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Erschienen in: Journal of Business Ethics 1/2021

23.12.2019 | Original Paper

Firms Talk, Suppliers Walk: Analyzing the Locus of Greenwashing in the Blame Game and Introducing ‘Vicarious Greenwashing’

verfasst von: Marta Pizzetti, Lucia Gatti, Peter Seele

Erschienen in: Journal of Business Ethics | Ausgabe 1/2021

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Abstract

Greenwashing is a phenomenon that is linked to scandals that often occur at the supply-chain level. Nevertheless, research on this subject remains in its infancy; much more is needed to advance our understanding of stakeholders’ reactions to greenwashing. We propose here a new typology of greenwashing, based on the locus of discrepancy, i.e. the point along the supply-chain where the discrepancy between ‘responsible words’ and ‘irresponsible walks’ occurs. With three experiments, we tested how the different forms of greenwashing affect stakeholders’ reactions, from both ethical (blame attributions) and business (intention to invest) perspectives. We developed our hypotheses by building on attribution theory, which seeks to account for how observers construct perceptions about events. We had anticipated that the more internal, controllable and intentional the discrepancy is, the greater the blame attributed to a company is, and the lower the intention to invest will be. When greenwashing occurs at a company level (direct greenwashing), this results in a higher level of blame attribution, while the intention to invest falls. Indirect greenwashing refers to a misbehaviour perpetrated by a supplier who claims to be sustainable, and which results in a less negative impact on a supplied company. We also propose the vicarious greenwashing, which occurs when the behaviour of a supplier is in breach of a company’s claims of sustainability. This type of greenwashing is nevertheless detrimental to investment. The findings here advance our understanding of how greenwashing shapes stakeholders’ reactions, and highlight the need for the careful management of the supply-chain.
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Fußnoten
1
Following recommendations on the use of MTurkers, we screened participants according to their approval rate, requesting on average a minimum of a 90% approval rate (Goodman and Paolacci 2017). Participants were rewarded on average $0.50, in line with Amazon’s guidelines (Pittman and Sheehan 2016).
 
2
Palm oil is a major driver of deforestation, and its cultivation is destroying extremely biodiverse forests, especially in South Asia, thus contributing to the risk of the extinction of animals (such as orangutans) and plants (WWF 2018).
 
3
Rainforests in West Africa have reduced in size by 80% since 1960 because of the chocolate industry (The Guardian 2017).
 
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Metadaten
Titel
Firms Talk, Suppliers Walk: Analyzing the Locus of Greenwashing in the Blame Game and Introducing ‘Vicarious Greenwashing’
verfasst von
Marta Pizzetti
Lucia Gatti
Peter Seele
Publikationsdatum
23.12.2019
Verlag
Springer Netherlands
Erschienen in
Journal of Business Ethics / Ausgabe 1/2021
Print ISSN: 0167-4544
Elektronische ISSN: 1573-0697
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-019-04406-2

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