Purpose The purpose of this exploratory study is to investigate why and how public health agencies employed social media during coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak to foster public engagement and dialogic accounting. Design/methodology/approach The authors analysed the official Facebook pages of the leading public agencies for health crisis in Italy, United Kingdom and New Zealand and they collected data on the number of posts, popularity, commitment and followers before and during the outbreak. The authors also performed a content analysis to identify the topics covered by the posts. Findings Empirical results suggest that social media has been extensively used as a public engagement tool in all three countries under analysis but – because of legitimacy threats and resource scarcity – it has also been used as a dialogic accounting tool only in New Zealand. Findings suggest that fake news developed more extensively in contexts where the public body did not foster dialogic accounting. Practical implications Public agencies may be interested in knowing the pros and cons of using social media as a public engagement and dialogic accounting tool. They may also leverage on dialogic accounting to limit fake news. Originality/value This study is one of the first to look at the nature and role of social media as an accountability tool during public health crises. In many contexts, COVID-19 forced for the first time public health agencies to heavily engage with the public and to develop new skills, so this study paves the way for numerous future research ideas.

Public engagement and dialogic accounting through social media during COVID-19 crisis: a missed opportunity?

Stefano Landi
;
2022

Abstract

Purpose The purpose of this exploratory study is to investigate why and how public health agencies employed social media during coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak to foster public engagement and dialogic accounting. Design/methodology/approach The authors analysed the official Facebook pages of the leading public agencies for health crisis in Italy, United Kingdom and New Zealand and they collected data on the number of posts, popularity, commitment and followers before and during the outbreak. The authors also performed a content analysis to identify the topics covered by the posts. Findings Empirical results suggest that social media has been extensively used as a public engagement tool in all three countries under analysis but – because of legitimacy threats and resource scarcity – it has also been used as a dialogic accounting tool only in New Zealand. Findings suggest that fake news developed more extensively in contexts where the public body did not foster dialogic accounting. Practical implications Public agencies may be interested in knowing the pros and cons of using social media as a public engagement and dialogic accounting tool. They may also leverage on dialogic accounting to limit fake news. Originality/value This study is one of the first to look at the nature and role of social media as an accountability tool during public health crises. In many contexts, COVID-19 forced for the first time public health agencies to heavily engage with the public and to develop new skills, so this study paves the way for numerous future research ideas.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11562/1053836
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