Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Sharon Timberlake PhD

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Goryunova PhD

Third Advisor

Dan Jenkins PhD

Keywords

social capital, Facebook likes, Facebook followers, Facebook leadership status, Facebook credibility, Facebook leadership, social media leadership, Leadership and Organizational Studies

Abstract

The online social network, Facebook, creates a problem in which "likes", and followers give a user the appearance of leadership. The accumulation of likes in the online social network environment, such as Facebook, might offer non-legitimate leader status, similar to campaign donations contributing to the appeal of a political candidate. This appearance of Facebook popularity through likes possibly skews the other members' perspective regarding a user's leadership competence. The user often looks official, popular, and influential through the advent of likes and followers. Any opinions of a user with accumulated likes could be taken with greater weight than a user with significantly fewer likes and followers. The objective of this study finds if the accumulation of likes and followers on Facebook leads to perceived user leadership status. The data includes a Facebook user questionnaire survey and subsequent data analysis. This qualitative study may provide a useful expansion of our traditional definition of leadership. The expansion could enhance academic and leadership studies courses with a greater understanding of online social capital.

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