ON THE FORGETTING OF CORPORATE IRRESPONSIBILITY

Sebastien Mena*, Jukka Rintamäki, Peter Fleming, Andre Spicer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Why are some serious cases of corporate irresponsibility collectively forgotten? Drawing on social memory studies, we examine how this collective forgetting process can occur. We propose that a major instance of corporate irresponsibility leads to the emergence of a stakeholder mnemonic community that shares a common recollection of the past incident. This community generates and then draws on mnemonic traces to sustain a collective memory of the past event over time. In addition to the natural entropic tendency to forget, collective memory is also undermined by instrumental "forgetting work," which we conceptualize in this article. Forgetting work involves manipulating short-term conditions of the event, silencing vocal "rememberers," and undermining collective mnemonic traces that sustain a version of the past. This process can result in a reconfigured collective memory and collective forgetting of corporate irresponsibility events. Collective forgetting can have positive and negative consequences for the firm, stakeholders, and society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)720-738
Number of pages19
JournalAcademy of Management Review
Volume41
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • COLLECTIVE MEMORY
  • IMPRESSION MANAGEMENT
  • ORGANIZATIONAL IDENTITY
  • SOCIAL-RESPONSIBILITY
  • RHETORICAL HISTORY
  • ISSUE SALIENCE
  • STRATEGIES
  • INDUSTRY
  • MOVEMENT
  • MISCONDUCT

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