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The Pursuit of Empowerment through Social Media: Structural Social Capital Dynamics in CSR-Blogging


  • Christian Fieseler


  • Matthes Fleck



With the emergence of participative social media, the ways in which stakeholders may interact with companies are changing. Social media and Web 2.0 technologies change gatekeeping mechanisms and the distribution of information. In consequence, organizations must realize that they are structurally embedded in online networks of interconnected and equitable actors. In this paper, we analyze how this change in today’s information and communication technologies may affect Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) action. We utilize social network analysis to investigate the CSR blogs of three IT firms: Google, Hewlett-Packard, and Intel. The analysis reveals that their Internet-enabled social networks exhibit patterns of power law distribution and an uneven distribution of structural social capital among the actors involved, especially on the corporate side, which fails to fully engage with the network. We conclude by indicating the research implications of shifting social capital dynamics and by deriving implications for management and practice. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Christian Fieseler & Matthes Fleck, 2013. "The Pursuit of Empowerment through Social Media: Structural Social Capital Dynamics in CSR-Blogging," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 118(4), pages 759-775, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:118:y:2013:i:4:p:759-775
    DOI: 10.1007/s10551-013-1959-9

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Berthon, Pierre R. & Pitt, Leyland F. & Plangger, Kirk & Shapiro, Daniel, 2012. "Marketing meets Web 2.0, social media, and creative consumers: Implications for international marketing strategy," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 261-271.
    2. Christophe Van den Bulte & Yogesh V. Joshi, 2007. "New Product Diffusion with Influentials and Imitators," Marketing Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(3), pages 400-421, 05-06.
    3. Henry Farrell & Daniel Drezner, 2008. "The power and politics of blogs," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 134(1), pages 15-30, January.
    4. Stephen Chen, 2009. "Corporate Responsibilities in Internet-Enabled Social Networks," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 90(4), pages 523-536, December.
    5. Frank M. Bass, 2004. "A New Product Growth for Model Consumer Durables," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 50(12_supple), pages 1825-1832, December.
    6. Bénédicte Vidaillet & V. D'Estaintot & P. Abécassis, 2005. "Introduction," Post-Print hal-00287137, HAL.
    7. Christian Fieseler & Matthes Fleck & Miriam Meckel, 2010. "Corporate Social Responsibility in the Blogosphere," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 91(4), pages 599-614, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Itziar Castelló & Michael Etter & Finn Årup Nielsen, 2016. "Strategies of Legitimacy Through Social Media: The Networked Strategy," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 53(3), pages 402-432, May.
    2. Boyd, D. Eric & McGarry, Benjamin Michael & Clarke, Theresa B., 2016. "Exploring the empowering and paradoxical relationship between social media and CSR activism," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(8), pages 2739-2746.
    3. Jose Vila & Domingo Ribeiro-Soriano, 2014. "An overview of Web 2.0 social capital: a cross-cultural approach," Service Business, Springer;Pan-Pacific Business Association, vol. 8(3), pages 399-404, September.


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