Crossing hierarchies in organizations: Making sense of employee dissent and circumvention on internal social media


  • Vibeke Thøis Madsen Aalborg University



This paper explores how and why visibility and persistence factors affect employee communication on internal social media (ISM) and influence organizational dissent. This study presents findings from a single case study conducted at a Danish bank. Discussions initiated by employees on ISM were studied for four months, and 24 employees were interviewed about their communication behavior and their perception of communication on ISM. The study found that employees would deliberately use the visibility of communication in the ISM arena to bring up issues that had been ignored by middle managers or support staff. Senior managers were perceived to watch the arena, influencing middle managers or other employees to respond. The efficacy of dissent therefore seemed to increase with the presence of ISM, especially when a post was perceived as well-formulated and an act of prosocial behavior. A new, unwritten rule, therefore, seemed to have emerged that dissent and even circumvention on ISM was acceptable when framed in a constructive manner and aired for the benefit of the organization.






Special Issue: Crossing Organizational Boundaries