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Jonatan Pinske

Speaker: Professor Jonatan Pinske, Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (MIoIR), Alliance Manchester Business School


Title: Rhetorical legitimation of digital platforms: Platform rhetoric for legitimacy adjustment during norm change


Date: Wednesday 8 February 2023

Venue: 2.214

Time: 11:45 – 13:15 (GMT)


Abstract: How do digital platforms sustain legitimacy when they change the norms that form the foundation of their activities and the relationships with their users? This study investigates how a digital sharing platform implemented a virtual currency for scaling purposes and moved away from existing norms that were generally accepted by the community of users. This decision contradicted existing legitimacy assumptions and aroused controversy among users around how the platform was governed. Our analysis uncovers material-rhetorical practices which the platform used to improve argument persuasiveness, mitigate divergent evaluations of the new system, and adjust the plurality of legitimacy assumptions. The findings reveal that the platform coordinated pre-designed structures and rules of different social media spaces, leveraging cross-spatial digital materiality, to experiment with arguments, re-present community experiences and norms, and discern whether and where to intervene with novel assumptions. By capturing the evolution and resonances of the rhetoric of the platform and its users, we show how digital materiality reshapes the process of rhetorical legitimation and is consequential to how platforms govern contested relationships with digital control.

Keywords: Digital platform; sharing economy; legitimacy evaluation; digital materiality; rhetorical analysis


Biography: Jonatan Pinkse is Professor of strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship at the Manchester Institute of Innovation Research (MIoIR), Alliance Manchester Business School, The University of Manchester. His passion is innovation and sustainability. He is a regular speaker on topics related to strategy and innovation for net-zero and sustainability, business model innovation for disruption, managing the green transition, and digital platforms. In his research, Jonatan analyses how firms make strategic decisions to create a sustainable economy and deal with tensions between issues and actors. He investigates opportunities and barriers for firm adoption of disruptive and sustainable technologies from cognitive, organizational, and institutional perspectives. Jonatan has authored more than 60 scholarly and practitioner articles in journals such as the Academy of Management Review, Journal of Management Studies, Research Policy, Journal of International Business Studies, Organization Studies, California Management Review, Journal of Business Venturing and Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice. In 2020, he was included in the prestigious Highly Cited Researcher list. Before moving to Manchester, he held positions at the Universiteit van Amsterdam and Grenoble Ecole de Management. He is also deputy editor for the journal Organization & Environment and has edited numerous special issues.


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