating loneliness with companion robots in the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond: An integrative framework and research agenda. Journal of Service Management, 31(6), 1149-1162.

Oliffe, J. L., Kelly, M. T., Gonzalez Montaner, G., & Yu Ko, W. F. (2021). Zoom interviews: Benefits and concessions. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 20, 16094069211053522.

Oostervink, N., Agterberg, M., & Huysman, M. (2016). Knowledge sharing on enterprise social media: Practices to cope with institutional complexity. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 21(2), 156-176.

Ouirdi, A. E., Ouirdi, M. E., Segers, J., & Henderickx, E. (2015). Employees’ use of social media technologies: A methodological and thematic review. Behaviour & Information Technology, 34(5), 454-464.

Pan, J., Zheng, X., Xu, H., Li, J., & Lam, C. K. (2021). What if my coworker builds a better LMX? The roles of envy and coworker pride for the relationships of LMX social comparison with learning and undermining. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 42(9), 1144-1167.

Power, M. K., & Gendron, Y. (2015). Qualitative research in auditing: A methodological roadmap. Auditing: A Journal of Practice & Theory, 34(2), 147-165.

Purvanova, R. K., & Bono, J. E. (2009). Transformational leadership in context: Face-to-face and virtual teams. The Leadership Quarterly, 20(3), 343-357.

Rice, R. E., Evans, S. K., Pearce, K. E., Sivunen, A., Vitak, J., & Treem, J. W. (2017). Organizational media affordances: Operationalization and associations with media use. Journal of Communication, 67(1), 106-130.

Riemer, K., & Scifleet, P. (2012). Enterprise social networking in knowledge-intensive work practices: A case study in a professional service firm. In Proceedings of the 23rd Australasian Conference on Information Systems.

Robbins, T. L., & DeNisi, A. S. (1994). A closer look at interpersonal affect as a distinct influence on cognitive processing in performance evaluations. Journal of Applied Psychology, 79(3), 341-353.

Roman, A. V., Van Wart, M., Wang, X., Liu, C., Kim, S., & McCarthy, A. (2019). Defining e‐leadership as competence in ICT‐mediated communications: An exploratory assessment. Public Administration Review, 79(6), 853-866.

Schmidt, C. (2004). The Analysis of Semi-structured Interviews, in U. Flick, E. von Kardoff and I. Steinke (eds.), A companion to qualitative research: Paradigms, theories, methods, practice and contexts, London, UK: Sage Publications, pp. 352.

Sidorova, Y., Arnaboldi, M., & Radaelli, J. (2016). Social media and performance measurement systems: Towards a new model? International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, 65(2), 139-161.

Smith, B., & Sparkes, A. C. (2016). Interviews: Qualitative interviewing in the sport and exercise sciences, in B. Smith and A. Sparkes (eds.), Routledge handbook of qualitative research in sport and exercise, Milton Park, UK: Routledge, pp. 125-145.

Smith, P. (2020, March 24). Slack ready to prove its value amid the crisis. Australian Financial Review.

Suddaby, R., Saxton, G. D., & Gunz, S. (2015). Twittering change: The institutional work of domain change in accounting expertise. Accounting, Organizations and Society, 45, 52-68.

Sun, Y., Zhou, X., Jeyaraj, A., Shang, R. A., & Hu, F. (2019). The impact of enterprise social media platforms on knowledge sharing: An affordance lens perspective. Journal of Enterprise Information Management, 32(2), 233-250.

Sun, Y., Wang, C., & Jeyaraj, A. (2020). Enterprise social media affordances as enablers of knowledge transfer and creative performance: An empirical study. Telematics and Informatics, 51, 101402.

Till, C. (2013). Architects of time: Labouring on digital futures. Thesis Eleven, 118(1), 33-47.

Till, C. (2014). Exercise as labour: Quantified self and the transformation of exercise into labour. Societies, 4(3), 446-462.

Treem, J. W. (2015). Social media as technologies of accountability: Explaining resistance to implementation within organizations. American Behavioral Scientist, 59(1), 53-74.

Treem, J. W., & Leonardi, P. M. (2012). Social media use in organizations: Exploring the affordances of visibility, editability, persistence, and association. Communication Yearbook, 36(1), 143-189.

van Osch, W., & Steinfield, C. W. (2018). Strategic visibility in enterprise social media: Implications for network formation and boundary spanning. Journal of Management Information Systems, 35(2), 647-682.

van Osch, W., Steinfield, C. W., & Balogh, B. A. (2015). Enterprise social media: Challenges and opportunities for organizational communication and collaboration. In Proceedings of the 48th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. doi: 10.1109/HICSS.2015.97

Vasquez, C. A., Madrid, H. P., & Niven, K. (2021). Leader interpersonal emotion regulation motives, group leader–member exchange, and leader effectiveness in work groups. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 42(9), 1168-1185.

Wagner, C. (2004). Wiki: A technology for conversational knowledge management and group collaboration. Communications of the Association for Information Systems, 13, 19.

Wang, Z., Hangeldiyeva, M., Ali, A., & Guo, M. (2022). Effect of enterprise social media on employee creativity: Social exchange theory perspective. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 812490.

Wee, M., Scheepers, H., & Tian, X. (2023). The role of leadership skills in the adoption of business intelligence and analytics by SMEs. Information Technology & People, 36(4), 1439-1458.

Zigurs, I. (2003). Leadership in virtual teams: Oxymoron or opportunity? Organizational Dynamics, 31(4), 339-351.




How to Cite

Sugianto, L. F., Cheng, C., Moulang, C., & Considine, B. (2023). The Role of Enterprise Social Media during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Insights from Leaders’ Experience. Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 27.



Research Articles