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ARCOM Conferences

34rd Annual Conference – Cambridge, UK
3-5 September 2018

Track 5: Keeping Up with the Digital Age: How construction companies use digital communication tools to build up management processes

Lead: Tugce Ercan, Yildiz Technical University (tugcesim@yahoo.com); Fusun Cizmeci, Yildiz Technical University

Recent advances in communication and information technology, especially the rise of social media, are changing the way individuals and businesses interact with each other (Karjaluoto and Ulkuniemi, 2015). One of the most important indicators of this transformation is the emergence of new communication tools called “digital communication tools”. Both practitioners and academics have noted how this social revolution occurring through digital channels will have a profound impact on how people interact with each other and how companies manage their relationships in the changing communications landscape (Greenberg, 2010; Kietzmann et al., 2011; Dennis et al., 2009).

When we talk about digital communication tools, what comes to mind are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and similar social networks that are used online and virtual platforms like web sites, microblogs and search engines. With the advent of new communication tools, already available communication tools (e.g. journals, newspapers, television, cinema, radio ...) are now becoming less prevalent. Unlike the traditional media, digital communication tools enable users to play an active (and even interactive) role instead of a passive one in the communication process. Digital communication tools have the possibility of generating proactive content in a cheaper and faster way. However proactive content also needs to be managed with support of new organisational forms and practices. McNamara and Zerfass (2012) argued that because of the widely perceived benefits, private and public sector organizations are increasingly using as a digital communication tool “social media” for corporate and organizational communication and public relations (PR). McCorcindale (2009) found that 69% of the Fortune 500 companies are using social networking sites. The Towers Watson’s (2010) study of 328 organizations representing 5,000,000 employees worldwide also found that 65% planned to increase their use of social media to engage and build relationships with employees and other stakeholders.

Using new digital communication tools for management functions is recently becoming more prevalent in construction companies. It is seen that construction companies put emphasis on systematic and strategic use of digital communication tools in order to gain competitive advantage in the market and that they mainly use digital communication tools for marketing communication. However, digital communication tools can also be used in other organizational functions’ such as human resource management, project management, in-house communication, communication with other stakeholders, social responsibility, quality management, corporate communication, brand management, public relations, etc. For example it is commonly claimed that social media technologies can help organizations engage with both current and potential employees (Parry and Solidoro, 2013). Research about social media and the impacts they might have on Human Resource Management (HRM) is rapidly evolving. All types of social media (collaborative projects, blogs, content communities, social network sites, virtual game worlds) are used for interaction and communication with other users who might have similar interest (Bondarouk, 2013). Each is unique and offers different opportunities for HRM. As with HRM practices in other project-based enterprises in construction companies, there appears to be an assumption that project-oriented firms have specific HRM requirements, and yet research in this area remains limited (Huemann et al., 2007).

Social media brings elements together (Drury, 2008), but it includes some negative aspects too. Trying to engage with stakeholders and customers in marketing, HRM or project management process through social media introduces potentially weaker controls (Verhoef et al., 2013). As Picazo-Vela et al. (2012) argued, the lack of control has a strong downside, especially for successful companies; exchanging information always entails the possible risk of revealing hidden information. Thus, social media can potentially increase security risks and vulnerabilities for organisations. As social media includes two-way communications, the risk of inserting malware into digital communication platforms exists (Bertot et al., 2012). This can be seen, for instance, in the recent Ransomware attacks.

In this context this track focuses on exploring the role of digital communication tools in organizational functions and in project management processes by construction companies, focusing especially on the contribution digital communication tools such as social media can make to build up new management processes for integration with stakeholders and better performance.

We seek papers that address following questions, but other innovative and relevant topics are welcome:

The value of track is its explorations and even predictions about the role of digital communication tools/social media in construction management and the forecasts about the future developments of it for organizational functions by construction companies. To effectively utilize the advantages offered by the digital communication tools, though, construction firms must adopt social media as a channel of providing information to customers and employees; connecting/integration with all stakeholders; and, ultimately, generating company performance (Tiago and Verrisimo, 2014). Social media is still a new technology that needs to be better understood in terms of its benefits, risks, barriers and strategic use (Picazo-Vela et al., 2012).


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