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Shooting the principal while embracing the agent: Why process matters when delivering bad outcomes

Опубликовано на портале: 25-12-2003
Подтип: PhD
Тематические разделы: Менеджмент, Маркетинг

In two experiments I examined the process by which non-critical bad news communicated through an agent influences respondents' evaluations toward both the agent and the principal. Respondents rated both agents and principals most favorably when the agent adopted a forthcoming delivery style while delivering bad news. However, when the agent accepted personal responsibility for a bad news outcome, respondents formed separate evaluations for the principal and the agent, leading to a potential conflict of interest between agent and principal. Specifically, respondents' evaluations for the principal were most favorable when the agent passed off responsibility for the problem to the client's employee rather than accepting personal responsibility. However, the agent derived the highest evaluations by personally accepting responsibility for bad news. When respondents anticipated that they would be held accountable for their evaluations, this principal-agent conflict disappeared. That is, in conditions in which respondents perceived they would be expected to later justify their evaluations, both the principal and agent received the highest evaluations when the agent passed responsibility for the bad news to the client's employee. This suggests that accountability moderates an individual's evaluative responses and in so doing, eliminates the principal-agent conflict.