Digital activism: NGOs leveraging social media to influence/challenge CSR

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Extant scholarship of corporate social responsibility (CSR) privileges a managerial perspective by situating corporations as key actors in business-society relations. Although non-profit organizations (e.g., interest/advocacy groups and NGOs) are acknowledged as influential institutional actors for CSR, they have received less attention in CSR scholarship. This is hardly surprising given the managerial bias in CSR scholarship and the unequal and often hostile relationship among corporations and NGOs. The growing influence of social media and the digitalization of communication, however, are perceived to be a ‘game-changer’ in how NGOs interact with corporations. Drawing on illustrative and contemporary cases, this chapter examines how traditionally marginalized stakeholders, specifically NGOs, are leveraging new and social media to influence change, and the attendant implications for CSR reputation. We are not suggesting that traditional forms of activism are obsolete; however, the uncensored, instantaneous, and widespread reach of new media amplify stakeholder concerns and offer unprecedented potential for collective action. The increasing importance of CSR reputations and social media give advocacy groups a new source of leverage and create opportunities to be heard and noticed by management. The chapter concludes with ethical and pragmatic implications of these social-mediated developments.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDigital Social Responsibility
EditorsA. Lindgreen, V. Joëlle, M. François, R. Watkins
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
Number of pages14
ISBN (Print)9781472484161
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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