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Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 86, Issue 4, pp 541–553 | Cite as

Linking Social Issues to Organizational Impact: The Role of Infomediaries and the Infomediary Process

  • David L. Deephouse
  • Pursey P. M. A. R. Heugens
Article

Abstract

When do organizations decide to ‘adopt’ a given social issue such that they come to acknowledge it in their patterns of action and communication? Traditional answers to this question have focused either on the characteristics of the issue itself, or on the traits of the focal organization. In many cases, however, a firm’s decision to adopt or ignore an issue is not a straightforward function of firm or issue characteristics. Instead, we view issue adoption as a socially constructed process of information exchange between parties that are involved in the emergence and evolution of the issue, mediated by third-party organizations. We refer to this process as the infomediary process and these latter organizations as ‘infomediaries,’ after the information mediation and brokerage roles they play in the social processes linking social issues to organizational impact. We present a concise theoretical model of how infomediaries establish credible linkages between focal organizations and social issues. The thrust of the model is that the infomediation process, rather than the issue or firm characteristics, is what really drives firm-level issue adoption decisions.

Keywords

issues management news media stakeholder theory infomediary organizations strategic decision making social construction of reality 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • David L. Deephouse
    • 1
  • Pursey P. M. A. R. Heugens
    • 2
  1. 1.School of BusinessUniversity of AlbertaAlbertaCanada
  2. 2.Rotterdam School of ManagementErasmus UniversityRotterdamThe Netherlands

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