Gregory D. Saxton, Charlotte R. Ren and Chao Guo
Abstract. Social media offers a platform for diffused stakeholders to interact with firms—alternatively praising, questioning, and chastising businesses for their CSR performance and seeking to engage in two-way dialogue. In 2014, 163,402 public messages were sent to Fortune 200 firms’ CSR-focused Twitter accounts, each of which was either shared, replied to, “liked,” or ignored by the targeted firm. This paper examines firm reactions to these messages, building a model of firm response to stakeholders that combines the notions of CSR communication and stakeholder salience. Our findings show that firm response to a stakeholder on social media is positively and most significantly associated with what we refer to as the stakeholder’s connective power but negatively associated with the firm’s own connective power. To a lesser extent, firm response is positively associated with the stakeholder’s normative power but negatively associated with the firm’s own normative power. Firm response is also shown to be positively associated with stakeholder urgency in terms of both the originality of a stakeholder message and the expression of positive sentiment.
Journal of Business Ethics. 2021, 172: 229–252.