The online marketing of religion : online marketing of religion: analysing social media use by online christian evangelists
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Inspired by a growing interest among scholars and practitioners concerning the promise and reality of the Internet’s ability to transform existing practices, the current study examines how evangelists actually use the Internet in their evangelism efforts. Theoretically, online evangelism is an emerging new approach to traditional evangelism. Underlying its emergence are expectations and initial evidence concerning Internet’s ability to transform certain aspects of organizations’ forms of promotions (for full detail see chapter 3). More specifically, this study engages in an abductive theory development effort with the goals of discovering the methods of online evangelism, and the factors impacting their particular configurations. In such a process analysis proceeds by a constant interplay between concepts and data, and an initial framework is successively modified as a result of surprising findings or emerging insights gained along the analytical process (for full details see section 4.2). Exploring a little known phenomenon, best characterized as a ‘moving target’, the current study adopts a qualitative research strategy, while using a multiple case study design (see chapter 2). Accordingly, 5 cases are purposefully selected to reflect churches of varying sizes (small to large). Furthermore, an international dimension is made possible due to using two countries of origin (USA and Norway), both, which scored high on international e-‐readiness rankings, while at the same time being divided by differing cultural environments. Data analysis follows the abductive discovery process, where the researcher is allowed to be loyal to ideas and concepts captured in the data collected, and avoids a force fitting of data into preconceived frameworks. Here, although an initial framework is devised, it only serves for informing data collection rather than serving as a pre-‐defined fixed template. As the evident in the current study, such openness allowed for new concepts to emerge, offering the first insights into a little explored area and allowing for development of relevant novel frameworks. The study concludes with three models, consisting of three methods of online evangelism. The different methods were found to be influenced by seven variables. The causal model emerging from this model is supplemented by a list of propositions, which can be studied in future research projects (see 5.3). Implications for further research are numerous and represent both opportunities to further develop the current study with quantitative evaluation of the concepts and relationships developed from this study, as well as new ideas and themes that emerged throughout the process. This will help fine tune the concepts and framework as well as solidify its theoretical base. Finally, the current study’s quality was assured by following the best practice criteria as suggested by various scholars with respect to both qualitative studies in general and case study research in particular. Accordingly, the current study followed practices ensuring credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability. This was achieved by using multiple sources of data, transparent and comprehensive reporting throughout the research process, and engaging in on-‐going consultation with supervisors.
Masteroppgave i økonomi og administrasjon - Universitetet i Agder 2011