University of Twente Student Theses


Promoting Practices: How Activists Employ Online Tactics to Promote Energy Efficiency. A Social Movement Perspective on Institutional Innovation

Renkema, Maarten (2014) Promoting Practices: How Activists Employ Online Tactics to Promote Energy Efficiency. A Social Movement Perspective on Institutional Innovation.

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Abstract:Social movements have influence on innovation, the creation of new markets, and institutional change. Research into the field of social movements is important for organizational scholars because social movements aim for organizational and institutional change and are able to stimulate or hamper innovations. Social movements use different methods to achieve change in the markets; by opposing existing norms and by promoting new norms. However, the majority of existing research neglects the latter process and therefore in this study the ways in which a social movement organization (SMO) attempts to set a new norm are investigated. To gather attention and support for their cause, SMOs develop media strategies. Moreover, SMOs increasingly make use of the Internet to support their cause. Researchers have started to study the use of online means in action campaigns, but the knowledge about how online means are used for promoting a new norm is limited. Therefore this research combines institutional and social movement theory to explore the question how SMOs use online tactics to promote new institutional norms. In this thesis the tasks that are necessary to affirm new norms and achieve institutional change and the online tactics that are used to execute these activities are identified. The literature on social movements, institutional change and online activism is combined in order to develop a conceptual framework to investigate how the activities and online tactics are used to organize an action campaign. A retrospective case study at a SMO in the Dutch environmental movement is conducted to empirically explore the use of online tactics and describe the process of an online action campaign using the conceptual framework. A process approach is adopted to analyze the development of an online campaign and therefore semi-structures interviews, archival data and online statistics are used to gather data on events during the campaign. Subsequently, different data analysis techniques are applied to make sense of the raw data. After the identification of key events, a campaign narrative was used in combination with temporal bracketing and visual mapping to understand the data. Thereafter, quantification is used to analyze the key events and social media data. The findings provide insights into how the SMO uses online collective action tactics, and illustrate how framing processes and mobilizing structures are digitally equipped to engage participants and market parties to promote a new institution. Furthermore, the empirical evidence shows how pragmatic arguments and incentive structures are important to gather support from the audience for an abstract cause such as climate change. The findings stress the strategic importance of choosing tactics for institutional change. Moreover, the case highlights the importance of tactics for mass participation in order to persuade and motivate both consumers and businesses to adapt their attitude towards sustainability. This study contributes to the management knowledge by showing how a SMO operates and what role companies play in an action campaign. Firms should adopt a strategy in case they are targeted by such an organization. Moreover, this study highlights the possibility for firms to collaborate with SMOs in order to improve their reputation and gain access to potential customers. These findings are also of interest to the management of SMOs or social entrepreneurs that are considering using online tactics in their action campaigns as the results shows that SMOs can effectively use online tactics for framing purposes, for mobilizing structures, and collective actions.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:70 social sciences in general, 85 business administration, organizational science, 88 social and public administration
Programme:Business Administration MSc (60644)
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