Virtual Social Structure in Actual State Organisation
Virtual world is a standard today and more clearly enters real spheres of life (Hua and Haughton 2009). It caters for the needs of information and entertainment, social interactions (including building certain communities), self-promotion or selfrealisation—through creating own content available in global scale (Shao 2009).
Social networks, also called social media, gather billions of users. Web 2.0 webpages, where on a massive scale social networking sites developed: Myspace, Facebook, Flicker, YouTube or LinkedIn, give people an opportunity of being a co-architect, graphic designer or author of such webpages. Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) characterises the user-created content by:
(a) need of publication (and presentation on a wider forum),
(b) creative effort (related to author's own input in the publication)
(c) creation outside of the professional life (in free time, often non-profit actions or actions focused on a certain profit) (Wunsch-Vincen and Vickery 2007; Klimczuk 2011).
Facebook only at the end of 2012 had almost 900 million of users. It is a kind of new social engineering, where the generations who do not know the world without Facebook, since it has existed since their birth, starts losing the ability to differentiate between the real world and the Internet. The research conducted by the scientists of University of Southern California show, that brain constantly cooperating with the Internet does not manage to process information received daily by a person in amount of about 34 gigabytes (34 GB), which corresponds to 100,000 words. So overloaded brain is forced to go into emergency mode. It disconnects prefrontal cortex responsible for the operation of working memory, the part responsible for tolerance, empathy or altruism. As a consequence a person experiences retarded reactions and needs eight seconds instead of two to react to a given stimulus to process visual information to sensations (inner feelings). Additionally, he becomes indifferent, if a situation or event does not apply to him personally. G. Small—scientist and psychiatrist form University of California in Los Angeles calls the new Web generation the digital natives. Such generation is able to memorise large amounts of information, but does not have ability to interpret and use them. Digital natives are not creative, but reproductive. Small also believes,
Fig. 3.2 Scopes of organisational participation of members of virtual organisations. Source: B. Koles
P. Nagy 2014, Individual and professional development in the digital age. Towards conceptual model of virtual world for organizations, “Management Research Review”, Vol. 37, No. 3, p. 295
that people accompanied with Internet from childhood start to resemble people with autism. They experience frequent problems with understanding a different point of view, communicating feelings or maintaining social relationships (e.g. limited ability to read body language, avoiding eye contact) (Nikodemska 2012).
In China addiction to the Internet was considered to be a public health risk, and 11 % of users were diagnosed as addicts. At the same time 27 % of teenage users neglects school, duties, and social life due to tendencies to addictions (CNNIC 2009). It has been proven, that online games are a significant, often the biggest part of past time activities of young people in China and have the largest influence on increase in Internet addictions, but do not show any correlation with negative results at school (Jiang 2014). On the other hand, the research of Zhuang et al. (2013) showed two paradoxes of social networking sites. It has turned out, that assimilation (either directly and indirectly) has a positive influence on users' experience, strengthening their loyalty to visited pages. It means, that social network may create groups of loyal customers, if their administrators strengthen their user's competences and trust. The second paradox is that an important role in social networks plays pleasure, strengthening loyalty, and contributing to joining people in “contacts”. In addition, the higher the social network users' incompetence, the lower was their loyalty and pleasure of use.
Thus using the Web, one needs to remember, that it is very useful and sometimes necessary, but still only a tool for real activity.
But today's virtual world is rightfully perceived as a place to create social interactions, playing certain roles and taking organisational, professional or economic activities (Bell 2008). Internet users' protests in 2012 massively moved from the Web to the streets and in the Internet took the form of hacker attacks on government institutions against proceeded international commercial agreement regarding fight with counterfeited goods ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement). They show that everything can be changed and governors and managers of a state do not always have to have the last word regarding regulations of the socio-economic processes.
In more organisational and stable approach, employees in the model of engagement in virtual world can participate in three dimensions of organisation: selfrelation, role experimenter and social capital (Fig. 3.2).
A scope of participation in virtual world is distinguished in this model. Each of the three dimensions of organisation (institution) is divided into companies, which enjoy the full participation in virtual world and those who do it occasionally and in clearly specified way. The first dimension—self-relation—regards the option with experiences characteristic for virtual environment (reflexivity, large independence, flexibility, discovering personal preferences, emotions; transferring the experience from real world to virtual one and the other way round, mutual influence). The second dimension, namely role experimenter, allows transgressing the virtual world and real actions within specified roles and their identification. It allows learning and constant development, since through role playing it enables secondary tracking and analysis of arising problems, thinking them over, and in consequence searching for new variants of solutions. Anonymity can thus be a beneficial aspect of organisational actions, especially for people with reduced sense of personal safety and lower self-esteem. At the same time identification of roles in this dimension is beneficial from both the point of view of management and advantages in real world, e.g. new relationships, transfer of knowledge. The last, third, reference of this model is social capital focused on team work and creating virtual teams. It underlines the features of interpersonal relationships, which helps to build especially trust, common visions and goals, and their joint acceptance (Koles and Nagy 2014).