Volume 22, Issue 4, October 2012
Jennifer Jordan, Daniel A. Diermeier, Adam D. Galinsky
The Strategic Samaritan
How Effectiveness and Proximity Affect Corporate Responses to External Crises
This research examines how two dimensions of moral intensity involved in a corporation’s external crisis response—magnitude of effectiveness and interpersonal proximity—influence observer perceptions of and behavioral intentions toward the corporation. Across three studies, effectiveness decreased negative perceptions and increased pro-organizational intentions via ethical judgment of the response. Moreover, the two dimensions interacted such that a response high in proximity but low in effectiveness led to more negative perceptions and to less pro-organizational intentions. This interaction was particularly pronounced if the corporation portrayed itself as communal-oriented. The interaction was mediated by individuals’ ethical judgment, which was a function of the corporation’s perceived benevolent concern. We termed the interaction the Strategic Samaritan, for it was when the corporation tried to appear like a Good Samaritan, displaying proximity with victims but not accompanying it with effective help, that it was seen as acting with less benevolent concern.