Researching and Writing

ENGAGING IN SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE AND ACTIVIST BEHAVIOR

My academic research focuses primarily on Corporate Social Responsibility, Activism, and Sustainability. 

Specific topics that I currently work on within these areas examine brand and consumer activism, managing crises, and marketplace inclusion and safety.

My research has been published in the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, Journal of Business Ethics, among others. A list of all my published projects is available on my Google Scholar profile.

Below, I'm featuring some of my recent work. Please contact me if you would like access to any of these projects or talk about the research!

 

THE ACTIVIST COMPANY: EXAMINING A COMPANY’S PURSUIT OF SOCIETAL CHANGE THROUGH CORPORATE ACTIVISM USING AN INSTITUTIONAL THEORETICAL LENS

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Meike Eilert, Abigail Nappier Cherup

Journal of Public Policy & Marketing

Companies are more frequently taking public stands on often controversial social, political, economic, and environmental issues. Despite the importance of the topic, research on understanding the role of companies in societal change through activism is scarce. Using institutional theory, this article defines corporate activism as a company’s willingness to take a stand on social, political, economic, and environmental issues to create societal change by influencing the attitudes and behaviors of actors in its institutional environment. This framework conceptualizes corporate activism as a response to barriers that hinder the solution of an issue. These barriers stem from institutional actors’ attitudes and behaviors toward the issue, and corporate activism can address these barriers through influence and change strategies that can target the institutional environment “top-down” or “bottom-up.” This framework further investigates how the identity orientation of the company facilitates corporate activism. This research has important implications for managers, policy makers, and any other agents that aim to facilitate social change.

RISE UP: UNDERSTANDING YOUTH SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS AND THEIR ECOSYSTEMS

Volunteers

Melissa G. Bublitz, Lan Nguyen Chaplin, Laura A. Peracchio, Ashley Deutsch Cermin, Mentor Dida, Jennifer Edson Escalas, Meike Eilert, Alexei Gloukhovtsev, Elizabeth G. Miller

Journal of Public Policy & Marketing

This research focuses on youth social entrepreneurs who are leading ventures that address pressing societal problems including climate change, gun reform, and social justice. It answers Journal of Public Policy & Marketing’s call for more research in marketing on social entrepreneurship. Consistent with the mission of Transformative Consumer Research to enhance individual and societal well-being, this research explores how the dynamic ecosystem of youth social entrepreneurs empowers them to rise up to transform people, communities, and the future for the better. The authors partnered with 20 established youth social entrepreneurs who have founded social impact initiatives as well as two organizations that support youth social entrepreneurs, Ashoka and Future Coalition, to develop a framework for understanding the ecosystem that encourages youth social entrepreneurs to enhance people’s well-being and make the world a better place. This framework integrates the experiences of these youth social entrepreneur partners and extant literature in marketing and related disciplines to provide guidance that can help researchers, policy makers, educators, and parents design an environment to support the success of youth social entrepreneurs.

HOW DEVIATIONS FROM PERFORMANCE NORMS IMPACT CHARITABLE DONATIONS

Donation Jar

Alexis M. Allen, Meike Eilert, John Peloza

Journal of Marketing Research

Although the actions of others can influence a consumer's behavior, these actions are often at odds with performance norms. For example, charities can experience relatively low rates of support (resulting in a negative deviation from a performance norm) or relatively high rates of support (resulting in a positive deviation from a performance norm). Previous research provides evidence of the equivocal effects of these deviations, with both positive and negative deviations motivating prosocial behaviors. The current research reconciles these competing findings by introducing construal as a moderator. Across four studies, the authors find that positive deviations from performance norms motivate prosocial behavior for independent donors, whereas negative deviations from performance norms motivate prosocial behavior for interdependent donors. They further show that these effects are driven by a prevention focus associated with interdependent consumers and a promotion focus associated with independent consumers. The article concludes with implications for the marketing of charities and prosocial behaviors.

"NATURAL" NEW PRODUCTS AND BRAND DISTRIBUTION

Grocery Shopping

Mitchell C. Olsen, Frank Germann, Meike Eilert

Marketing Science Institute Working Paper Series

Grocery retailers are investing in "natural" product offerings to compete for shoppers. At the same time, many brands' new product offerings claim to be "natural." Such new products appear to be congruent with retail customers' goals. However, the term "natural" is not regulated by any U.S. government agency. Uncertainty remains regarding what "natural" implies to the marketplace and the value it brings to interorganizational exchange between brands and their retail customers. We investigate these issues with a multimethod approach involving in-depth qualitative interviews with 30 managers possessing extensive category management experience, secondary data compiled from 628 brands' new product introductions across 18 consumer packaged goods categories over 11 years, and primary data from a survey-based experiment collected from 101 managers involved with category management.
Results indicate the extent to which a brand is using retailer shelf space productively can determine whether the relationship between a brand's "natural" new product introductions and brand distribution is positive or negative. Category managers find the term "natural" is difficult to evaluate - especially in non-food categories. They navigate this uncertainty by turning to brands' "shelf space productivity" (i.e. the brand's category sales contribution relative to its share of in-store shelf space) as a critical decision-making heuristic. If a non-food brand isusing its shelf space productively, it is in position to gain access to greater overall distribution by focusing on "natural" new products. However, if a non-food brand is underutilizing its shelf space, category managers perceive the brand's focus on "natural" new products as more opportunistic, which lowers their trust in the brand's use of the claim. This distrust ultimately results in a larger withdrawal of the brand's access to retailers' distribution resources than had the brand focused more on non-"natural" new products.
These results suggest non-food brand managers should proceed with caution when considering whether their new products will focus on "natural" (vs. non-"natural") offerings. It may seem "natural" products can only help -- 0r at least not hurt-brand distribution. However, we find "natural" claims can be detrimental to distribution if the brand underutilizes its in-store shelf space. It is difficult for brands to escape downward performance spirals, and emphasizing "natural" claims seems to accelerate the descent for unproductive non-food brands.
As part of our analyses, we also propose, validate, and use a novel and straightforward measure that category managers and brand managers will find useful for estimating brand shelf space and shelf space productivity.

DOES IT PAY TO RECALL YOUR PRODUCT EARLY? AN EMPIRICAL INVESTIGATION IN THE AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY

Image by Nabeel Syed

Meike Eilert, Satish Jayachandran, Kartik Kalaignanam, Tracey A. Swartz

Journal of Marketing

Defective products are often recalled to limit harm to consumers and damage to the firm. However, little is known about why the timing of product recalls varies after an investigation is opened. Likewise, there is little evidence on whether recall timing affects stock markets. This study tests the effect of problem severity on time to recall, the role of brand characteristics in moderating this relationship, and the stock market impact of time to recall. The authors test the hypotheses on a sample of 381 recall investigations in the automobile industry between 1999 and 2012. The results show that although problem severity increases time to recall, this relationship is weaker when the brand under investigation (1) has a strong reputation for reliability and (2) has experienced severe recalls in the recent past. However, the relationship between problem severity and time to recall is stronger when the brand is diverse. Importantly, the results reveal that stock markets punish recall delays. The study suggests that time to recall has significant implications for managers and policy makers.