Journal of Management Information Systems

Volume 36 Number 1 2019 pp. 158-193

Power of Mobile Peer Groups: A Design-Oriented Approach to Address Youth Unemployment

Klier, Julia, Klier, Mathias, Thiel, Lea, and Agarwal, Ritu


To investigate the societal value of digital peer groups in the context of youth unemployment, one of society’s most pressing problems, we developed a novel mobile peer-group-based career counseling approach. Following a design-oriented methodology, we constructed an intervention in which we supplement offline one-on-one counseling sessions between youths and career counselors with mobile peer groups where youths can support one another in a trusting environment, independent of time and place. We evaluated the career counseling intervention, implemented on a WhatsApp platform, in a randomized field experiment conducted at the German Federal Employment Agency. Results suggest that the mobile peer-group-based career counseling approach offers substantial added value compared with traditional career counseling. It significantly increases a youth’s chances of finding employment while improving his or her attitude towards career choice, career maturity, and career search intensity. Our study contributes to literature on the societal impacts of information and communication technologies and to research in design science. The proposed mobile intervention has important policy implications for addressing youth unemployment.

Key words and phrases: : societal benefits of ICT, mobile peer group, online peer group, youth unemployment, unemployment mitigation, field experiment