When corporations respond to terror attacks with acts of kindness—and when they don't

phys.org | 8/20/2019 | Staff
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In November 2015, when terrorists armed with firearms and explosives killed 130 people in Paris, France, a number of companies responded to the horror with compassion. A variety of cellphone carriers lifted service fees and waived charges to enable people to contact loved ones. Airbnb encouraged hosts to offer free housing for those whose flights had been canceled.

But as a rule, says Northeastern professor Max Abrahms, companies around the world do not always react generously to terrorist attacks. "It turns out that companies respond to terrorism selfishly," says Abrahms, who has joined with two fellow Northeastern professors to author the first study of the relationship between terrorism and the responsibility of corporations to invest in and elevate society.

Researchers - Dichotomy - Reactions - Companies - Acts

The researchers unearthed a dichotomy in the reactions by companies to acts of terrorism. When governments or communities are the targets of terrorism, the study finds that companies often go above and beyond. Such was the case after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when a diverse group of corporations and banks offered financial assistance to customers and others who had been affected throughout the U.S.

"If the government or the community is impacted, they feel a sense of belonging and ownership within the community," co-author Elizabeth Moore says of American corporations in general. "So they serve as that void-filler."

Countries - Attacks - Examples - Iraq - Syria

In countries where attacks are more widespread—Abrahms cites the examples of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Libya, Yemen, and Pakistan—businesses may view themselves as targets of terrorism. In those cases, the study finds that companies react to their vulnerability by withdrawing from acts of social responsibility.

The study found companies in Mexico and Colombia reacting...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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