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Media scandals as routine: The construction of corporate moral order
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
2016 (English)Conference paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Over the years we have witnessed an increased scrutiny of corporate responsibilities and

evaluations of the morality of organizations and leaders as a part of the construction of a

moral order. In this paper, we understand the on-going moralization of organizational

behaviour from the perspective of media scandals. Whereas media scandals often are both

understood and studied as single events, research has also emphasised the interrelated nature

of scandals. We build on previous studies and develop insights on how news media scandals

can take a repetitive form over time, and elaborate on what role media scandals about

corporate behaviour play in challenging the moral order and shaping social norms about what

it means to be a responsible organization. Empirically, the paper builds on a content analysis

of “news media scandals” – when H&M, a large Swedish textile company, recurrently was

accused for misconduct and irresponsible behaviour – over a period of 18 years, from 1995 to

2012. One key conclusion is that even though both the logic of media and the character of a

scandal suggest some kind of novelty and norm breaking aspect, the dynamics of the media

scandal of H&M indicate that the trajectory of the scandals is rather repetitive and even

routinized. The routinized media scandal leads to a one-dimensional media image of H&M as

a moral actor. Instead of reflecting different views on complex moral or responsibility issues –

the media texts rather confirm and strengthen previous media narratives of H&M. The

findings also raise questions about the immediate and long-term consequences of a routinized

media scandal. When a media scandal becomes routinized, we can expect it to influence the

dynamics of the legitimizing and delegitimizing of the organizational behaviour.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-136573OAI: diva2:1055409
32nd EGOS Colloquium 2016
Medierna som moralisk domstol
The Jan Wallander and Tom Hedelius Foundation
Available from: 2016-12-12 Created: 2016-12-12 Last updated: 2016-12-12

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Grafström, MariaWindell, Karolina
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