Journal of Business Ethics 86 (4):541-553 (2009)

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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DOI 10.1007/s10551-008-9864-3
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