Single-Actor Scandal or Multiple-Actor Scandal? A Framework for Studying Scandal Dynamics

30 Pages Posted: 1 Nov 2022 Last revised: 5 Mar 2024

Date Written: July 26, 2022

Abstract

Scandal is the disruptive publicity of alleged misconduct and it is important for organizations because of its severe consequences. Distinguishing between single-actor scandals, i.e., scandals that result from publicity of misconduct by a single actor, and multiple-actor scandals, i.e., scandals that result from publicity of misconduct of a similar type by multiple actors, we develop a framework for studying scandal dynamics that draws a distinction between how scandals start (single-actor or multiple-actor) and how they end (single-actor or multiple-actor). We focus specifically on spillover scandals (from single to multiple actors) and scapegoating scandals (from multiple to single actors) and identify several mechanisms that affect the likelihood of these two important types of scandals. We conclude by developing a research agenda that builds upon the central contribution of our framework: the distinction between single- and multiple-organization scandals and the transitions that result in spillovers and scapegoating.

Keywords: misconduct; scandal; spillover; scapegoating; multiple-actor

Suggested Citation

Dewan, Yasir and Jensen, Michael, Single-Actor Scandal or Multiple-Actor Scandal? A Framework for Studying Scandal Dynamics (July 26, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4259120 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4259120

Yasir Dewan (Contact Author)

HEC Paris ( email )

1 rue de la Liberation
Jouy-en-Josas Cedex, 78351
France

Michael Jensen

University of Michigan ( email )

500 S. State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

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