Commercial or communal: Why is outsourcing taboo for churches and pharmaceutical companies?

December 13, 2011

Consumers hold churches and pharmaceutical companies to different moral standards than other organizations, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

"Imagine the CEO of a pharmaceutical company who declares that he is in the business of maximizing shareholder profitability and fully intends to charge profit-maximizing prices for his company's offerings—and those prices should be very high because of limited competition," write authors Peter McGraw (University of Colorado Boulder), Janet A. Schwartz (Tulane University), and Philip E. Tetlock (University of Pennsylvania). Or what if outsourced backlogged prayer requests to priests in Third World countries in the name of efficiency?

Consumers would be outraged by such announcements, yet these types of profit- and efficiency-seeking behaviors are common practice in other types of organizations. Why do people hold some organizations to different standards? The authors found that consumers believe that some organizations (like churches and pharmaceutical companies) should be focused on communal rather than market-based principles.

The authors found that people expect and approve of communal behavior from churches (like hosting open-enrollment classes) and (ensuring access to drugs for the needy). But when participants perceived that the organizations were acting out of commercial interests (outsourcing prayers or setting drug prices high to maximize profits), they became disturbed. "One experiment, for example revealed moral outrage in response to a pharmaceutical company raising the price of a successful drug to make up for losses on the development of another drug," the authors write. "Yet a software company engaging in the same kind of marketing strategy elicited little negative reaction."

Organizations can communicate with consumers in ways that will help people understand their underlying motives. For example, participants were less upset with a church that outsourced prayers to India when the church pointed out that everyone is part of God's community and that Indian and U.S. priests are equals.

Explore further: Do stereotypes drive consumer purchases from for-profit or nonprofit organizations?

More information: Peter McGraw, Janet A. Schwartz, and Philip E. Tetlock. "From the Commercial to the Communal: Reframing Taboo Trade-offs in Religious and Pharmaceutical Marketing." Journal of Consumer Research: June 2012 (published online September 23, 2011).

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1.7 / 5 (11) Dec 13, 2011
U of C - STUPID WASTE OF TAXPAYER MONEY. Tuition keeps rising because of idiots who made this study.

Merry Christmas..... as I shake my head in disbelief at this studies stupidity.
Dec 13, 2011
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not rated yet Dec 13, 2011
I have to agree with both freethinking and bewertow.

First, if pharmaceuticals outsourced, it would be expected, not outrage. There are two reasons they don't:
1. access to highly educated professionals, high tech equipment, and reliable resources, such as electricity.
2. The US (And Europe) put a lot of money and effort into helping protect pharmaceutical interests. If they created a new effective drug in say, India, do you think India would allow them to charge 10k a month for that medication? nooooooo. India would force them to charge reasonable prices, or India would take the drug off their hands...

and Churches...Outsource prayer requests? Prayer requests are specifically so the person requesting can hear the preacher or church official pray about it with the congregation. Of course they would be outraged. And how would that be more efficient to outsource it? Just give it to an unpaid deacon if you are so concerned about a preacher's salary.
1 / 5 (6) Dec 13, 2011
My reason for laughing is how stupid does one need to be to associate the pharmaceutical industry outsourcing and Church pray outsourcing?

A praying outsourcing study done by a University??? Pray Tell, is this University run by progressives? Pray that this university starts outsourcing professors! The students in this university don't have a pray in getting a good education.

This so called study, done by progressive professor, was worth the read. Havent had such a laugh in a long time. But wait, Peter McGraw is affiated with the Humor research lab, no wonder this study is such a joke!

Merry Christmas,

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