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The literature shows that, in the wake of negative media exposition, organizations’ self-regulation tends to be strengthened. We investigate such motivation from the perspective of the psychosocial consequences in executives’ and organizational self-confidence. A grounded-theory approach supports findings from 27 different events described by top-level executives from major publicly traded organizations. Their testimonies document that scandalous episodes, when they occur, leave a trauma footprint within the organizational and individual consciousness because of the perceived post-event humiliation, remorse, guilt, and fear. The paradigm of reliance and trust in the designed structures is severely altered. In turn, a climate of excessive self-regulation explains the recovery from the traumatic experience. New boundaries for regulatory balance, also called “the confidence zone,” exists until design changes coalesce with organizational blame to create the perception that reputational safety has been achieved. Fears of subsequent media scrutiny are mitigated by the perception of moral safety based on governance. Consequently, the over-regulatory response comprises the organizations’ healing process as they recover from the psychosocial trauma caused by media exposition.

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Corporate Reputation Review

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This is the author accepted manuscript version of the article:

Jimenez-Andrade, J.R., Fogarty, T.J. & Boland, R.J. Post-scandal Organizational (Dis)order: A Grounded-Theory Approach Shifting from Murphy’s Law to Safer Regulatory Environments. Corp Reputation Rev (2021).

Available for download on Friday, April 08, 2022