To read this content please select one of the options below:

Online firestorms: an act of civic engagement or a narcissistic boost? The role of brand misconduct appraisals

Elena Delgado-Ballester (Department of Marketing, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain)
Inés López-López (Department of Marketing, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain)
Alicia Bernal (Department of Marketing, University of Murcia, Murcia, Spain)

Journal of Product & Brand Management

ISSN: 1061-0421

Article publication date: 23 September 2022

Issue publication date: 31 January 2023

374

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to examine personal factors that drive the initiation of an online firestorm, an online collaborative attack against a brand that usually occurs when a brand fails or engages in misconduct.

Design/methodology/approach

A structured questionnaire is used for data collection. Via an online panel, 303 questionnaires are completed. Hypotheses are tested using structural equation modelling.

Findings

Civic engagement and, to a lesser extent, narcissism explain intentions to initiate online firestorms. Individuals’ inherent concern for others and for ethical issues prompts them to punish a brand publicly, with the expectation that other individuals will follow and that the brand will feel compelled to react. Misconduct-related appraisal factors, such as severity, proximity, moral inequity and outrage, can amplify the effect of civic engagement.

Research limitations/implications

Future research should investigate whether the findings hold for different types of misconduct, cultures and other forms of narcissism.

Practical implications

By providing managers with a better understanding of the motivations for launching an attack, this study offers guidance on managing a brand when an online firestorm occurs.

Originality/value

Whereas previous research has focused on external drivers of online firestorms, this study builds on the prosocial behaviour literature to analyse the individual characteristics prompting the initiation of an online firestorm.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Authors would like to thank Catedra CajaMurcia for its financial support.

Citation

Delgado-Ballester, E., López-López, I. and Bernal, A. (2023), "Online firestorms: an act of civic engagement or a narcissistic boost? The role of brand misconduct appraisals", Journal of Product & Brand Management, Vol. 32 No. 2, pp. 257-272. https://doi.org/10.1108/JPBM-08-2021-3627

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles