Manuscripts under Revision/Review (* equal author contribution)

Calculated Complaints: Understanding Strategic Citations of Discrimination in Customer Service

Jimin Nam, under review at Marketing Science. (Job Market Paper)

Recently, there has been a noticeable rise of online discourse related to inequality and discrimination, including online service complaints. While there are social costs of making attributions to discrimination, consumers are engaging in complaint behavior that include distortions from the truth (e.g., false attributions, exaggerations) about a societal challenge that is of great importance to firms today: discrimination. Combining evidence from Twitter with five incentive-compatible, online experiments, I investigate consumer motivations behind mentioning discrimination in their complaints within the context of the airline industry. I find that mentions of discrimination are viewed by consumers to be more effective at eliciting a firm’s response. Twitter data on major U.S. airlines confirms this view: tweets mentioning discrimination-related words does indeed elicit a greater likelihood to receive a faster response from airlines. I demonstrate that a complaint mentioning discrimination (e.g., “I’ve been discriminated against”) is viewed by consumers as particularly damaging to the firm’s reputation. Thus, when consumers are motivated to receive a response from the firm, they strategically mention being discriminated against, even when the situation avoids any attribution of unjust treatment, and even more so when firms’ reputation concerns are heightened (e.g., positive track record, public channels).

Speedy activists: Firm response time to sociopolitical events influences consumer behavior

Jimin Nam, Maya Balakrishnan, Julian De Freitas, & Alison Wood Brooks, under third-round review at Journal of Consumer Psychology.

Organizations face growing pressure from their consumers and stakeholders to take a public stance on sociopolitical issues, yet many are hesitant to do so lest they make missteps, appear inauthentic, or alienate consumers, employees, or other stakeholders. Here we investigate how firms take such stances by asking: What are consumers’ impressions of firms that respond quickly (vs. slowly) to sociopolitical events? Using data from Instagram and three online experiments, we find that consumers express more positive sentiment and greater purchasing intentions toward firms that react speedily to sociopolitical issues because they treat response time as an informative cue of whether a firm truly, authentically supports the sociopolitical issue. At the same time, we identify an important boundary condition: speedy responses bring limited benefits when the issue is highly divisive along political lines. These findings bridge literatures on brand activism and communication and offer practical insights for firms looking to engage in sociopolitical activism online.

Differentiating on Diversity: How Disclosing Workforce Diversity Influences Consumer Choice

Maya Balakrishnan*,  Jimin Nam*, & Ryan Buell, under second-round review at Production and Operations Management.

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.

The Tainted Donor Dilemma 

Emily Prinsloo, Jimin Nam, & Elizabeth A. Keenan, invited for revision 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.

Journal Publications

A Randomized Trial of Behavioral Nudges Delivered Through Text Messages to Increase Influenza Vaccination Among Patients With an Upcoming Primary Care Visit

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.

A Megastudy of Text-Based Nudges Encouraging Patients to Get Vaccinated at an Upcoming Doctor's Appointment 

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).