Uber Technologies: Wrongdoing and Corporate Reputations
(8 pages of text)
Case (Pub Mat)
In September 2017, Uber Technologies Inc. hired a new chief executive officer with instructions to prepare the company for an initial public offering and repair its internal culture and reputation. By the end of 2019, however, the company’s past wrongdoings were continuing to haunt the organization. The new leader had to deal with ongoing legal issues related to driver classification and a new ruling in the US state of California that would require drivers to be paid minimum wage and receive sick days and health benefits. The company also faced accusations by a former manager who claimed that employees had engaged in questionable tactics to steal trade secrets. The public learned that the company had paid US$100,000 to hackers to conceal a November 2016 data breach, which exposed the personal information of 57 million riders and drivers. In July 2019, Uber Technologies Inc. came under investigation by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over accusations of gender discrimination. Later that year, its licence to operate in London, UK was revoked. Almost 18 months into the new leader’s tenure, the path to repairing the company’s character reputation and struggling market value was still not clear.
This case is suitable for undergraduate- and graduate-level courses on general strategy, corporate social responsibility, or business ethics. The case investigates wrongdoing in both a market and non-market context, and the influence of wrongdoing on the formation of corporate reputation. Students are challenged to understand the difference between market and non-market (or character) reputation and how wrongdoing influences this complex relationship. The case challenges students to understand how a company’s reputation for market value and its reputation for company character change over time, sometimes in opposite directions. Students are asked to consider if a new chief executive officer can turn around a company’s negative character reputation. Grounded in theory on corporate reputation, the case illustrates how reputation is a complex construct that exists in both the marketplace of ideas and the marketplace of goods and services. After working through the case and assignment questions, students will be able to
- understand how reputations are formed over time;
- identify acts of wrongdoing in both a market versus non-market context;
- analyze the impact of wrongdoing on the formation of reputation over time, within the two contexts (market versus non-market); and
- determine pathways to alter reputations over time.
Information, Media & Telecommunications
United States, Large, 2019
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