HKS Authors

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Firms are increasingly giving consumers the vote. Eight studies show that, when firms empower consumers to vote, consumers infer a series of implicit promises—even in the absence of explicit promises. We identify three implicit promises to which consumers react negatively when violated: representation (Experiments 1A–1C), consistency (Experiment 2), and nonsuppression (Experiment 3). However, when firms honor these implicit promises, voting can mitigate the disappointment that arises from receiving an undesired outcome (Experiment 4). Finally, Experiment 5 identifies one instance when suppressing the vote outcome is condoned: when voters believe that the process of voting has resulted in an unacceptable outcome. More generally, we show that procedural justice plays a key mediating role in determining the relative success or failure of various empowerment initiatives—from soliciting feedback to voting. Taken together, we offer insight into how firms can realize the benefits of empowerment strategies while mitigating their risks.


Kim, Tami, Leslie John, Todd Rogers, and Michael Norton. "Procedural Justice and the Risks of Consumer Voting." Management Science 65.11 (November 2019): 5234-5251.