Investigating the mediating effect of Uber's sexual harassment case on its brand: Does it matter?

Published on Jul 1, 2018in Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services
· DOI :10.1016/J.JRETCONSER.2018.03.007
Denni Arli Griffith1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Griffith University),
Patrick van Esch11
Estimated H-index: 11
(Bond University),
Makayla Trittenbach1
Estimated H-index: 1
(Moravian College)
Following a barrage of serious allegations regarding a corporate culture that engendered sexual harassment, and discrimination, Uber lost a number of senior executives including its CEO. The phenomenon begs the question as to how much the scandals have affected the popular brand. The purpose of this study is to investigate consumer attitudes towards sexual harassment at Uber and the effects of anger about the scandal on Uber's brand popularity. Investigating such issues at a high profile service based organization highlights the nuances of employee and consumer attitudes and behaviors in the new technology-driven sharing economy. Participants (n = 201) were recruited through an online survey platform. Regarding factors affecting Uber's brand popularity, the findings of this study reveal that inequitable treatment by Uber negatively affects brand popularity, while consumer attachment to Uber positively affects Uber's brand popularity. Regarding the mediating effect of ‘Acceptance of Sexual Harassment at Uber’ on brand popularity, the results show that acceptance of sexual harassment only mediates the relationship between consumers’ attachment toward Uber and its brand popularity. Analysis further revealed that the sexual harassment case will not be as damaging as many people initially predicted. This study will assist managers who work in various sharing economy industries and those with devout followers, such as Uber and AirBnB, on how to recover from a scandal.
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