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Establishing group norms through wiki technologies within a health-care setting: a case study


Within rapidly changing environments in today's health care organizations, new technologies are sought to bridge gaps in processes, create connections between people, and facilitate workplace efficiencies. This study, anchored in diffusion of innovation theory, examined how one new technology is being utilized and diffused in a medium sized, multi-hospital health care system. Wiki technology allows multiple users opportunities to asynchronously collaborate and communicate through a web (internet) based application. Although potential benefits of this technology are exciting, the diffusion of this technology within a complex system is still a relatively unknown process. This case study examined how actors, or users, of three wikis perceived the establishment of group norms and rules that helped govern use of the wiki and diffusion of the technology to other members. Perception was measured through the distribution of an online questionnaire, interviews with the wiki administrators, and examination of wiki content. It was determined that group norms were ultimately helpful as new members learned how to use the wiki. In addition to wiki specific norms, this study determined group norms were perceived to be established at a higher organizational level than the wikis themselves; meaning, organization norms and rules strongly influenced how wiki specific norms and rules were determined. This study highlights the importance of strong organizational culture as it relates to members trying and adopting new, web-based technologies.


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