Journal Publications (* equal author contribution)
Differentiating on Diversity: How Disclosing Workforce Diversity Influences Consumer Choice
Balakrishnan, M.*, Nam, J.*, & Buell, R. (2023). Differentiating on Diversity: How Disclosing Workforce Diversity Influences Consumer Choice. Production and Operations Management, conditionally accepted.
Many companies are making efforts to diversify their workforces, motivated by documented operational performance benefits and the desire to heed increased pressure to “walk the talk” on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. One specific call-to-action from stakeholders is the public disclosure of EEO-1s. Companies with 100+ employees are federally mandated to annually report the intersectional diversity data of their workforce in the EEO-1. Through five online experiments, we examine how consumers perceive transparency into an operation's workforce diversity. We find no evidence that disclosing workforce diversity data undermines customer attitudes or behaviors toward the company, even when the disclosures reveal racial disparities across job categories. Instead, we find that consumers perceive firms that disclose their workforce diversity data to be more committed to DEI initiatives, view disclosing firms more positively, and are more likely to choose their offerings, relative to firms that choose not to disclose. We find these attitudinal and behavioral differences to be especially pronounced when the disclosures reveal progress in diversification.
Nam, J., Balakrishnan, M., De Freitas, J., Brooks, A.W. (2023). Speedy Activists: Firm Response Time to Sociopolitical Events Influences Consumer Behavior. Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming.
Organizations face growing pressure from their consumers and stakeholders to take public stances on sociopolitical issues. However, many are hesitant to do so lest they make missteps, promises they cannot keep, appear inauthentic, or alienate consumers, employees, or other stakeholders. Here we investigate consumers’ impressions of firms that respond quickly or slowly to sociopolitical events. Using data scraped from Instagram and three online experiments (N=2,452), we find that consumers express more positive sentiment and greater purchasing intentions toward firms that react more quickly to sociopolitical issues. Unlike other types of public firm decision making such as product launch, where careful deliberation can be appreciated, consumers treat firm response time to sociopolitical events as an informative cue of the firm’s authentic commitment to the issue. We identify an important boundary condition of this main effect: speedy responses bring limited benefits when the issue is highly divisive along political lines. Our findings bridge extant research on brand activism and communication, and offer practical advice for firms.
Patel, M.S., Milkman, K. L., +42 authors including Nam, J., Duckworth, A.L. (2022). A Randomized Trial of Behavioral Nudges Delivered Through Text Messages to Increase Influenza Vaccination Among Patients With an Upcoming Primary Care Visit. American Journal of Health Promotion, 37(3), 324-332.
Milkman, K. L., +42 authors including Nam, J., Duckworth, A.L. (2021). A Mega-Study of Text-Based Nudges Encouraging Patients to Get Vaccinated at an Upcoming Doctor’s Appointment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 118(20).
Manuscripts under Revision/Review
Calculated Complaints: Understanding Strategic Citations of Discrimination in Customer Service
Jimin Nam, preparing for resubmission. (Job Market Paper)
Online discourse related to discrimination, including complaints about firm actions, has surged in recent years. While consumer complaints about discriminatory behavior by firms are often rooted in reality, they may at times contain distortions from the truth (e.g., false attributions, exaggerations) regarding experiences of differential treatment based on their membership in certain social categories. Combining evidence from Twitter with five incentive-compatible, online experiments, I investigate consumer motivations behind mentioning discrimination in their complaints within the context of airline customer service. I find that consumers perceive mentions of discrimination to be effective in eliciting a firm’s response, and this view is confirmed by Twitter data on major U.S. airlines: tweets mentioning discrimination-related words elicit faster responses from airlines. This is because consumers consider complaints mentioning discrimination (e.g., “I’ve been discriminated against”) as particularly damaging to the firm’s reputation. As a result, in settings where firms are more concerned about their reputation (e.g., public channels, corresponding track records), consumers are more inclined to strategically mention discrimination in their complaints, even when it is ambiguous whether discrimination actually occurred.
The Tainted Donor Dilemma
Emily Prinsloo, Jimin Nam, & Elizabeth A. Keenan, invited for second-round review at Journal of Consumer Research.
Tainted donors (i.e., donors who have become embroiled in a social or legal scandal by means of a transgression) present a difficult tradeoff for nonprofits—balancing the need for funds against engaging with a controversial funding source. Seven studies, plus six in the web appendix, find that consumers penalize nonprofits that accept funds from tainted (versus non-tainted) donors—even though those funds support goals that consumers endorse. Consumers ascribe less moral credit and trust to these organizations and are less likely to donate to them. The effects hold in consequential donation paradigms, across low and high donation amounts, for money and goods donations, and when donors become tainted after a donation. Nonprofits are seen as hypocritical for failing to reject or return tainted donations, acting inconsistently with their implicit role of endorsing the “good,” which drives consumers’ negative reactions. Nonprofits can mitigate consumers’ negative reactions by communicating that the donation will “do good” since this highlights how keeping the donation is aligned with the nonprofits’ values. They can also return funds or redirect funds to a different nonprofit. This research demonstrates the ramifications nonprofits face when receiving funds from tainted donors and offers solutions to this marketing challenge.