The study is designed to answer whether there is a relationship between the approach to using social media and changes in the internal communication in public sector institutions in Dubai and whether the use of social media influences the effectiveness of internal communication. The paper reveals the relevance of the investigation. The operational definitions of variables for this study and research questions are formulated. The methods include a cross-sectional survey questionnaire and interviews with managers and Internal Communication specialists working in the governmental organization of Dubai. Consequently, the data received from managers would be sampled.
More frequently than in the past, social media are used by managers to inform employees about upcoming events, post updates regarding different projects, and initiate discussions (Mount & Martinez, 2014). Therefore, it is possible to speak about the active use of social media to change internal communication patterns. This topic needs to be explored in detail with particular focus on the public sector of Dubai because the current impact of social media on the internal communication is significant (Noor Al-Deen & Hendricks, 2012). Although strict legislation is followed in Dubai regarding the use of social media, many organizations in the UAE adopted social media for their communication purposes. They chose to share the information with employees immediately (Golden, Wulf, Alanazi, Alhamad, & Shomefun, 2014).
However, the processes of applying social media to internal communication are different in the private and public sectors because of strict regulations followed in governmental institutions, and the internal communication in this sector requires further research. It is also necessary to refer to the key concepts identified by researchers concerning the topic previously, the problem in the sphere of internal communication, and methods that can be appropriate to answer the research questions.
In the scholarly literature, the study of internal communication in organizations is associated with the sphere of management of human resources and the development of the corporate culture (Huang, Baptista, & Galliers, 2013). Studies on the internal communication in governmental organizations state that managers working in the public sector prefer to choose traditional ways of sharing the information like face-to-face meetings, conferences, and letters (Oliveira & Welch, 2013).
With the advent and growth in online communication, the active use of emails in the corporate environment has increased exponentially, perhaps to distraction. Oliveira and Welch (2013) state that many companies adapted to social media for internal communication because of such an advantage as its flexibility, ease of use, and that employees tend not to ignore it as easily as they do email. The use of social media in the corporate context, especially in the public sector, is the newest trend (Lardi & Fuchs, 2013).
Moreover, some researchers also note that the use of social media in the Dubai public sector differs from approaches used in other countries for corporate communication since it is so highly regulated in Dubai (Golden et al., 2014). Internal communication aimed at increasing the level of loyalty and motivation of employees. Consequently, it seems necessary to explore the internal communications of the public sector in Dubai used to ensure that every employee of the company is aware of the responsibilities entrusted to him or her.
Why specifically managers working at public sector institutions in Dubai tend to avoid or limit their use of informal language and creative or catchy posts to attract employees’ attention while using social media for communicating internally? This problem of limited use of social media in internal communication in governmental organizations can be examined with references to the following research questions:
- RQ1: Is there a relationship between the increasing popularity in using social media and changes in the internal communication behavior of public sector institutions in Dubai?
- RQ2: Can social media use by managers in the public sector influence the effectiveness of internal communication?
The operational definitions are related to internal communication and social media use. According to Verghese (2012), internal communication will be defined as the exchange of job-related data and facts between and among employees in the corporate context. Social media use will be defined as the application of social media tools or channels (e.g., WhatsApp, Snapchat, etc.) to communicate via written posts using different languages to initiate discussions and share or updating information.
Many managerial techniques are initially implemented in the public sector. Rettab, Brik, and Mellahi (2009) in their case study of the social responsibility in the corporate companies mention that companies of Dubai Public Sector, such as Arab Media Group, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Knowledge Village, and some others, admit that the overall performance of the employees can often be hindered by the lack of effective communication within the company.
Those companies began to implement innovative managerial practices to improve the communication effectiveness between the management, employees, and customers. Those practices include customer support services and organizing the system of feedback from the employees. The major issue, however, is the lack of interactive elements and sometimes the prolonged time of response in case of the customer support services (Rettab et al., 2009). Those managerial practices can be the first step to improving internal communication in Dubai public sector. However, given the increasing popularity of social media, they can be used by managers for improving communications on the different levels of the corporate structure of the Dubai public sector.
Every study needs a research design before starting because it is an integral part of the research. Since the purpose of this research is to examine the presence or absence of a relationship between the use of social media and possible changes in the internal communication of governmental organizations in Dubai, the following variables are identified: social media use (independent variable) and changes in internal communication (dependent variable).
It is anticipated that there will be differences in the quantity &/or quality of internal communications as a result of the use of social media for internal communications. A qualitative method involves the collection of information in a free form; it focuses on the understanding, explanation, and interpretation of empirical data that is the source of speculation and productive ideas. A quantitative method comprises conducting various surveys based on the use of structured questions of closed type, which corresponds to a large number of respondents. The main objective of quantitative research is to obtain a numerical estimate of the issue or the reaction of respondents towards it. Therefore, the study will utilize a mixed-methods approach to collect the data for analysis that allows collecting both descriptive statistical data through the use of a survey/questionnaire and taking advantage of the “richer data” that can be expected from qualitative interviews. The anticipated questions to be included in the research concern:
- the managerial techniques used by the company to improve the communications;
- which aspects of the internal communication are dissatisfying;
- social media used by the employee in their spare time;
- interactive programs used in the internal communications in the workplace.
A cross-sectional survey will be used to collect and analyze descriptive quantitative data regarding internal communication changes that can be influenced by the use of social media (Hansen & Machin, 2013). The form of social media usage (creative posts, catchy titles, formal posts, formal updates, etc.) adopted in the organization and its impact on internal communication of the organization’s development will be analyzed based on questionnaires with closed-ended questions.
According to Reagan (2006), the cross-sectional survey allows the ability to determine the possible changes and will either support or refute the anticipated outcomes with nominal &/or ordinal evidence that can be discussed with a reasonable degree of reliability. For this study, survey questionnaires are a cost and time-effective way to solicit opinions and behavior of public sector employees and managers and their use of social media for internal communications.
Interviews will be used to collect more detailed information on social media usage in governmental institutions’ internal communication. A semi-structured interview will be employed to collect qualitative information from Internal Communication specialist, who carries out the internal information campaigns and events, including festivals, competitions, meetings, and conferences (Albarran, 2013). He or she is working in the public sector institution to determine what aspects make them choose certain approaches to utilizing social media and what outcomes they have observed (Creswell, 2013).
Sampling and Procedure
The purposive sampling is used for the study. Two Dubai governmental institutions will be contacted to participate in the research. Internal Communication specialists and managers from the two institutions will be interviewed on their approaches to using social media. The questionnaire on the effectiveness of internal communication will be distributed amongst the governmental institution’s employees. Overall, the anticipated figure appropriate for the interview needs to include 50 people from different institutions.
In conclusion, it should be stressed that the problems that need to be understood regarding why managers in public sector institutions in Dubai embrace or avoid using social media and other creative approaches to internal communication need to be explored. Likewise, questions regarding whether there is a relationship between social media use and internal communication effectiveness in governmental institutions have not been fully explored. In the framework of the growing significance of internal media, it seems appropriate to investigate this field. The study aims to examine how different approaches to using social media can influence international communication quality in the public sector of Dubai.
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