In recent years, there have been several high-profile recalls of hybrid products (those where organizations in multiple countries take part in the design, component sourcing, manufacturing, and marketing of a product). If consumers perceive a global firm to be responsible for the recall, then it will reduce their brand equity. Therefore, global firms may respond in ethically questionable ways to justify themselves to important stakeholders and avoid blame. Understanding how stakeholders attribute blame for crises involving hybrid products is important to shed light on the unethical manner in which global firms might avoid blame in such situations. The research reported here shows that in a hybrid product crisis, consumers show a bias in favor of the brand company and against the manufacturing company. This bias is more pronounced when the country of manufacture has an unfavorable image or when consumers lack familiarity with the recalled brand. Ambiguous recall announcements by companies that fail to provide a specific and clear reason for the product defect prompt consumers to assume that a manufacturing flaw caused the product defect. As a result, consumers reduce their attribution of blame for the brand company, and thus its brand equity is maintained.
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This research was supported in part by a grant to Sergio W. Carvalho and Hari Bapuji from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Dell Inc. Batteries Recall Affects Some Canadian Students
The division of laptop batteries of Dell Computer Corporation (Dell Inc.) has recently announced a recall of a wide variety of batteries used in different brands of laptop computers such as Acer, Compaq, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Sony. Dell Inc, an American brand, outsources part of its batteries’ production to different companies in Asia, including Lextronics of Japan. The recalled batteries, although designed by the American company Dell Inc., were manufactured by Lextronics Limited of Japan.
What is it about?
Dell Inc. has discovered a problem with a variety of laptop batteries that were sold as part of many different brands of laptop computers and announced a recall yesterday. The batch of batteries been recalled were originally manufactured by Lextronics in Japan. The recalled batteries may have come installed in a new laptop from the following brands Acer, Compaq, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Sony, or may have been provided as part of a service call that required a battery to be replaced.
According to the Dell Inc. announcement:
A problem in the batteries might cause them to overheat and explode, posing health risks to consumers.
What Should I Do?
Anyone having a laptop computer is urged to visit the following website www.japanbatteriesproblem.com and follow the directions it contains. The instructions are clear, but must be followed precisely.
If your battery is subject to the recall, Dell Inc. states the following:
“Batteries subject to recall should not be used while awaiting a replacement battery pack from Dell Inc. You may continue to use your laptop computer using the AC adapter power cord originally provided with your notebook.”
Please note that the recall applies only for the batch of batteries manufactured in Japan.
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Carvalho, S.W., Muralidharan, E. & Bapuji, H. Corporate Social ‘Irresponsibility’: Are Consumers’ Biases in Attribution of Blame Helping Companies in Product–Harm Crises Involving Hybrid Products?. J Bus Ethics 130, 651–663 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-014-2258-9
- Product recall
- Attribution of blame
- Brand familiarity
- Hybrid products