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When Worlds Collide in Cyberspace

When Worlds Collide in Cyberspace

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Published by Herman Couwenbergh
Ollier-Malaterre, A, Rothbard, N., & Berg, J. (2013). When worlds collide in cyberspace: How Boundary Work in Online Social Networks Impacts Professional Relationships. Academy of Management Review. doi: 10.5465/amr.2011.0235
Ollier-Malaterre, A, Rothbard, N., & Berg, J. (2013). When worlds collide in cyberspace: How Boundary Work in Online Social Networks Impacts Professional Relationships. Academy of Management Review. doi: 10.5465/amr.2011.0235

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Published by: Herman Couwenbergh on Mar 08, 2013
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When Worlds Collide in Cyberspace:How Boundary Work in Online Social Networks Impacts Professional RelationshipsAriane Ollier-Malaterre
Rouen Business Schoolaom@rouenbs.fr  
Nancy P. Rothbard
The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvanianrothbard@wharton.upenn.edu 
Justin Berg
The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania bergj@wharton.upenn.edu December, 2012Forthcoming,
Academy of Management ReviewKey words:
Boundary work, Online social networks, Work-nonwork preferences for Integrationand Segmentation, Self-enhancement, Self-verification, Respect, Liking, Relationships.
Note:
We thank our editor, Kevin Steensma, and the three anonymous reviewers who providedinsightful comments. We thank the Wharton Center for Leadership and Change Management andthe Wharton Global Initiatives Research Program for funding. We thank participants at the 2011Wharton People and Organizations Conference and members of the Contemporary P@thways of Career, Life and Learning Research Center of Rouen Business School for their helpful commentson prior versions of this paper. We thank Tarani Merriweather Woodson for her helpful researchassistance.
 
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When Worlds Collide in Cyberspace:How Boundary Work in Online Social Networks Impacts Professional RelationshipsABSTRACT
As employees increasingly interact with their professional contacts on online social networksthat are personal in nature, such as Facebook or Twitter, they are likely to experience a collisionof their professional and personal identities that is unique to this new and expanding social space.In particular, online social networks present employees with boundary management and identitynegotiation opportunities and challenges, because they invite non-tailored self-disclosure to broad audiences, while offering few of the physical and social cues that normally guide socialinteractions. How and why do employees manage the boundaries between their professional and personal identities in online social networks, and how do these behaviors impact the way they areregarded by professional contacts? We build a framework to theorize about how work-nonwork  boundary preferences and self-evaluation motives drive the adoption of four archetypical sets of online boundary management behaviors (open, audience, content, and hybrid), and theconsequences of these behaviors for respect and liking in professional relationships. Content andhybrid behaviors are more likely to increase respect and liking than open and audience behaviors; audience and hybrid behaviors are less risky for respect and liking than open andcontent behaviors but more difficult to maintain over time.
 
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As the world becomes increasingly connected through social media, employees areinteracting more with co-workers, supervisors, and other professional contacts on online socialnetworks. Some of these online networks, such as Facebook or Twitter, are social spaces whereinteractions can be personal as well as professional. Participation in such networks results in a potential collision of professional and personal worlds that may open up opportunities as well ascreate challenges for employees as they strive to establish and maintain respect and liking in theeyes of their professional contacts (Ashforth, Kreiner, & Fugate, 2000; Kossek, Noe, & Demarr,1999; Phillips, Rothbard, & Dumas, 2009). When interacting in online social networks,employees move from offline interactions, where disclosure and feedback are tailored within particular conversations and guided by clear physical cues (Goffman, 1956), to interactionscharacterized by open disclosure to broad audiences, some of which are not readily visible(Boyd, 2007; Donath & Boyd, 2004; Ryan, 2008). Thus, in the new world of work, collisions of one’s professional and personal domains are increasingly frequent online. This presents newopportunities and challenges for boundary management and identity negotiation in cyberspacethat are not directly addressed in past theory and research on these processes in physical space(e.g., Ashforth et al., 2000; Kreiner, 2006; Kreiner, Hollensbe, & Sheep, 2009; Nippert-Eng,1995; Rothbard, Phillips, & Dumas, 2005; Swann, Johnson & Bosson, 2009). Although scholarshave begun to investigate challenges for individuals using social media more generally (Donath& Boyd, 2004; Ellison, Steinfeld, & Lampe, 2007; Forest & Wood, 2012), little is known abouthow employees manage the boundary between their professional and personal identities ononline social networks and what this means for their professional relationships.To guide theory and research on online boundary management, we build a framework that extends boundary theory into the new and expanding world of online social networks. We

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