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School of Business and Management

A Consumer Perspective on Managing the Consequences of Chain Liability

When: Wednesday, November 3, 2021, 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Where: Online, Zoom

The Business Ecosystems Research Group / Marketing Interactions & Consumer Behaviour Group Research Seminar will take place on Wednesday 11th November, from 1pm-2pm, via Zoom.


Consumers tend to hold a focal firm responsible for its suppliers’ unsustainable practices (chain liability), suggesting that firms need effective responses that can mitigate negative consumer reactions. In applying psychological contract theory to investigate recovery efforts related to such chain liability, the current study addresses three broad focal firm responses: do nothing, choose a nonsubstantive response that verbally clarifies its own and the supplier’s roles in the incident, or substantively rectify the supplier’s wrongdoing with sustainability-focused responses, such as termination, monitoring, or development. With a vignette-based experiment, we examine consumer perceptions and behaviors in three stages: before the unsustainable supplier incident (pre-incident), after the incident (post-incident), and after the focal firm has responded (post-response). A nonsubstantive, clarification response decreases consumers’ purchase intentions; substantive focal firm activities increase purchase intentions, though not fully back to pre-incident levels. For consumers, termination, monitoring, and development seem like equally adequate responses. Although combining several substantive responses offers even greater effectiveness for recovering purchase intentions, it still falls short of reaching pre-incident levels. Thus, our findings demonstrate the focal firm’s capacity to address suppliers’ unsustainable practices substantively and recover, at least partially, its damaged relationship with consumers. 

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