Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis & Resolution


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Conflict Resolution Studies

First Advisor

Robin Cooper

Second Advisor

Ismael Muvingi

Third Advisor

Urszula Strawinska-Zanko


Digital Footprint, Grounded Theory Research, Hiring Decisions, Human Resource, Social Media, Unconscious Bias


For over a decade, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has reported the increasing practice of hiring managers accessing social media profiles to screen job applicants (Bates, 2008). This qualitative research study investigated the role of social media in organizational hiring practices and what factors may influence human resource hiring managers’ decisions. A grounded theory methodology was applied to interview 21 human resource hiring managers with open-ended structured questions. Based on the researcher’s data collection and grounded theory data analysis, the findings showed that social media profiles play a crucial role in organizational hiring decisions when a human resource hiring manager reviews an applicant’s social media. The findings of the study resulted in the digital footprint effect theory. Whether an organization has a formal policy in place or not, the majority of participants confirmed they habitually review applicants’ social media profiles to make hiring decisions. The study contributes to research on organizational conflicts and multidisciplinary studies by providing recommendations and suggestions for hiring practices. Lastly, the study's findings also confirmed and supported several of the most common biases that tend to influence hiring decisions: affinity bias, the horns effect, gender bias, ageism, and name bias.