Date of this Version
Administrative Science Quarterly
In this paper, we show that corporate targets' responses to social movements are a function of impression management to counteract perceived image threats created by movement tactics. An image threat occurs when an organization‟s audiences or reference publics are given reason to doubt its reliability or claimed conformity to socially acceptable behaviors, norms and values. We examine organizational responses to image threats created by social movement boycotts. Consumer boycotts, while ostensibly trying to cause a decline in a firm's sales revenue and force them to change a policy or practice, have a pronounced negative impact on their targets' public images. Boycotts may elicit increased efforts by the firm to engage in positive impression management and to reinforce positive audience perceptions. We argue that firms frequently use corporate social actions as part of their image repertoire when dealing with the threat of boycotts. Corporate social actions are especially likely to be used by firms that have built their reputation around being a "virtuous” company. We draw on social movement theory and organizational theory to predict the conditions in which firms will respond to boycotts with increased levels of social action. We use a dataset of boycotts that were reported in major national newspapers from 1990 to 2005 to test our hypotheses.
McDonnell, M. & King, B., Keeping Up Appearances: Reputational Threat and Impression Management after Social Movement Boycotts, Administrative Science Quarterly 58, no. 3: pp. 387-419. Copyright © 2013 SC Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.
This is a pre-publication version. the final version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0001839213500032
social movements, boycotts, media attention, impression management, prosocial claims, threat amplification, nonmarket strategies
McDonnell, M., & King, B. G. (2013). Keeping Up Appearances: Reputational Threat and Impression Management after Social Movement Boycotts. Administrative Science Quarterly, 58 (3), 387-419. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0001839213500032
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Date Posted: 25 October 2018
This document has been peer reviewed.