To Be or Not to Be Sorry? How CEO Gender Impacts the Effectiveness of Organizational Apologies. By: Cowen, Amanda P.; Montgomery, Nicole Votolato. Journal of Applied Psychology. Feb2020, Vol. 105 Issue 2, p196-208. 13p.

We examine whether consumer reactions to a product failure are affected by the gender of the CEO to whom the organization’s postfailure communications are attributed. We find that CEO gender and response type interact to affect both consumers’ perceptions of the organization, and their propensity to purchase from it following a product failure. Specifically, consumers’ reactions to unqualified apologies versus other types of accommodative responses do not differ when these responses are attributed to male CEOs. However, unqualified apologies are generally more successful for female CEOs than alternative responses. We show that such differences can be attenuated by increasing perceptions of a female CEO as agentic. We attribute these findings to consumers’ perceptions of how fairly they have been treated by an organization in the wake of a failure (i.e., interactional fairness). Our findings contribute to the crisis management literature by demonstrating how personal characteristics can shape the effectiveness of organizations’ crisis response strategies, thereby highlighting one implication of CEOs’ growing public visibility. In doing so, our findings also advance research on female CEOs and how gender-based expectations may impact organizational outcomes.