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What Matters in Social Accounts? The Roles of Account Specificity, Source Expertise, and Outcome Loss on Acceptance


  • Francis M. Frey,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Business and Economics
      University of Virginia's College at Wise
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    • 1

      The authors express their appreciation to two anonymous reviewers and to the editor for their helpful comments and suggestions. The authors contributed equally to this manuscript.

  • Anthony T. Cobb

    1. Department of Management
      Virginia Tech
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Francis M. Frey, Department of Business and Economics, University of Virginia's College at Wise, 1 College Avenue, Wise, VA 24293. E-mail:


Although we know that social accounts favorably affect fairness outcomes, we still do not know what makes them work. An experimental design was used to assess the impact of message specificity, source expertise, and outcome loss on account acceptance. Also examined was how account acceptance mediates the relationship between these factors and a range of fairness outcomes. Specificity had a main effect on acceptability, but interacted with expertise across levels of loss. Expertise had a slight positive effect on acceptance under low loss conditions, but its effect turned sharply negative under conditions of higher loss. Acceptability partially mediated the relationship between specificity and all fairness outcomes, and fully mediated the impact on commitment to the trainer.