In Organizing collective action: Does information and communication technology matter?, Cardoso, Boudreau, and Carvalho argue that the use of information communication technologies empowers and constrains the abilities of collective action organizers and that their success is dependent on certain social processes. To study this, the researchers analyzed how four specific consensus movements were structured and how they operated.
This study goes beyond the identification of generic effects to show exactly what organizing functions and requirements are affected. The findings show that the integrated use of information communication technologies is substantially empowering for organizers — with obvious benefits in terms of legitimacy and organizing costs, as well as positive effects on the ability to coordinate, communicate, and connect with participants. At the same time, their use may also constrain the organizers from connecting with some participants directly and hinder aspects related to the streamlining of collective objectives.
The first time through, this research was difficult to follow. It’s clear to me now, however, that understanding the impacts of media on organizing groups can be critical to dissecting how groupthink emerges and what causes people to organize around specific causes.