Communication is considered one of the inseparable prerequisites of the society. The interactions via cyberspace have become more popular, and the use of Internet had dramatically increased recently. All of that provoked high research interest. This twenty-four months research is an attempt to define the psychology and impact of this cyberspace communication on people's interactions and organization of their time and explore the strategies of doing businesses via on-line options.
The main research objective is to discover whether this type of communication brings advantages or disadvantages to the society development. The qualitative methodsthat fit the best are used to provide a complex description and answer the specific questions set and are as follows: data collection and analysis of documents, topic-focused and semi-structured individual interviews, and the cross-case study analysis.
This proposed study aims to make a substantial and original contribution to knowledge about cyber-psychology. More specifically, it will give an idea of the scientific area that is now being under the literature gap: delineation of social processes with regards to cyber communication, questions to identity peculiarities and on-line behaviours of individuals while communicating with person, and business purposes.
Section 3: Project Details
Communication is considered one of the prerequisites and inseparable parts of the society. The interactions via cyberspace are becoming more popular with every day in many countries. Moreover, sometimes such interaction grows into the relationships creating certain networks or groups, organizing various public campaigns and even seeking for others. The use of Internet had dramatically increased recently and provoked high research interest as well.
Many scholars argue on the age factor in the creation of social networking, the others claim about the development of social roles in a cyberspace that form personal or business relationships. Internet really eases the communication and saves time. However, it does not substitute face-to-face communication. Thus, the main research objective of this work is to clarify whether the cyberspace communication brings advantages or disadvantages to the society development.
Globalization issues are among the most widely discussed when considering the internet social networking, and it has been debated by various parties whether it is a good or bad tendency. This process also stimulates outsourcing activities, which is another option for businesses from the point of view of time-efficiency and the advantages of doing business.
It is essential to understand the relationships between social networks privacy nuances, personal capital, and psychological well-being in relation to youth safety and their achievements in the academic sphere. Furthermore, it is essential to explore how the businesses deal with this type of communication in promoting their activities for gaining higher profit.
As one can see, this a very complex question that touches the individual on the lower level and proceeds with the corporate level, when considering business development strategies and promotion of their brand product. Moreover, using cyberspace communication helps to improve the society concerning the organization of various public campaigns, for example. Thus, this research is an attempt to define the psychology and impact of this cyberspace communication on people's interactions and organization of their time and explore the strategies of doing businesses via on-line options.
Ideas on interdependence between communication of individuals of various ages via social systems of networking from the point of view of the age and interests of the interlocutors, the conduction of business activities on-line, and general aspects of cyber psychology are put forward by significant number of scholars.
According to Wathler (1993), the internet generally provides a totally different context for interlocutor to meet others for the first time by initiating the conversations on various topics and building relationships. The scholar also demonstrates its similarity to face-to-face interactions (Wathler, 1993).
Parties interacting via the internet may be actively engaged in self-disclosure through their extensive verbal exchange of social information of various types. Moreover, besides various business communication aims, Parks and Floyd (1996) also delineate the regular use of the Internet by people in order to meet a special person for maintaining personal relationships. Ryan (1995) and Stafford et al. (1999) are in favour of the aforementioned idea as well.
Bonebrake (2002) is considered as one of the researchers who explore the communication and are called computer-mediated ones. He regards the relationships which appeared on-line as normal experience (Bonebrake, 2002).
There is much evidence that person is able to disclose more information in writing compared to face-to-face communication. Altman and Taylor (1973) support this idea stating that the relationships between people develop more with the increase of the social penetration level. The scholars are convinced that people generally feel closer to their partners by sharing their intimate information about themselves. However, they expect their partners doing the same.
Considering the fact of communication via internet and the level of knowledge of each other, people are much easier to communicate through social networks. Usually, when the interlocutor is not seen, a person has more courage to share more personal information. However, the factors of the psychological peculiarities of the interlocutor, such as the mood and the social surrounding, have to be taken in to the consideration to high extent as well.
The format of information exchange, such as its breadth and depth, are the indicators of self-disclosure. It is the process that stimulates the social penetration. It usually strengthens as a result of sharing a broad range of topics with personal information revealing, which is considered as the core of certain self-concept.
Breadth and depth of the information exchange are equally sufficient to the social penetration process. Taylor and Altman (1987) are convinced that any relationships can develop in 'fashion from superficial to intimate exchange levels.' The scholars are the supporters of the idea that these exchange levels can act as a function of both 'forecast and immediate outcomes' (Taylor & Altman, 1987).
A social network is a group of people that are connected to each another through certain interpersonal means, which can be either friendship or sharing the common ideas or interests. However, it is essential not to confuse that this medium existed long before the appearance of the internet age.
The significance of social networks can be explained by the fact that humans are societal creatures who need the communication and relationships with others merely to survive. This need of emotional connection was claimed by Harlow and Zimmermann (1958), who studied the rhesus monkeys with regards to wire mothers. Henderson (1977) and Durden et al. (2007) consider social networks as critical to the humans' psychological well-being. That fact has been explored by various scholars throughout the years and remains of significant interest to them nowadays.
The previously unanticipated ways of communication can now be replaced by networked computers that allow for the expansion of social networks. Nowadays, the term social networking is used both in pop culture and industry. It refers to the usage of a particular type of website focusing on the development of online social networks, which allows interactions between the users.
The information that is available on social network websites allows the exchange of the information on various topics and aims. Most of those websites encourage the communication by providing the information of relevant user representatives and self-description opportunities. They also allow for the content uploads, which is inevitable in creating business or organization networks.
Walther (1993) suggests that technology-mediated interactions stimulate the presence of the interlocutor. He also contrasts it to the off-line social networks stating that they are also affected by the technology which is used for communication purposes (Walther 1993). Ellison et al. (2007) reports that compared to the nonusers of the internet, those who use it frequently are characterized by having larger social networks, where the internet helps to sustain a social network of individual.
It is an ineradicable fact that the teenagers are considered to be the most frequent users of the websites of social networks, as they spend an enormous amount of time while interacting with others through social media. There are many stereotypes whether it is advantageous or disadvantageous process. Youth is always called an engine of progress and future generation that will make the life better. Those teenagers that are involved in the development of some public initiatives are very quick in organizing various public campaigns. They are more mobile and quick in reaction, so they can activate more people within a shorter time.
Such social networks are very time-efficient when addressing various issues. They do not have any boarders. Thus, many public campaigns can be internationally recognized very fast and do not require passing through the various bureaucracy steps, for example, if somebody decides to organize the event in the city that requires gathering of the large number of the audience.
The vivid example of such a social networking on cooperation would be voting for some green initiative petition, organizing anti-tobacco or anti-alcohol campaign. In the developing countries, people can gather into the groups against their political leader who is considered to be the one who does not operate base on the democratic principles; they can gather money for some orphanages or organize various public campaigns. Moreover, the organization of people into various social networks can result in further physical gathering of the active citizens with the aim of protection of one's rights.
Besides the fact that social networks are very useful in organizing various public campaigns, they are also beneficial for the business relations promotion, marketing activities, and doing business as well. The members of the networks are potential customers that can both accept the goods or ideas and spread it over. Moreover, such communication can also promote the creation of business clusters, which are considered to be the safest and the most economically efficient ways of doing business, as the experience of Europe suggests.
The other benefit of doing business via social networks is that it can involve the representative of different ages and countries. However, it is vital to be careful in both advertising the business and cooperating with other, as there are also many machinations which are connected to this way of gaining the profit.
However, having discussed the role and involvement of young people, it is also obvious that there exist controversies regarding the effects which social networks have on the development of adults as well.
The specific research questions, which will build the basis of the thesis, are:
- What is the general role of cyberspace communication?
- What are the age specificities on participation in social networking systems?
- Does the adolescent participation in those systems harm or help them developing personal and business relationships?
- What is the influence of the social networking systems on students' academic achievements?
- Are there any digital divides regarding the participation of youth in various social networking systems?
- How do the activities in social networking systems impact the personal development of its users from the point of view of psychological well-being and self-esteem?
- What are the responses of various stakeholders: scientists, NGOs, business companies' representatives, and media?
- What are the current circumstances and tendencies on cyber social networking compared between the chosen companies?
In order to satisfy the specific questions of this research, its main objectives are as follows:
- to conduct the analysis of the existing literature sources on the notions of cyberspace users and communication networks and explore the situation in various types of business in general;
- to explore the age specificities on participation in social networking systems and define how that influence contributes to the development of cyberspace communication;
- to select and analyze chosen companies on their business activities that are conducted via cyberspace networking and communication as well as their cooperation with various stakeholders;
- to define strengths and weaknesses of the work of the chosen businesses;
- to compare and contrast the results of three selected companies in order to learn the tendencies and conformities that can be beneficial for the others.
In this proposed study, the qualitative methodsthat fit the best to provide a complex description and answers to the specific questions set are:
1. Data collection and analysis of documents method will be used to study the legislative and strategic documents of the countries, the external and internal papers of the firms.
2. Topic-focused and semi-structured individual interview method will be applied as a multi-disciplinary approach to interview representatives from governmental, political, business, scientific, NGO, and media sector. Most of the respondents are to be chosen directly, some will be selected by 'snow-ball' method due to the lack of the information available about specific stakeholders on-line. The analysis of each transcribed interview will follow the data reduction, data display, and the drawing of conclusions.
3. The cross-case study analysis, which compares the details of a number of cases and examines whether the variables that were important in one case are important in other cases.
The theoretical framework of the literature review is the discussions on interdependence between people interactions, cyberspace, and business activities. Methodologies employed to support this framework include the qualitative methodsthat best provide complex answers to the specific questions of this research:
- The cross-case study analysis, which compares the details of a number of cases and examines whether the variables that were important in one case are important in other cases.
- Topic-focused and semi-structured individual interviews were conducted towards the representatives from the business, scientific, and NGO sector. Most of the respondents are to be chosen directly, but some will be selected using the 'snow-ball' method.
- Data collection and analysis of documents were used to examine the existing literature on this topic, the external and internal reports and websites of the NGOs, and reports from national and international research groups and consultancies.
To maximise richness and accuracy of data as well as transferability of the findings, case study will be implemented at three different companies that conduct their business through the internet. This is an excellent method to use when endeavouring to understand the phenomenon being studied in depth. It allows the researcher to become familiar with the data in its natural setting and fully analyse the context.
At the same time, case study use should not be merely a simple illustration of an idea, but there should be irreducibility to the case that creates an affect that is not unanticipated. Despite the fact that there are some case study practices that become instrumental to proving a theory and faulty generalisation, other ideas suggest that an 'actual' case study provides a comparable and high-quality empirical research that raises 'philosophical-cum-theoretical' questions.
In this research, case studies provide a context-dependent knowledge about decision making process which can be richer than predictive mainstream theories of cyberspace communication in general. This research employs three case studies in order to compare social-cultural and corporate-specific factors in shaping corporations' business environment that employ cyberspace communication business strategies.
In this proposed study, the primary source of data collection is done through the use of semi-structured in-depth interviews. They allow the researcher to access through words to an individual's constructed reality and interpretation of his or her own experience. The interviews will be conducted with the key experts, academia, NGO, media, and business representatives of three companies. Although the interviewing process required arrangements of meetings with respondents two months in advance, there is a chance that some of the interviews may be cancelled in the last minute due to unexpected events such as sickness of managers or their sudden business trip abroad.
Semi-structured interviews will enable to raise a set of themes to discuss; they will lead to new and interesting points that were raised by the interviewee during the course of more fluid conservation. Semi-structured in-depth open-ended elite interviews provided the most enriching information about the context and the history of subject with wide-ranging dimensions.
In this research, interviewers will be asked to comment on their business activities via cyberspace communication of the chosen companies including possible legislative and management obstacles that block the prosperity of their company. The interviews will help to fill in the gaps in literature and actual practices, as well as to generate new insights into the decision-making process within those companies.
The analysis of each transcribed interview was followed by the process of data reduction, data display, and drawing of conclusions.
The phase of data reduction from the interview transcripts seeks to simplify and organise the data into much easier manageable components. The process of simplifying the data involved the use of the first-level and second-level coding approaches. The phase of data display involved mapping of the second-level categories and third-level categories on a chart into a simplified, compact form. The phase of conclusion drawing and verification seeks to note themes emerging from the analysis of each interview transcript and to identify similarities and differences emerging from the comparison across cases. It also seeks to offer propositions about emerging themes.
A comparative approach to the phases of data reduction, data display, and conclusion drawing was employed. Feedback from participants regarding emerging themes, tentative propositions, and conclusions was sought at the end of the entire collection and data analysis process. This aimed to strengthen the findings of the research. When requested, all the transcripts of the interviews will be available.
An extensive examination of company and NGO reports and websites will be done to seek clarifications on set research questions. A cross-examination of the websites' information will be also made with the aim of checking the consistency of information that was disclosed by the companies. Moreover, examining these written resources will help in corroboration of information gathered from the interviews that were conducted with the experts and company investment and environmental managers.
It is essential to remember that the fact that one interviewee can be more convincing than the other does not mean that they are telling the truth; therefore the value of flexibility of semi-structured interviews can be exacerbated by validity and reliability issues. That is why examining various company documents increases the verifiability of the interview material and provides an independent basis to check accuracy and validity of the respondent's information.
Although this research addresses how various stakeholders perceive and contribute to the development of knowledge regarding the interrelation of networking and business activities via cyberspace communication, yet it has some limitations. Despite the fact that any case study method that mainly consists of stakeholder interviews and document analysis may have an issue with a possible lack possible lack of data, this thorough research conduction will compensate all the possibilities of specification deficiency.
Research Plan and Timetable
- Literature review
- Preparation and finalising of research proposal
- Methodology review
- Data collection
- Preparation of interview questionnaires
- Obtaining and analysing official records and public documents
- Analysis of documents
- Contacting participants and arranging interviews
- Analysis of data
- Analysis of data (continued)
- Writing of the thesis
- University traineeships
- Submission of final thesis
All of the interviews of participants will meet the general procedures for interviewing, and the consent from the participants will be obtained.
Section 4: Impact
This proposed study aims to make a substantial and original contribution to knowledge about cyber-psychology. More specifically, it will give an idea of the scientific area that is now being under the gap in the literature: delineation of social processes with the regards to the cyber communication, questions to identity peculiarities and on-line behaviours of individuals while communicating with person, and business purposes are going to be explored.
Since it is planned to conduct the interviews, it is within the frames of ethical considerations to share the received results with the respondents directly. Conducting of the interviews itself promotes plenty of further communication with the respondents and further cooperation with them. Thus, the most interested people in this study will be the first who will receive the results.
This topic seems to be very simple and obvious, thus, the information is not being systematized yet. The completion of this research will provide an opportunity to organize the scientific knowledge into more categorized clusters, which will allow further deeper understanding of this topic.
On the one hand, social networks became separate virtual worlds which force people to review the ways in which they are used to interact with people. One can see that nowadays, the nuclear family is something completely different compared to a couple of decades ago. One can also observe that the community is now based mostly on the interest groups, whereas geographic space does not matter that much. It is obvious how frequently various personal interactions are conducted instead of face-to-face via the Internet.
All of the aforementioned information results in the potential that people may forget the basics of building their relationship and their own culture and create a new and unique one. All of that influences not only the identity and the interactions with other interlocutors, but it directly affects the democratic principles of the society development. This research aims to find the compromise line, so the cyberspace communication serves as an additional factor in building both personal communication and development of various business strategies.