Sub-theme 05: [SWG] Digitalization of Social Evaluations – Social Media, Platforms, and their Evaluative Roles

Mike Barnett
Rutgers University, USA
Michael Etter
King’s College London, United Kingdom
Anastasiya Zavyalova
Rice University, USA

Call for Papers

Media is a crucial stakeholder audience when it comes to evaluating social actors (Zavyalova et al., 2018). However, the rise of social media and digital platforms is radically changing the landscape of how actors are evaluated, and as a result the consequences of social evaluations (Etter et al., 2019; Orlikowski & Scott, 2014). Such change in the structure of this key audience and infomediary affects the very nature of social evaluations and the process of their formation (Graf-Vlachy et al., 2019; Ravasi et al., 2018). Most of the existing research on media and social evaluations is based on traditional media sources – focusing in particular on newspapers (Vergne, 2012; Zavyalova et al., 2012). More work is needed to revise our current assumptions and update them to consider the characteristics of this new media landscape.
Compared to traditional media, social media, and digital media more generally, are more heterogenous and represent a wider diversity of often disjointed audiences (Roulet & Clemente, 2018); and their content is not only diffused and made visible by humans but also non-human actors, such as algorithms (Orlikowski & Scott, 2014). This increased complexity raises the question of how individual opinions aggregate to generate a consensus around the evaluation of a social actor (Zavyalova et al., 2021). On social media, audiences play a more active role, being simultaneously the producers and consumers of evaluations (Etter et al., 2019). This affects the pattern of diffusion of evaluations, especially as emotionally charged content is more likely to be shared (Veil et al., 2012). In this context, network structures between consumers and producers of information disseminated by the media are even more crucial (Castello et al., 2016).
The rise of social media also offers a number of new sources of data and novel methodological approaches on the quantitative (Etter et al., 2018; Hannigan et al., 2019) and qualitative side (Snelson, 2016). Social media thus offer both opportunities and challenges for social evaluations research and its linkages with social control (Barnett, Henriques & Husted, 2020).

  • How do social evaluations emerge, persist and change on social media and digital platforms by contrast with traditional media?

  • How do evaluative behaviors on digital platforms differ? How are they conditioned, enabled, or constrained by the crowds?

  • What are the effects of anonymity on social evaluations in social media settings?

  • How are evaluations consumed online (i.e., who is actually exposed to those evaluations and how does it affect those stakeholders)?

  • Are the consequences of social media evaluations more or less important than those of traditional media?

  • What is the role of algorithms for the construction of social evaluations online?



  • Barnett, M., Henriques, I., & Husted, B. (2020): “The rise and stall of stakeholder influence: How the digital age limits social control.” Academy of Management Perspectives, 34 (1), 48–64.
  • Castelló, I., Etter, M., & Årup Nielsen, F. (2016): “Strategies of Legitimacy Through Social Media: The Networked Strategy.” Journal of Management Studies, 53, 402–432.
  • Etter, M., Colleoni, E., Illia, L., Meggiorin, K., & D’Eugenio, A. (2018): “Measuring organizational legitimacy in social media: Assessing citizens’ judgments with sentiment analysis.” Business & Society, 57 (1), 60–97.
  • Etter, M., Ravasi, D., Colleoni, E. (2019): “Social media and the formation of organizational reputation.” Academy of Management Review, 44 (1), 28–52.
  • Graf-Vlachy, L., Oliver, A.G., Banfield, R., König, A., & Bundy, J. (2020): “Media Coverage of Firms: Background, Integration, and Directions for Future Research.” Journal of Management, 46 (1), 36–69.
    Hannigan, T., Haans, R.F.J., Vakili, K., Tchalian, H., Glaser, V., Wang, M., Kaplan, S., & Jennings, P.D. (2019): “Topic modeling in management research: Rendering new theory from textual data.” Academy of Management Annals, 13 (2), 586–632.
  • Orlikowski, W.J., & Scott, S.V. (2014): “What happens when evaluation goes online? Exploring apparatuses of valuation in the travel sector.” Organization Science, 25 (3), 868–891.
  • Ravasi, D., Rindova, V., Etter, M., & Cornelissen, J. (2018): “The formation of organizational reputation.” Academy of Management Annals, 12 (2), 574–599.
  • Roulet, T.J., & Clemente, M. (2018): “Let’s open the media’s black box: The media as a set of heterogeneous actors and not only as a homogenous ensemble.” Academy of Management Review, 43 (2), 327–329.
  • Snelson, C.L. (2016): “Qualitative and mixed methods social media research: A review of the literature.” International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 15(1), first published online on March 1, 2016,
  • Veil, S.R., Sellnow, T.L., & Petrun, E.L. (2012): “Hoaxes and the paradoxical challenges of restoring legitimacy Dominos’ response to its YouTube crisis.” Management Communication Quarterly, 26, 322–345.
  • Vergne, J.P. (2012): “Stigmatized categories and public disapproval of organizations: A mixed-methods study of the global arms industry, 1996–2007.” Academy of Management Journal, 55 (5), 1027–1052.
  • Zavyalova, A., Pfarrer, M.D., Reger, R.K., & Shapiro, D.L. (2012): “Managing the message: The effects of firm actions and industry spillovers on media coverage following wrongdoing. “Academy of Management Journal, 55 (5), 1079–1101.
  • Zavyalova, A., Pfarrer, M.D., & Reger, R.K. (2018): “Opening the black box of celebrity and infamy: Constituents as active consumers of media content.” Academy of Management Review, 43 (2), 330–332.
  • Zavyalova, A., Bundy, J,. & Humphrey, S.E. (2021): “A Relational Theory of Reputational Stability and Change.” Organization Science, first published online on September 16, 2021,
Mike Barnett is Professor of Management at Rutgers Business School, Rutgers University. His work is at the business and society interface and has been published in many journals, some of which would impress you and others, meh. He holds all the requisite academic credentials, to boot.
Michael Etter is a Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Digitization at King’s Business School, King’s College London, UK. His work focuses on communication, evaluation and reputation, in particular on social media, and it has been published in the ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘Academy of Management Annals’, ‘Journal of Management Studies’, and ‘Business & Society’.
Anastasiya Zavyalova is an Associate Professor of Strategic Management at the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business, Rice University, USA. Her research focuses on socially responsible and irresponsible organizational actions that build, damage, and restore social approval assets, such as reputation and celebrity. Anastasiya’s work has been published in the ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Academy of Management Review’, ‘Organization Science’, and ‘Strategic Management Journal’.