Intergroup Conflict is Our Business: CEOs’ Ethical Intergroup Leadership Fuels Stakeholder Support for Corporate Intergroup Responsibility

Intergroup Conflict is Our Business: CEOs’ Ethical Intergroup Leadership Fuels Stakeholder Support for Corporate Intergroup Responsibility

By
Nir Halevy, Sora Jun, Eileen Y. Chou
Journal of Business Ethics. September
18, 2018, Pages 1-18

Is reducing large-scale intergroup conflict the business of corporations? Although large corporations can use their power and prominence to reduce intergroup conflict in society, it is unclear to what extent stakeholders support corporate Intergroup Responsibility (CIR). Study 1 showed that support for CIR correlates in theoretically meaningful ways with relevant economic, social, and moral attitudes, including fair market ideology, consumer support for corporate social responsibility (CSR), social dominance orientation, symbolic racism, and moral foundations. Studies 2 and 3 employed experimental designs to test the hypothesis that business leaders who advocate for intergroup tolerance boost perceptions of corporations and their leaders as moral, just, and fair, which in turn, increases stakeholders’ support for CIR. We found support for this hypothesis across two highly publicized and contentious events related to racial conflict in the U.S.: The White supremacy rally in Charlottesville and the federal government’s announcement about the planned rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration policy. Specifically, exposing participants to real-world tweets by CEOs who advocated intergroup tolerance following these events increased participants’ support for CIR. This effect was mediated by heightened perceptions of corporations and their leaders as moral, just, and fair. Taken together, these findings enhance our understanding of the factors that shape stakeholders’ reactions to CIR; highlight intergroup conflict as an emerging arena for CSR; and illustrate the power of ethical intergroup leadership.