Pacific Asia Journal of the Association for Information Systems


Background: The usage of mobile instant messaging (MIM) applications such as WhatsApp and Telegram in an organization has become increasingly popular. Unfortunately, studies on the phenomenon, especially its impact on organizations, such as power distribution, have been scarce. Thus, this study asks, how does MIM technology affect power distribution in an organization? The objectives are twofold. The first is to determine how the MIM technology altered the distribution of power in an organization. The second is to identify why a collaborative tool intended for social use can have a profound impact on power relations in an organization.

Method: This case study involved interviews with twenty-one participants through six group interview sessions. The management selected the participants based on the study requirements. The interview participants were selected from different levels of the organization’s hierarchy that use MIM actively in managing work.

Results: The findings suggest that increased use of MIM for many activities, such as delivering instructions and monitoring work progress, has had a profound effect on power distribution. The findings suggest that the implementation of MIM in managing work reinforces the status quo of top management through the congregation of employees, forced commitment, and the illusion of consensus.

Conclusions: MIM can reinforce the power of the top management over the rest by extending its reach to all levels in the organization. Findings from this study add to the existing knowledge on the relationship between power and information systems (IS) and power relations and MIM.

Available at: https://aisel.aisnet.org/pajais/vol12/iss3/4/