Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


College of Mass Communications and Information Studies

First Advisor

Shannon A. Bowen


Drawing on literature from public relations, marketing, interpersonal communication, and organizational communication, this dissertation focused on the effects of authenticity on relationship management outcomes in nonprofit organizations’ social media efforts. There is significant need for relationship management rooted in authenticity with the rise in inauthentic communication online. This dissertation aims to contribute to relationship management theory by highlighting the role of control mutuality in analyses of authenticity in organization-public relationships in social media for nonprofit organizations like local animal welfare organizations. This dissertation proposes that control mutuality is an ethical outcome of authentic relationship management. This dissertation also proposes that control mutuality will be heightened when the three components of authenticity (transparency, veracity, and genuineness) are used in relationship management by local animal welfare organizations with their donors.

Using an online survey (n = 1,076) of donors in five regional animal welfare organizations, this dissertation revealed that genuineness and veracity were the most significant ethical variables of authenticity for donors in their evaluations of their local animal welfare organizations. Control mutuality was positively associated with social media engagement. Perhaps most importantly, control mutuality was also the only relationship variable to mediate the relationship between ethical variables of authenticity and social media engagement. Theoretical and practical implications for relationship management on social media platforms are offered.


© 2015, Diana Catherine Sisson