Facebook as a tool for supporting dialogic accounting? Evidence from large philanthropic foundations in the United States

Marco Bellucci (Department of Economics and Management, University of Florence, Florence, Italy)
Giacomo Manetti (Department of Economics and Management, University of Florence, Florence, Italy)

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

ISSN: 0951-3574

Publication date: 15 May 2017



The purpose of this paper is to explore the utilization of the social network, Facebook, as an instrument of stakeholder engagement and dialogic accounting in American charitable foundations, specifically non-profit organizations that are dedicated to philanthropy.


The research motivation involves whether online interaction through Facebook could represent a channel of dialogic accounting that engages organizational stakeholders. This paper aims to understand if this dialogue is geared to generate a consensus necessary to deliberate over decisions that are shared between all stakeholders, or if a divergent and agonistic perspective, which highlights struggles and differences between actors, prevails. The present study employs a form of content analysis that takes into account the Facebook pages of the 100 largest American philanthropic foundations.


The primary goal of the analysis is to examine the discrepancies in terms of how (and how much) large organizations are using Facebook. The study wants to provide more details on which kind of information large organizations are willing to disclose and collect on Facebook, and to evaluate the level and type of interaction between foundations and users.

Research limitations/implications

Further research could build on the present study by providing in-depth case studies and extending the analysis to other social media and other types of organizations.


Social media represent a powerful mechanism to engage stakeholders in a polylogic conversation. However, the scholarly literature confirms that further studies are necessary to understand how companies and organization can exploit this potential.



The authors would like to thank the team of junior researchers that performed data collection and data entry for this study, especially Dario Fabrizi, Francesca Mariani, and Noemi Stella. The authors gratefully acknowledge the valuable feedback from AAAJ editorial team and blind reviewers. Although the paper is the result of a team effort, Marco Bellucci can be considered the author of Sections 4 and 5, and Giacomo Manetti the author of Sections 1, 2, and 3; Section 6 has been written by both authors.

This paper forms part of the Accounting, Accountability, Social Media and Big Data: Revolution or Hype? Special issue.


Bellucci, M. and Manetti, G. (2017), "Facebook as a tool for supporting dialogic accounting? Evidence from large philanthropic foundations in the United States", Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 30 No. 4, pp. 874-905. https://doi.org/10.1108/AAAJ-07-2015-2122

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