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Inclusive and Exclusive Organizational Identity and Leadership Online: The Case of the Anti-GMO Movement

Social Movements and Media

ISBN: 978-1-78743-098-3, eISBN: 978-1-78743-097-6

Publication date: 22 December 2017


This chapter expands the limited work on leadership in the digital age and considers how the relative inclusivity of organizational identity as well as its corresponding organizational scripts affects who performs “leading tasks,” formal leaders or committed supporters, in two social movement groups. Drawing on a random sample of 5% of Facebook posts from committed supporters and 1% of Facebook posts from group administrators associated with March Against Monsanto (MAM) and Occupy Monsanto (OM), two groups that have shared general goals but different organizational identities, we find that the clarity of an organization’s script shapes who performs leading tasks and how they perform them. MAM, which has an exclusive organizational identity and relatively defined script, encouraged supporters to engage with one another directly and perform a broad range of leading tasks even as it reinforced the group’s hierarchy. OM, which has an inclusive organization identity and relatively undefined script, had less supporter engagement. Absent scripts regarding the rules of participation, OM’s committed supporter primarily shared information with other site users, but rarely engaged them directly. We conclude with a discussion of our results and outline additional avenues for analyzing leadership in the digital age.



Rohlinger, D.A. and Gaulden, S. (2017), "Inclusive and Exclusive Organizational Identity and Leadership Online: The Case of the Anti-GMO Movement", Earl, J. and Rohlinger, D.A. (Ed.) Social Movements and Media (Studies in Media and Communications, Vol. 14), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 177-207.



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