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This project page contains the data files, measures, analysis code, and supplementary materials for
Guckian et al., 2017, Journal of Consumer Behavior.
Guckian ML, Chapman DA, Lickel B, Markowitz EM. “A few bad apples” or “rotten to the core”: Perceptions
of corporate culture drive brand engagement after corporate scandal. J Consumer Behav. 2017;1–13.
Abstract: Following unethical corporate behavior, consumers face decisions on how to engage with brands
in the future. Consumers' beliefs about the underlying causes of a corporate scandal may influence
future patronage intentions, for example, by influencing perceived likelihood of future
wrongdoing. We investigated how beliefs about corporate culture and consumer proximity to
the recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal influence expectations of future ethical action
by Volkswagen Group (VW), feelings of anger, and future brand engagement. Results indicate
that beliefs about corporate culture and proximity each independently influence future brand
engagement. Specifically, owners who believed “a few bad apples” (rather than a “rotten” corporate
culture) caused the scandal reported higher expectations of future ethical action by VW, less
anger, and more positive intentions to engage with VW in the future. Those more proximately
affected by the scandal, that is, turbocharged direct injection owners, were more likely to be
angry and less likely to engage with VW. Expectation of future ethical action and anger mediated
the effects of corporate culture on engagement, whereas only anger mediated the effects of
proximity. This small set of factors accounted for over half of the observed variance in future
brand engagement intentions, highlighting the importance of understanding consumer responses
to corporate scandal.