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The influence of managers’ social networking information on job applicants

Christopher A. Ballweg (Department of Management, University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA)
William H. Ross (Department of Management, University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA)
Davide Secchi (Department of Language and Communication, University of Southern Denmark, Slagelse, Denmark)
Chad Uting (Department of Management, University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, Wisconsin, USA)

Evidence-based HRM

ISSN: 2049-3983

Article publication date: 26 November 2018

Issue publication date: 15 July 2019




The purpose of this paper is to investigate the prevalence and influence of social network website (SNW) content about alcohol use and abuse on job applicant reactions to their prospective immediate supervisor and toward applying for the job.


In Study 1, raters coded photographs and photo captions found on 1,048 personal SNWs of US managers or business owners. Approximately 22 percent of managers’ personal SNWs contained references to alcohol, providing a base rate large enough to warrant further research. In Study 2, laboratory experiment participants saw a fictitious company’s website including a professional managerial profile. A 3 × 3 factorial design then varied whether the prospective manager’s comments on his personal SNW emphasized professional activities, social drinking, or alcohol abuse; also, the manager’s friends’ comments emphasized work activities, social drinking, or alcohol abuse. A control group did not see a personal SNW.


Alcohol abuse information on personal SNWs – whether posted by the manager or by the manager’s friends – negatively affected attitudes toward the manager. Alcohol abuse information posted by the manager (but not by the manager’s friends) decreased the willingness of participants to apply for the position. These findings were consistent with the Brunswick Lens Model and the warranting hypothesis.


This is the first study to investigate managerial SNW content and it effects upon prospective job seekers’ attitudes.



The authors thank Professors Hubert S. Feild, Allan Macpherson, Chad van Iddekinge, and anonymous reviewers for comments made to earlier versions of this manuscript. The authors express their appreciation to Daniel Bohnert for providing some of the stimulus materials used in Study 2 and to Jeff Ross, Aaron Jefson and Samuel Ross for technical and clerical assistance.


Ballweg, C.A., Ross, W.H., Secchi, D. and Uting, C. (2019), "The influence of managers’ social networking information on job applicants", Evidence-based HRM, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 161-179.



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