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How to deal with negative online employer reviews: An application of image repair theory


Kollitz, Rouven; Ruhle, Sascha; Wilhelmy, Annika (2022). How to deal with negative online employer reviews: An application of image repair theory. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 30(4):526-544.

Abstract

Although negative employer reviews pose a threat to employers by reducing organizational attractiveness, employers can respond to reviews to avert these threats. However, we lack a clear understanding of the response strategies and factors that determine response strategies' impact. To address this issue, we introduce image repair theory (IRT) as a promising theoretical foundation in the study of employer response. Using an experimental design, we tested the effects of IRT's general image repair strategies (i.e., Denial, Evasion of Responsibility, Reducing Offensiveness, Corrective Action, and Mortification) and the mechanisms underlying these effects according to IRT. Moreover, we explored the role of review content (i.e., the type of employer image information the review entails) as a contingency factor. We found differences between Denial, Corrective Action, and Mortification, which show that the choice of response strategies can matter and that the relationship between response strategy and potential applicants' perceptions of organizational attractiveness is mediated by attributions of responsibility rather than by perceived offensiveness. In addition, our results suggest that when negative reviews contain information about instrumental rather than symbolic employer image attributes, potential applicants can attribute more responsibility to the employer. Furthermore, only the effects of Reducing Offensiveness and Mortification were dependent on the review's content. We discuss theoretical implications and practical recommendations for employers that respond to negative employer reviews.

Abstract

Although negative employer reviews pose a threat to employers by reducing organizational attractiveness, employers can respond to reviews to avert these threats. However, we lack a clear understanding of the response strategies and factors that determine response strategies' impact. To address this issue, we introduce image repair theory (IRT) as a promising theoretical foundation in the study of employer response. Using an experimental design, we tested the effects of IRT's general image repair strategies (i.e., Denial, Evasion of Responsibility, Reducing Offensiveness, Corrective Action, and Mortification) and the mechanisms underlying these effects according to IRT. Moreover, we explored the role of review content (i.e., the type of employer image information the review entails) as a contingency factor. We found differences between Denial, Corrective Action, and Mortification, which show that the choice of response strategies can matter and that the relationship between response strategy and potential applicants' perceptions of organizational attractiveness is mediated by attributions of responsibility rather than by perceived offensiveness. In addition, our results suggest that when negative reviews contain information about instrumental rather than symbolic employer image attributes, potential applicants can attribute more responsibility to the employer. Furthermore, only the effects of Reducing Offensiveness and Mortification were dependent on the review's content. We discuss theoretical implications and practical recommendations for employers that respond to negative employer reviews.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Psychology
Dewey Decimal Classification:150 Psychology
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > General Business, Management and Accounting
Social Sciences & Humanities > Applied Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > General Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Strategy and Management
Social Sciences & Humanities > Management of Technology and Innovation
Uncontrolled Keywords:Management of Technology and Innovation, Strategy and Management, General Psychology, Applied Psychology, General Business, Management and Accounting
Language:English
Date:1 December 2022
Deposited On:09 May 2023 15:41
Last Modified:29 Apr 2024 01:37
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, Inc.
ISSN:0965-075X
OA Status:Green
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/ijsa.12392
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)