Applying network theory to the technology to performance profit chain: a social media application

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University of Alabama Libraries

It is beyond question that social media has altered the day-to-day lives of individuals in their social interactions. However, less is known about the quantifiable impact of social media on business, especially in the sales domain. As sales has progressed from a transactional, to relational, to co-creation of value endeavor, marked by substantial engagement between customer and salesperson, technology has been a regular facilitator of change, enabling information collection, use and transfer in ways once thought unimaginable. In a similar way, the use of social media technology has that same potential, as the gap between buyer and seller closes around an increasingly important salesperson or boundary spanner, with access to information and the customer like never before. However, little is known about the strategic outcomes and facilitating conditions of such social media technology usage. This research advances deeper understanding by exploring the role of salesperson social media technology usage as an antecedent to three increasingly important strategic outcomes in the sales domain. Using social exchange theory as its primary foundation, this dissertation explores the links between frequency and intensity of social media technology usage and 1) competitive intelligence, 2) communication reciprocity, and 3) value co-creation, finding positive support for each of the three hypothesized primary linear relationships in the conceptual framework. Through network theory, this work also investigates the moderating impact of important salesperson network characteristics, including size, density, heterogeneity, and quality in an effort to identify which organizations and salespeople, specifically, are most likely to benefit from such technology investment and use. Findings support two of the moderating hypotheses, demonstrating that the size of the salesperson's network has a detrimental impact on both communication reciprocity, and value co-creation perhaps as the relationship with each and every individual customer begins to suffer at the expense of servicing the mass. Results also suggest fertile ground for future work potentially exploring the impact of three additional moderating relationships found on the cusp of partial support.

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