An analysis of fear factors predicting enterprise social media use in an era of communication visibility

Ward Van Zoonen*, Jeffrey W. Treem, Anu Sivunen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: The benefits associated with visibility in organizations depend on employees' willingness to engage with technologies that utilize visible communication and make communication visible to others. Without the participation of workers, enterprise social media have limited value. This study develops a framework to assess what deters and drives employees' use of enterprise social media. Design/methodology/approach: Data were collected from 753 employees of a global company using an online survey. The response rate was 24.5%. The authors used structural equation modeling to test the hypothesized framework. Findings: The results show that various fears by workers may deter or motivate enterprise social media use. This offers an alternative viewpoint for examining the consequences of communication visibility in organizations. Specifically, the findings demonstrate that the fear of accountability and the fear of losing uniqueness reduce enterprise social media use through increased codification efforts. The fear of missing out is directly and positively related to collecting behaviors on enterprise social media. Research limitations/implications: Expectations about participation in visible organizational communication environments are rising. However, as individuals may experience anxiety in such settings, the authors need to direct more analytical focus to the ways individuals manage communication visibility in organizing contexts and develop a deeper understanding of the consequences of fear in workplace communication. Originality/value: The analysis recognizes that fear can play a key role in deterring or motivating workers' specific choices in navigating the challenges that occur when technology can make communication broadly visible. This study uses theorizing on communication visibility to bring together different fear mechanisms to predict enterprise social media use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-375
Number of pages22
JournalInternet Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2022


  • Codification effort
  • Enterprise social media
  • Fear
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Visibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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