Poster Paper: Managing Social Evaluation: The Case of Planned Parenthood

Friday, November 4, 2016
Columbia Ballroom (Washington Hilton)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Jaclyn D. Petruzzelli, Syracuse University

The effectiveness of public and nonprofit organizations is a function of not only leadership and processes but also public perceptions of those organizations. Social evaluation concepts, which include legitimacy, reputation, and status, are defined as collective assessments of organizations and have been considered some of the most essential resources for achieving organizational goals. Consequently, applying Resource Dependence Theory (RDT), I expect public and nonprofit managers to attempt to establish exchange relationships with the collective of potential stakeholders in order to maintain these resources even at times when environmental factors threaten to cause a disruption in current social evaluations. This study relies on insights from interviews with managers and leaders within Planned Parenthood, as an extreme case of a public or nonprofit organization for which the threat of environmental factors interrupting the flow of current social evaluations has been witnessed numerous times in highly visible settings, to study not only whether this hypothesis from RDT holds but also to understand how organizations invest in relationships and communication to withstand these threats. Furthermore, by using text mining to apply sentiment classification and topic clustering algorithms to social media posts, this study provides a window to view, in real time, how the collective public responds to environmental factors and strategies or tactics employed by Planned Parenthood to maintain social evaluation. For this quantitative component of the case study, sentiment analysis will enable me chart how favorable or unfavorable social media posts are towards Planned Parenthood over time, and topic clustering will enable me to ascertain shifts in the content of those conversations. By employing this combination of methods, this project not only provides insights and potential tools for practitioners but also contributes to academic debates concerning the causal relationship between communication management and strategies for engaging the public and how that public responds. Furthermore, it helps to provide some conceptual clarity around distinct social evaluation concepts, which are often conflated or not consistently defined in the literature.