Don’t Mix Business with Politics? Stakeholder Reactions to Corporate Socio-Political Activism
Prof. Dr. Laura Edinger-Schons – Inhaberin des Lehrstuhls für CSR, Universität Mannheim
Despite traditional managerial wisdom to abstain from emotionally charged debates, an increasing number of corporations and corporate representatives have recently taken positions on socially divisive issues. To only name a few, Apple’s Tim Cook advocated for more LGBT rights, Dick’s Sporting Goods supported more rigorous gun control, and Joe Kaeser of Siemens condemned the anti-immigration rhetoric of a German right-wing politician. Engaging in such socio-political activism is highly risky as the issues touch salient unresolved social matters on which societal and institutional opinion is split. This makes activism a double-edged sword for companies. On the one hand, its salience in news outlets and social media promises broad public attention to the focal firm. On the other hand, the attention can be both positive and negative.
In this interactive workshop, we will discuss this ambiguity. Under which conditions should companies or their representatives take a stand? Does the context or the manner of expressing the opinion matter? During the workshop, answers to these questions will be developed and discussed both from the perspective of company representatives as well as from the perspective of society at large.