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Citizen engagement in the “post-truth era”: A knowledge management inquiry into the online spread of information

Andreia Gabriela Andrei (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, Iasi, Romania)
Adriana Zait (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, Iasi, Romania)
Claudia Stoian (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, Iasi, Romania)
Oana Tugulea (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, Iasi, Romania)
Adriana Manolica (Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, Iasi, Romania)

Kybernetes

ISSN: 0368-492X

Article publication date: 15 August 2019

Issue publication date: 30 April 2020

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to analyze citizen engagement and to explain the underlying mechanism that makes well-intended people to act as disinformation amplifiers in the online space. The study offers new insights to be used by knowledge management for improving society’s potential to downsize the impact of disinformation that puts both knowledge system and social trust (ST) under high pressure.

Design/methodology/approach

The study proposes an integrative research model to explain how ST and conspiracy mentality (CM) are influencing citizen engagement in public life through different forms of action that is specific to offline or online spaces. The research model and its nine hypotheses are tested based on a survey for data collection and partial least squares method for data analysis.

Findings

The study finds that both online and offline actions are mediating the positive effect of ST on citizen engagement. Yet, CM has a high impact on online actions, and it exerts a significant indirect influence on citizen engagement in this manner.

Originality/value

Revealing the mediator role of online actions in the relationship between CM and civic engagement, the paper brings novel insights on disinformation spreading. The study explains how citizen engagement can sometimes be turned against social well-being because those prone to belief in conspiracies are the perfect targets of deceivers seeking for disinformation amplifiers in the online environment.

Keywords

Citation

Andrei, A.G., Zait, A., Stoian, C., Tugulea, O. and Manolica, A. (2020), "Citizen engagement in the “post-truth era”: A knowledge management inquiry into the online spread of information", Kybernetes, Vol. 49 No. 5, pp. 1429-1443. https://doi.org/10.1108/K-03-2019-0178

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited