Chain of Blame: A Multi-Country Study of Consumer Reactions towards Supplier Hypocrisy in Global Supply Chains
Authors: Nils Christian Hoffmann, Juelin Yin, and Stefan Hoffmann (Management International Review, 2020, Vol. 68, 247-286)
Recent research identified firms’ hypocritical behavior as a major threat to their reputation among consumers. This paper expands the dyadic relationship to a triadic relationship, integrating the hypocritical behavior of suppliers in global supply chains. Introducing a chain of blame, this paper suggests that the hypocritical behavior of the supplier backfires on the firm, leading to loss of reputation and increased boycotting tendencies. We test our proposed framework across one main study and two follow-up studies with consumers from two industrialized and two BRICS countries (Germany, US, China and South-Africa) and a total of 1177 respondents. Results show that consumers from various countries consistently hold firms responsible for their suppliers’ hypocritical behavior, consequently lower their reputation ratings, and intend to engage in boycotting the firm. The analysis further identifies the origin of the supplier and consumer ethnocentrism as nationally-variant promoting factors of consumers’ boycott intention and shows that the influence of those factors is contingent on consumers’ expectations towards foreign vs domestic firms. Implications for managers and marketing-managers are given.
Keywords: Global supply chains, Corporate hypocrisy, Corporate reputation, Boycott intention, Consumer ethnocentrism, Expectancy violations theory, international consumer behavior, international marketing, international consumer behavior