Mobile phones use and social network development among small Malaysian retailers

Posted by LeighJaschke on Jul 01, 2009
Mobile phones use and social network development among small Malaysian retailers data sheet 1726 Views
Julsrud, Tom E.; Wong, Andrew; Roldan, Grace; Rohnes, Mette
Publication Date: 
May 2009

In much literature on social capital, it has been a widely held assertion that networks of informal relations is beneficial for the development of local regions as well as larger nations (Fukuyama 1995; Putnam 2000; Woolcock 2001). Regional areas with a well developed network of informal connections and communities are believed to produce benefits leading to increased regional competitiveness, economic growth and prosperity. The last decade mobile communication tools have rapidly saturated several emerging markets in Asia and Africa (Donner 2008; Kumar and Thomas 2006). As a tool that is mainly used to connect individuals across space and time; mobile phones appears to have qualities that can spur social capital development for private persons as well as enterprises and larger regions. In line with this, some recent studies have found support the argument that mobile phones is beneficial for regional and local development (Goodman 2007; Jensen 2007). Still, others has been more reluctant and critical towards the “network effect” coming out of mobile phone usage among small enterprises (Chowdhury 2006) and some studies has found that private ties, rather than business relations are strengthened through the implementation of mobile phones (Donner 2004).
This paper addresses the question of mobile telephony usage and local development by looking at how mobile voice dialogues and SMS (text messages on mobile phones) are used by small enterprises in Malaysia. More explicitly, the study explores the kind of relations that are supported by these tools during the work day, as well as their physical proximity and perceived importance for business development. The study is based on in-depth studies of 12 small enterprises (between 5 and 20 employees) operating within agriculture, retail and financial services in the Selangor district. The paper presents initial findings, indicating differences in mobile phone usage between the three sectors, and highlighting general trends cutting across all sectors. Methodologically the study draws on quantitative social network techniques (to map mobile calls and SMS messages during a week), as well as qualitative interviews with managers and a sample of employees in the enterprises.

SMS as Alternative Media in Elections

Posted by admin on Apr 07, 2008

As the standoff in Zimbabwe continues after the election a week ago, mobile phones are used as a vital communication tool to disseminate news and information - sometimes to the point of jamming the networks. We have previously written about how jokes are used as a way of political expression. Dumisani Ndlela, in Zimbabwe, writes about this as well, and how the networks are overloaded with both messages from abroad and with the county. She also describes the jokes circulating: