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Naming and Shaming

Shame is a deep, perhaps universal, human emotion that can motivate or alter behavior. Families, religious organizations, informal groups, and governments have long used shame to shape members’ actions. In recent decades, activists, executives, and scholars have started asking whether companies can also be motivated and regulated by something like shame. When companies value their reputations, they may be susceptible to “naming and shaming”—that is, a form of social control that uses negative publicity to threaten a social actor’s reputation in order to promote change in the actor’s behavior. In this entry, we will discuss the antecedents and sources of naming and shaming campaigns, the factors that make companies susceptible, and the consequences of naming and shaming corporations.

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