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Q&A with CeCAR Visiting Scholar Tijs van den Broek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Assistant Professor
Faculty of Social Sciences
VU Amsterdam

 

Website

 

CeCAR Lunch Seminar

Visiting Scholar
Friday 15 March, 2019

 

What are you currently researching?
My research is about online collective action, from online protest targeting corporations to fundraising campaigns, and the social evaluation of organizations on the Internet, for example criticism or legitimacy judgments. First, I study the organization and effectiveness of slacktivism: low-threshold, symbolic protest actions on the Internet. Digital media has lowered the threshold for citizens to express their judgment about firms that transgressed societal norms. How does this lower threshold change the motivations of citizens to take symbolic action on the Internet? We answer this question by conceptualizing this lower threshold with the mental effort that social evaluators may expend on making their judgement: do they elaborate on arguments on digital media (active evaluative mode) or do they follow peripheral cues to form their judgment and decide to act (passive evaluative mode)? The experimental setting we designed is an online petition asking citizens to publicly criticize a hotel booking website. Our results show that active evaluators are more influenced by instrumental and moral judgments, while passive evaluators are more influenced by their affective response and by their identification with those suffering from the firm’s purported behavior.

Second, together with Twitter, the Movember campaign (www.movember.org) and researchers from the University of Twente (NL) and UCLA (USA), we study the boundary conditions of online healthcare fundraising. What factors increase the average amount of funds collected by national campaigns and fundraising teams within the campaigns? In a cross-national panel study, we particularly focus on the interaction between network structure and prosocial values in a country. In a team-level study, we focus on how the organizational context of fundraising teams affect the composition and motivations of team members, and hence their fundraising performance.

How will your research improve or have a wider impact on society?
My research will help firms, NGOs (such as Movember) and policy-makers to better understand the collective action that takes place on the Internet, and for example explain when online collective action is effective. I involve societal partners in my research to collect data, interpret results and disseminate my research to relevant stakeholders. For example, my research on legitimacy judgments may explain to policy-makers when and why citizens express their grievances regarding firms’ human rights violations. Ultimately, I hope my research will inspire interventions to make discussions and actions on the Internet more useful and constructive (e.g. decreasing polarization).

What do you enjoy most about your research?
Each research project is some kind of intellectual adventure or journey to me. I really like how slowly, but steadily, we can better understand the complex dynamics of collective action and social evaluation on the Internet. It is the same excitement as solving a puzzle together. Furthermore, I enjoy when I can help stakeholders with the insights from my research. I often have meetings or workshops where I present my research to practitioners.

What is the most challenging aspect of your research?
My work is interdisciplinary, which is exciting but remains challenging. How do you assure that you talk and write about the same things? Disciplines bring their own methodological traditions and even language. For example, not all computer scientists recognize the value of theory-driven research and vice versa. Hence, interdisciplinary research often requires patients and a pragmatic and open attitude.
 

You can find our full seminar schedule here.

Quote

"My research on legitimacy judgments may explain to policy-makers when and why citizens express their grievances regarding firms’ human rights violations. Ultimately, I hope my research will inspire interventions to make discussions and actions on the Internet more useful and constructive."

Selected Readings

Skriv din text härvan Den Broek, T., Langley, D., & Hornig, T. (2017). The effect of online protests and firm responses on shareholder and consumer evaluation. Journal of business ethics, 146(2), 279-294. Read online

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