Impacts of reputation for quality on perceptions of company responsibility and product-related dangers in times of product-recall and public complaints crises: Results from an empirical investigation
|crisis management; negative publicity; product-harm crisis; product-recalls; public complaints; quality reputation
|Corporate Reputation Review
This research paper analyzes the role of pre-crisis reputation for quality on consumers perceptions of product-related dangers and company responsibility in product-harm crises with varying risk information. We consider (non-) substantiated public complaints incorporating low and moderate product-related risks, as well as product-recall situations involving serious risks to the health and safety of consumers. Hypotheses are derived from theories and concepts of consumer behavioural psychology. These are then tested empirically by using an online experiment. The effects of reputation are analyzed across different crises contexts to derive some general insights useful for crisis management. In order to shed light on situational differences of the reputation mechanism its effect on individual crisis level will also be considered. In general, the analysis finds that reputation for quality is capable of positively influencing the perceptions of company responsibility and thereby shielding the manufacturer from receiving blame. However, an established reputation for high product quality prior to the crisis fails to positively impacting consumers perceptions of problem severity. The crisis-specific effects of reputation turn out to be ambivalent. On the basis of these findings, recommendations to crisis managers and relevant avenues for future research are derived. © 2010 Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
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