Bentley College Marketing- Honors

This blog is for MK 402-H01 and the greater Bentley College population.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Take the Blame

This week I decided to switch back to reporting on a blog posting by Spike Jones, “Take the Blame,” on Brains on Fire. In this posting he references an article in the April issue of Business 2.0. I did find a small discrepancy when I was searching for the original article. When Spike provides the name of the article in his posting, he says it was “Double Down on Execs Who Own Up,” by Jeffery Pfeffer; however, I could not find any articles by this name. The article I did find gave the same companies as examples and was by the same author but was entitled “Why It Pays To Invest in Bosses Who Blame Themselves.” It is possible that Jeffery Pfeffer may have changed the title or that these are two separate articles on the same topic. In any case, I am going to assume for this blog posting that the article Spike references and the article I read are the same.

In both the article and Spike’s blog posting, they discuss the idea that when companies fail or make mistakes, these companies and more specifically CEOs should step up and take the blame. Jeffery Pfeffer provides three perfect examples of companies that decided to put the blame elsewhere and in turn performed poorly. One example involved the CEO of When the company’s “share price began plunging last year, CEO Patrick Byrne infamously declared it the result of a conspiracy among Wall Street short-sellers.” With all of the examples regarding companies that have tried to blame their mistakes on others, there are also some examples of companies that have gotten it right. In 2001, Anne Mulcahy became Xerox’s CEO and “told Wall Street that the company’s business model was flawed. Then she explained to employees the challenges they faced, the first step in a remarkable turnaround at Xerox.” I agree with both Spike Jones and Jeffery Pfeffer. If a company cannot own up to its mistakes, then it cannot make the changes necessary to turn the company around.

What makes this blog posting marketing related, is the fact that a company who can take the blame and own up to its mistakes will in turn improve its relationship with customers and its brand image. Placing the blame on outside factors is an “ineffective customer service strategy: Numerous studies have shown that consumers value an admission of failure and an apology.”

Spike Jones informs marketing by shedding light on an ethical issue that is on the surface incredibly simple, but in practice difficult to deal with. It is much easier for a company to avoid dealing with internal problems; however, in the end the internal problems will worsen along with the company’s reputation and public image.

Spike Jones aided in improving my understanding of marketing by giving me a fresh look at ethical issues in a corporation including the spreading of blame for one’s mistakes. In the past few weeks we have been discussing the possible ethical issues that we may experience first hand after graduation and I think that this is a prime example.

It is difficult for me to think of a critique about Spike’s blog posting, other than the fact that I believe there may be a mix-up with the title of the article referenced, but I would have to say that there was a lack of examples in this posting. Additionally, the blog posting was short and although it did include his opinion it could have included more reflection from Spike Jones.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"When the company’s 'share price began plunging last year, CEO Patrick Byrne infamously declared it the result of a conspiracy among Wall Street short-sellers.'"

This is false. Give an example.

Thursday, April 13, 2006 8:52:00 PM  
Blogger John Cass said...

This posting was very encouraging. bloggers talk a lot about transparency on a blog. I think the issue works just as well in a wider company context. If your company has problems face up to them and admit them. You can then move onto addressing the issues.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006 12:36:00 PM  

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