Social activists sometimes engage in a form of workplace activism that involves using their employer organization as an unofficial platform to communicate social issue messages to external stakeholders. This type of activism follows a different logic from that of more-familiar citizen activism, in which citizens directly target society and its institutions, and that of organizational-change activism, in which employees aim to influence their employer organization. This article develops and tests theory to understand this phenomenon of organization-as-platform activism, using the National Football League “Take a Knee” employee athlete protests as an empirical context. Drawing on past research on social movements and employee activism, we offer a theoretical comparison of these three forms of activism—citizen, organizational-change, and organization-as-platform—to conceptually distinguish them and to theorize factors that uniquely predict the occurrence of platform activism. We find evidence of predictors associated with the attributes of the organizational platform and those of the intended stakeholder audience. Organization-as-platform activism is associated with the accessibility and openness of the organizational platform for messaging use, the visibility of the organizational platform for message transmission, and the receptivity of the targeted stakeholder audience. As employees increasingly bring their non-work identities and beliefs into the workplace, our findings invite new research on the outcomes of platform activism for organizations, the implications of such activism for organizational stakeholder strategy, and the relation between platform activism and employee prosocial voice.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science
- Public Administration