Oskyldiga straffas ibland

En viktig mekanism för att disciplinera företag i en marknadsekonomi är kunders möjligheter att straffa genom att flytta sina förehavanden till andra företag. När Skandiaskandalen fick uppmärksamhet i media drabbades företaget hårt av en förtroendekris, som fick många kunder att byta försäkringsbolag. Nu visar en ny studie, ” Undeserved Loss: The Spread of Legitimacy Loss to Innocent Organizations in Response to Reported Corporate Deviance”, publicerad i Administrative Science Quarterly, som undersöker förändringar i placeringen av medel i PPM-systemet, att inte bara Skandia drabbades:

When managers of the insurance firm Skandia were accused of self-dealing, the mutual fund subsidiaries of other insurance and pension firms lost business. Negative audience reactions were limited to the periods of high media attention to the scandal and were directed most strongly to organizations that shared the insurer organizational form with Skandia. But there was also withdrawal of funds from subsidiaries of firms of similar size. Also, because the Skandia scandal involved real estate dealings, other firms with real estate holdings experienced withdrawals from their mutual fund subsidiaries. Because the value of mutual funds is based on the underlying securities and is independent of the management firms’s stocks, these investors’ movements would be difficult to justify by a concern for future returns, and in fact, there was no evidence of lower returns in the fund managers that saw outflows of investors. The scandals did not cause losses to all mutual fund providers. Consistent with a contagious loss of legitimacy, individuals moved toward the organizations that were the furthest removed from the “guilty,” so net investment moved from mutual fund families operated by subsidiaries of Swedish insurance firms to independently operated fund families and fund families operated by subsidiaries of foreign firms.

En tanke som slog mig är att denna effekt kanske minskar disciplineringen, eftersom det företag som fuskar inte bara drabbas för egen del: konkurrenter drabbas också. På så sätt blir effekten mindre allvarlig, relativt sett, för det fuskande företaget, jämfört med en situation där bara just det företaget hade straffats.