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Proceedings of 12th Asian Business Research Conference 8 - 9 October 2015, Novotel Hotel Bangkok on Siam Square, Bangkok, Thailand ISBN: 978-1-922069-85-6 Organizational Equity: Positive and Negative Attribution Lindsay Meredith The objective of this paper is to build on three different areas of research. The parallel political market place, organizational equity and stakeholder theory are combined to shape a theoretical discussion of micro and macro marketing systems––especially as they are applied in a business-to-business marketing context. First, a schematic presents some of the sources of positive and negative attribution that originate in micro/macro marketing systems. Next, the paper presents a modified description of the traditional macromarketing environment due to the impact of factors like social network systems, the Internet and negative attribution marketing campaigns by adversarial stakeholders. Finally, a dynamic model of the mechanism by which the micro/macro marketing system shapes organizational equity is discussed. These are presented in a template intended to help marketing practitioners more effectively deal with the macro marketing system over which they often have limited control. Key words: organizational equity, stakeholders, social network systems negative attribution, adversarial Introduction In marketing, work related to stakeholders external to the core business network has roots in two major areas of research. First, macromarketing research by Shapiro (1964) argued that the environment was a dynamic component of the system and was part of it rather than external to it. Hutt, Mokwa and Shapiro (1986) subsequently suggested the existence of a parallel political marketplace with multiple stakeholder influences. Shapiro and Heslop (1982) also examined the role of government influence in the management of macromarketing systems. Layton (2014) extended this earlier work and developed his MAS theory (mechanism, action structure) framework that contained a dynamic orientation, focused on causation and linked micro choices and macro structures. His framework provided an ideal foundation for exploring how micro and macro stakeholders interact with each other. Additionally, Layton‘s (2014) MAS theory linkage to cognate social sciences provides a foundation for addressing the technologically based phenomena of social network systems, negative attribution and their dynamic interaction with each other as well as other stakeholder groups. The other major line of inquiry can be found in the area of business-tobusiness marketing and stakeholder research. While macromarketing research has identified stakeholders beyond the core network it hasn‘t explicitly examined the implications of their activities for strategic planning by marketing practitioners as they attempt to deal with macrosystem stakeholders. Within a business-to business (B2B) marketing context, work by Bunn, Savage and Holloway (2002) used a case study of innovation to explore an approach for marketing to multiple stakeholders. Polonsky (1995) __________________________________________________ Lindsay Meredith, Professor, Simon Fraser University, Beedie School of Business, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, Email: [email protected] Proceedings of 12th Asian Business Research Conference 8 - 9 October 2015, Novotel Hotel Bangkok on Siam Square, Bangkok, Thailand ISBN: 978-1-922069-85-6 focused on the application of stakeholder theory for the purposes of environmental marketing in a B2B context. Also in the area of stakeholder research, work by Feng, Lessard, Crawley, de Weck, and Cameron (2013) proposed a Stakeholder Value Network based on microeconomic utility theory that attempts to account for the impact of multiple indirect stakeholder issues as well as their interactive effects. Integrating the preceding research streams, the objectives of this paper are to: 1. explore the issues of negative attribution and the role of adversarial stakeholders. In pursuit of this objective, hypothesized sources of positive and negative attribution that contribute to aggregate organizational equity are developed. 2. extend the concepts of micro and macro system interaction by suggesting sources of causality within stakeholders groups and between micro and macro stakeholders. 3. suggest a model of attribution dynamics and the way that positive and negative attribution forces interact between the micro and macro networks. The management implications of these objectives are then developed to hopefully aid marketing practitioners in developing strategies to deal with their macro/micro environment. Proceedings of 12th Asian Business Research Conference 8 - 9 October 2015, Novotel Hotel Bangkok on Siam Square, Bangkok, Thailand ISBN: 978-1-922069-85-6 Diagram 1 introduces the concepts of negative and positive attribution. Diag. 1 Positive and Negative Attribution POSITIVE BRAND EQUITY Macronet Strategies: 1 POSITIVE BRAND EQUITY Micronet Strategies: 2 - long run brand equity building strategies - SNS leadership - social cause leadership - relationship marketing - community commitment (financial & in-kind support) - supply chain governance - industry self-governance - government interaction - marketing disaster planning ATTRIBUTION BALANCE 5 A function of: 1. Positive/Negative Brand Equity (Static effects) 2. Positive/Negative Brand Equity (Dynamic effects) NEGATIVE BRAND EQUITY Macronet Causes: 3 NEGATIVE BRAND EQUITY Micronet Causes: - adversarial stakeholders Past & current performance of: - SNS - core network - mass media - supply chain partners - adversarial political stakeholders - corporate brand deficit 4 - industry - governmental agencies Positive attribution is generated mainly by the hub firm (and the supply chain companies in its micro network) via their collective marketing campaigns. Positive organizational/brand equity can however, also be generated via the macro network and more broadly based ―macromarketing strategies‖ instituted by micro network members or their industry. Conversely, negative attribution in the context of this paper means that adversarial groups launch their own marketing, public relations and/or legal campaigns to highlight the negative attributes of the marketer‘s micro network and/or their products and proposed projects. This can produce a negative impact on the equity of the organization and or its brands. Macro network causes of negative organizational/brand equity are hypothesized to emanate Proceedings of 12th Asian Business Research Conference 8 - 9 October 2015, Novotel Hotel Bangkok on Siam Square, Bangkok, Thailand ISBN: 978-1-922069-85-6 mainly from adversarial stakeholders in the larger macromarketing environment that surrounds the micro network. Negative brand equity can of course, also emanate from the micro network via poor marketing strategies or corporate/industry marketing disasters. Finally, attribution balance is a function of positive and negative attribution forces that interact to influence the perceived brand equity of the firm among the various stakeholder groups. Box 1 suggests macro net strategies for building positive brand equity. The strategies suggested here are germane to the macro network and may be generated at the industry or company level. They are applicable on a much wider basis than those strategies that are focused on micro network target markets. Social network system (SNS) leadership means that marketers adopt a proactive strategy in creating a positive brand equity position on social network sites as opposed to developing a reactive response when adversarial stakeholders generate negative attribute positioning on their own Internet and SNS sites. It is suggested that social equity strategies can be used to build a stock of positive brand equity in the macromarketing environment. The value of this is twofold. First, it contributes to a corporate or industry reputation that is community oriented versus purely profit oriented. Second, it acts as a brand equity buffer should the firm or industry find itself with negative attribution problems resulting from marketing or PR disasters. Community commitment is demonstrated through both financial as well as inkind contributions. In kind contributions can take the form of both labor as well as management expertise. The latter can also be demonstrated in terms of social cause leadership like environmentalism and/or global commitments to social issue advancement. Government interaction derives from environmental management strategies like those proposed by Zeithaml and Zeithaml (1984). Direct government lobbying and voluntary participation in self-governing industry regulation represent techniques by which organizations attempt to proactively manage their macromarketing environment. Positive brand equity strategies ideally align core network with government objectives such as generating investment, increasing government tax bases and creating employment (Feng et al., 2012). Marketing disaster planning (Coombs 2007) is a comparatively newer macro network strategy that is evolving due to the interaction of adversarial stakeholder social network systems and mass media. It involves the development of marketing plans for worst-case scenario events. Such plans are needed because negative attribution reactions can unfold very quickly and vehemently following public relations disaster events. Lucea‘s (2007) advice that timely management helps to avoid escalation is also well taken when we consider how quickly corporate image can be damaged by poor outsourcing practices, product recall problems or environmental disasters. Engineers, information technology managers and emergency response teams commonly plan for disaster recovery. Marketing practitioners would do well to emulate and similarly develop such defensive positioning policies. Proceedings of 12th Asian Business Research Conference 8 - 9 October 2015, Novotel Hotel Bangkok on Siam Square, Bangkok, Thailand ISBN: 978-1-922069-85-6 Box 2 presents micro network strategies for creating positive brand equity. It should be noted that the particular strategies selected in box 2 focus on building long-run brand equity among the firm‘s target and peripheral markets The fundamental difference between the macro and micro strategies are that the former are directed toward the macromarketing environment in which the firm is embedded while the latter are focused on the firm‘s direct and derived demand (Meredith 2006) customers. Many of these micro strategies are very familiar to practitioners (e.g., relationship marketing) and need little elaboration here. Two relatively newer issues do however merit discussion. First, Internet and SNS developments have contributed to long run brand equity building techniques. These have proven useful not only in business to consumer markets but more recently for B2B practitioners as well. It allows the latter to reach not only their direct customers in an attempt to build longterm loyalty but also final consumers in the derived demand category. Second, network theory has made significant advances in helping hub firms establish extended self-governance in their supply chains. This has been in part caused by macro network pressures resulting from transgressions by supply-chain members that generate subsequent reactions by adversarial stakeholders in the hub firm‘s final customer markets. For example, the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh where 1100 workers died, caused major repercussions for retailers who relied on suppliers working from that factory. In box 3 the components of macro network based negative brand equity are introduced. Adversarial stakeholders can develop from a broad spectrum extending from disaffected individual customers who voice their concerns using the Internet to highly organized groups who are opposed to individual corporations or their industries. Their danger to the corporate agenda is twofold. First, through voicing individual complaints via blogs or YouTube videos for example, they can potentially compromise the practitioner‘s positive attribution marketing efforts. Second, using their own negative attribution marketing/PR campaigns they can damage the firm's marketing efforts or even worse, generate a ―veto vote‖ that is sufficiently strong to influence public and political views regarding the company and/or its industry. SNS skills also allow adversarial stakeholders to gain what is best referred to as critical mass in affecting public and political opinion via mass media. Once the adversarial SNS site is sufficiently large in terms of participation, it potentially becomes a source of attention for mass media coverage. Consider the attraction that mobile connectivity, photo/video/sharing like U-Tube and blogging offer to mass media in terms of providing easy access to news stories. A number of hypothesized effects are suggested. First, mass media coverage helps attract even more attention to the SNS site thereby building additional traffic for it. Second, the conventional mass media coverage spreads the adversarial stakeholder message to the much wider public stakeholder body as well as to politicians and industry regulatory bodies. Third, in response to the increasing trend whereby news is now consumed on mobile devices, mass media sources have instituted their own interactive SNS programs such as ―viewer voting websites‖ in attempts to maintain their market shares. This symbiotic relationship between SNS and mass media is indicated in diagram 2 by the solid arrow leading from the ―Internet and Social Proceedings of 12th Asian Business Research Conference 8 - 9 October 2015, Novotel Hotel Bangkok on Siam Square, Bangkok, Thailand ISBN: 978-1-922069-85-6 Network Sites‖ box to ―Mass Media‖ with the return dotted arrow traveling from the ―Mass Media‖ box back to the ―Internet & SNS― box. A caveat is required here since this hypothesis need to be tested from a causality standpoint by using time series analysis to examine temporal data of the progression: a/ from the social network site ‗hits‘; b/ to the attraction of mass media coverage (proxied by broadcast minutes and print column inches) and then subsequently back to; c/ further increased hits that develop back on the social network site(s). This hypothesis in effect argues for a synergistic relationship whereby SNS and mass media coverage stimulate coverage for each other. This hypothesis is also purely speculative and requires structural equation modeling (Lisrel) to search for antecedent and correlative evidence. It is based on the authors‘ anecdotal experience of approximately 1800 mass media and Internet interviews––many of which dealt with adversarial stakeholders and negative attribution communications. Again anecdotally, it is also notable that in the last two decades the pattern of mass media reporters requesting interviews based on SNS activity has grown exponentially. From an empirical standpoint there may also be some collaborative support for the preceding hypothesis based on research by Yu, Duan and Cao (2013). They found that social media combined with conventional (mass) media had a strong interactive effect in terms of their impact on the stock performance of 824 publicly traded firms. Mass media can also function as independent adversarial stakeholders in their own right by fulfilling their mandate for investigative journalism. This can be problematic for marketing managers since failures in only one part of the marketing mix may be sufficient to generate negative mass media exposure and influence public opinion. In effect, the hub firm and/or its core network may fall victim to an ―Achilles' heel‖ effect where a single issue can make them vulnerable to adversarial stakeholders‘ negative attribution. The negative attribution ascribed to Nike over sweatshop production practices in Asia is a good example. Adversarial political stakeholders develop both through ideological differences of opinion with industries and corporations and also as a result of derived response. The latter occurs when other adversarial stakeholder groups are able to generate sufficiently strong negative attribution to influence the positioning adopted by political decision-makers as they attempt to sustain their political base (Feng, Lessard, Crawley, de Weck, and Cameron, 2012). As communications by adversarial groups gain traction with public stakeholders, political decision-makers may be pressured to modify or adopt a concordant position as they attempt to maintain their political base. Governmental agencies in turn become adversarial stakeholders since the derived response from political stakeholders is often manifested in government restrictions and regulations that the agencies must enforce. Additionally, agency mandates often require that they exercise what is Proceedings of 12th Asian Business Research Conference 8 - 9 October 2015, Novotel Hotel Bangkok on Siam Square, Bangkok, Thailand ISBN: 978-1-922069-85-6 deemed to be a sufficient level of adversarial oriented oversight or risk criticism for dereliction of their responsibility. Legal interventions may also arise when adversarial stakeholders invoke either civil or criminal proceedings. Both the likelihood and severity of legal threats that might be introduced by any stakeholder group are of relevance. One good indicator of the probability of legal action is the past history of such use by a stakeholder. Extensive experience in launching civil or criminal actions serves as a proxy for the sophistication of adversaries – especially if their past actions have proven successful. Environmental and aboriginal groups for example, have made effective use of court injunctions to stall resource development projects by industrial marketers (e.g., Keystone pipeline in the US and the and the Enbridge pipeline in Canada). The severity of legal actions can also range from extensive civil damages based on class action suits to criminal and government agency penalties that can include both substantial fines and/or indictments. Coupling these sources of negative attribution together leads to the causal structure expressed in Diagram 2. The heavy dark arrows suggest the hypothesized causal direction of influence among the stakeholder groups. While it can also be argued that all of the stakeholder groups can simultaneously influence each other, the direction of the dark arrows is intended to indicate the main flow of negative attribution among stakeholders. The dotted arrows indicate the proposed direct positioning strategies that can also be used by the various adversarial stakeholder groups as they mount direct advertising/PR campaigns to influence other stakeholders. The solid black arrows indicate the countervailing communications used by the core network/industry as they also attempt to directly influence those same stakeholder groups and/or defend their position. Box 4 deals with micro network sources of negative attribution. There is a substantial literature on hub companies, their supply chain partners and the strategic management networks that weld them together. (Ford, Gadde, Håkansson & Snehota 2002; Parolini, 1999; Gulati 2007; Lavie, 2007). A lesser amount of research however, deals with the impact of negative attribution and its subsequent effect on negative brand equity. Just as positive brand equity must be built over time, it is argued that negative brand equity results from the accumulation of negative events and behaviors that also occur over time. While macro network based negative attribution usually originates with stakeholders external to the firm and its industry, the micro network sources of negative brand equity are usually found within the hub firm, its core network (Partanen & Möller 2012) and/or its industry. Negative brand equity then, is argued to be a function of both current as well as past performance by the core network and/or its industry members. Proceedings of 12th Asian Business Research Conference 8 - 9 October 2015, Novotel Hotel Bangkok on Siam Square, Bangkok, Thailand ISBN: 978-1-922069-85-6 Diag.2 Stakeholder Causality Diag.2 Adversarial Adversarial Stakeholders Stakeholders Corporate Core Network&& Industry Industry Agendas Communications Regulatory and and Legal Regulatory Legal Stakeholders Stakeholders Political Political Stakeholders Stakeholders Internet&& Internet SocialNetwork Network Social Sites Sites Mass Mass Media Media Public Public Stakeholders Stakeholders Corporate brand deficit‖ refers to the cumulative result of poor corporate marketing practices as well as corporate marketing disasters that may originate within the core network. As supply chains lengthen with global sourcing for example, there is an increasing chance that the hub firm‘s reputation may be compromised by suppliers further back in the chain (Locke, Qin, and Brause, 2007). Similarly, the hub firm‘s industry may generate negative attribution that eventually contributes to substantial negative brand equity and elicits adversarial stakeholder response. The significant increase in oil tanker car derailments and fires attributable to a few companies has resulted in new federal safety regulations that now apply to the entire industry. Proceedings of 12th Asian Business Research Conference 8 - 9 October 2015, Novotel Hotel Bangkok on Siam Square, Bangkok, Thailand ISBN: 978-1-922069-85-6 In Box 5, attribution balance is determined by the interaction of positive and negative brand equity. Whether the valence is positive or negative is a function of how effectively the core network are able to generate a level of positive attribution versus how effectively negative attribution is generated either by the core network‘s poor marketing practices or by adversarial stakeholders. The impact of this interaction has been to force practitioners to alter their attribution campaigns. First, to develop their own positive attribution campaigns by explaining and promoting their own brands and agendas. Second, to counter adversarial stakeholder negative attribution campaigns that effectively reposition them in an unfavorable light. Static or cumulative effects address the issue of long-term brand equity positioning. Some long-term social equity or cause marketing strategies may prove successful in building a positive brand equity position that could be helpful in maintaining customer loyalty. As stated earlier, a second argument might be made that it also contributes to a stock of social goodwill that might prove useful in moderating the response of potential adversarial stakeholders should a marketing error or PR disaster occur. Just as it might be argued that positive brand equity contains a cumulative or static element that contributes to favorable long-term perceptual stability, the corollary might be suggested that negative brand equity represents the accumulation of reputational brand deficits that might not easily be reversed. The dynamic aspect of brand equity addresses the issues of currency and magnitude. Currency of issues related to the firm‘s brand, products and projects is important because significant current attention––positive or negative––will serve to raise public recall and subsequent sensitivity to the firm‘s marketing efforts. Environmental scanning is useful in this regard because stakeholder reaction could be a function of: a/ the aggregate industry‘s reputation; b/ the behavior of other firm‘s in the core network‘s value chain; c/ the current reputation of the marketer‘s own firm and/or; d/ related issues raised by any of the stakeholder groups. Magnitude addresses the importance of the micro network and its behavior to the macro network stakeholders. Consider for example, the rapid stakeholder response over public water supplies when oil companies introduced ‗fracking‘ or the magnitude of the public, political and legal stakeholders response to British Petroleum's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The more important the product or project to stakeholders, the more effort that must be spent on research to accurately gauge public sentiment and to identify both the key positive (and especially) negative attributes that have to be addressed in positioning. A useful heuristic at this point is that the more important the issue is to public stakeholders the easier it will be for adversarial groups to mobilize public participation in the form of petitions, boycotts, blockades and/or demonstrations meant to pressure political stakeholders. Proceedings of 12th Asian Business Research Conference 8 - 9 October 2015, Novotel Hotel Bangkok on Siam Square, Bangkok, Thailand ISBN: 978-1-922069-85-6 In diagram 2 the cumulative result of direct and indirect adversarial stakeholder pressures viz. the other stakeholder groups is to produce an impact on corporate and industry agendas. In the process of rationalizing the various stakeholder pressures, the core networks and their industries must ultimately interact with the adversarial stakeholders. The outcome of this interaction leads to three possibilities: a. corporations/industry in the micro network reach some accommodation with adversarial stakeholders in a negotiated solution; b. adversarial stakeholders are successful in persuading the other stakeholder groups to impose sanctions/outright prohibitions or; c. the corporations/industries are successful in defeating adversarial stakeholder pressures originating with the macro network. In diagram 3 the interactive dynamics of negative and positive attribution are explored. The diagram delineates the gradations of attribution from strong positive through neutral to strong negative. It also identifies advocate, neutral and adversarial stakeholders in the macro network and shows the micro network that is comprised of supportive customers/core network communications, neutral non-customers and disaffected/indirect substitute customers. The dotted lines indicate the communications flows that govern the interaction of the macro and micro network players while the solid lines represent the potential recruitment flows between the participant groups that result. It is hypothesized that the positive attribution sources in the macro and micro networks would in the first instance, target their communications at the advocate stakeholders (box 1) and supportive customers (box 4) as a means of reinforcing support within their target markets. Next, the neutral stakeholders (box 2) and neutral non-customers (box 5) would be approached since these groups may prove susceptible to persuasive positive attribution communications. Adversarial stakeholder groups holding a weak negative attribution position might also be targeted in hopes of converting them either to a neutral attribution status or even a weak positive attribution outlook. Similarly, disaffected customers and/or those using indirect substitutes (box 6) to that offered by the core network might be targeted if market research indicates they hold a weak negative attribution position that could potentially be converted to a neutral or positive position. It would be naïve to expect that those stakeholders (boxes 3 & 6) holding a strong negative attribution outlook could easily be converted to a positive position. Nevertheless, the core Proceedings of 12th Asian Business Research Conference 8 - 9 October 2015, Novotel Hotel Bangkok on Siam Square, Bangkok, Thailand ISBN: 978-1-922069-85-6 Diag. 3 ATTRIBUTION DYNAMICS POSITIVE ATTRIBUTION SOURCES STRONG POSITIVE ATTRIBUTION MACRO NETWORK MICRO NETWORK ATTRIBUTION NEUTRALITY NEGATIVE ATTRIBUTION SOURCES WEAK NEGATIVE ATTRIBUTION WEAK POSITIVE ATTRIBUTION 1 ADVOCATE STAKEHOLDERS 4 SUPPORTIVE CUSTOMERS & CORE NETWORK COMMUNICATIONS NEUTRAL STAKEHOLDERS ATTRIBUTION NEUTRAL NON-CUSTOMERS 2 5 STRONG NEGATIVE ATTRIBUTION 3 ADVERSARIAL STAKEHOLDERS DISSATISFIED & INDIRECT ç√ SUBSTITUTE CUSTOMERS 6 network might target them in attempt to convert them (through concessions for example) from a strong negative to a weaker negative attribution position. The negative attribution sources are hypothesized to act inversely. I.e., First they would entrench their position through communications between the adversarial stakeholders who hold negative attribution views in the macro and micro networks (boxes 3 & 6). Subsequently the stakeholders (boxes 2 & 5) characterized by attribution neutrality would be targeted in hopes of converting them to an adversarial status. Finally, with a forecasted lesser degree of success, some communications might be directed at those holding a strong positive outlook viz. the core network and its agenda (boxes1 & 4). The objective here is not so much to convert positive into negative attribution but rather to weaken the degree of commitment to the positive attribution position. In addition to communications flowing horizontally within each of the macro and the micro networks, communications also flow vertically between macro stakeholder groups and micro stakeholder groups as the advocate and adversarial proponents attempt to recruit support among the various customer groups (boxes 4, 5 and 6). The ultimate attribution balance would be determined by the ability of the advocate and adversarial stakeholders to recruit the largest as well as most important stakeholder groups in Diagram 2 to their side. Proceedings of 12th Asian Business Research Conference 8 - 9 October 2015, Novotel Hotel Bangkok on Siam Square, Bangkok, Thailand ISBN: 978-1-922069-85-6 Managerial Implications A number of marketing implications are relevant for the practitioner. 1. Micro network planning to interact with macro network stakeholders involves significant judgmental input. As with environmental scanning (Daft, Sormunen & Parks 1988; Weston 1991; Bharadwaj, Varadarajan & Fahy 1993; Harari 1994; Stratis & Powers 2001; Meredith 2007). Relevant external target market identification requires that marketers be able to look beyond the firm‘s direct customers and micro network. Traditionally this has been problematic––especially for business-to-business and resource extractive firms who traditionally, have been somewhat slower in recognizing the power of increasingly active adversarial stakeholders in the macro networks. 2. Practitioners need to be more sensitive to derived demand and derived response viz. the idea that they must help direct customers and supportive stakeholders advocate on their behalf to downstream customers/stakeholders. This is especially relevant when dealing with mass media, public and political stakeholders who are most likely to be targeted by adversarial groups. 3. Practitioners must develop strategies to target stakeholders who may distrust or outright dislike them and/or their core network. Converting strong negative attribution stakeholders to supporters would be naïve. Rather, the objective is to position brands, projects or products such that negative attributions are anticipated and hopefully mitigated––if not for strongly adversarial groups then at least for weakly committed adversarial and attribution neutral segments. 4. With good reason, many practitioners are averse to initiating a discussion regarding any negative attributes of their brand. Waiting for adversarial stakeholders to take a first mover advantage however, and only then responding with a counter-marketing campaign can leave them at a distinct disadvantage viz. stakeholders in the larger macro network. Keystone‘s counter-campaign to promote it's pipeline in the US after environmental groups effectively influenced media, public and political stakeholders is a classic example of this ‗come from behind‘ strategic positioning. 5. The symbiosis that has developed between social network systems and mass media has created the potential for a powerful critical mass of opinion that can develop very quickly. Marketers must be aware that adversarial stakeholders––even individuals––now have a mechanism via SNS platforms like YouTube with which they can mount effective negative attribution campaigns very quickly. 6. Marketing practitioners should include the development of plans for worstcase scenario events just as engineers, information technology managers and emergency response teams commonly plan for disaster recovery. ‗Disaster marketing plans‘ are needed because negative attribution reactions can unfold very quickly and vehemently following public relations Proceedings of 12th Asian Business Research Conference 8 - 9 October 2015, Novotel Hotel Bangkok on Siam Square, Bangkok, Thailand ISBN: 978-1-922069-85-6 disaster events. Lucea‘s (2007) advice that timely management helps to avoid escalation is well taken when we consider how quickly corporate image can be damaged by poor outsourcing practices, product recall problems or environmental disasters. Conclusions This initial attempt to focus on organizational equity as structured by positive and negative attribution clearly needs much more work. It does however represent an attempt to firstly explore potential sources of positive/negative attribution and secondly to offer some tentative hypotheses regarding the dynamics of attribution interaction between the micro and macro stakeholders. Multivariate research is obviously needed to substantiate many of the ideas suggested here. Time series work is needed to examine causality issues between the various stakeholder groups and how they influence each other. Antecedent variables need to be identified and examined through structural equation modeling techniques like Lisrel. The objective however was not to focus on multivariate modeling and hypothesis testing. Rather, two objectives are intended. First, it is hoped that research in marketing can be expanded more to include negative attribution and how it functions in micro/macro networks. A massive amount of literature has been devoted to promoting brands, products and projects. Comparatively little work has addressed the need to deal with adversarial stakeholders who don't trust or dislike the marketer‘s organization. Second, the article was developed in no small part to help practitioners deal with negative attribution threats that can make their firm, its micro network and its objectives vulnerable to stakeholder attack because changes brought about by Internet technology, and the increased sophistication of adversarial stakeholders have markedly changed the marketing environment. Practitioners have traditionally been taught to focus on marketing the positive attributes of their brands and products to direct customers. The intent of this paper is to widen the discussion and argue that marketers may also need to explicitly plan on positioning to other stakeholders as well. Some of these macro stakeholders may be friendly to the firm and the marketer needs to supply them with the means to argue on the company‘s behalf. Others will be adversarial. 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