Scholars market their ideas with writing, yet academic writing is notoriously difficult to understand. Why do scholars write unclearly, and how can they write in a way that better connects with readers? Our slides explain that scholars write unclearly in part because they forget that they know more about their research than readers, a phenomenon called “the curse of knowledge.” Knowledge, or familiarity with their own research, prompts scholars to use three practices that make their writing difficult to understand: abstraction, technical language, and passive writing. By knowing how and when to use abstraction, technical, and passive writing, scholars can market their research so that it is more likely to make an impact.
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Vadakkepatt, Gautham G., Sandeep Arora, Kelly D. Martin, and Neeru Paharia (2021), “Shedding Light on the Dark Side of Firm Lobbying: A Customer Perspective,” Journal of Marketing.
Firms spend a substantial amount on lobbying—devoting financial resources on teams of lobbyists to further their interests among regulatory stakeholders. Previous research acknowledges that lobbying positively influences firm value, but it has not examined the parallel effects for customers. Building on the attention-based view (ABV) of the firm, we examine these customer effects. Findings reveal that lobbying negatively affects customer satisfaction so that the positive relationship between lobbying and firm value is mediated by losses to customer satisfaction. These findings suggest a dark side of lobbying and challenge current thinking. However, several customer-focused moderators attenuate the negative effect of lobbying on customer satisfaction, predicted by ABV theory, including the CEO’s background (marketing vs. other functional area) and the firm’s strategic use of resources (advertising spending, R&D spending, or lobbying for product market issues). These moderators ensure consistency between lobbying and customer priorities or direct firm attention toward customers even while firms continue to lobby. Finally, we verify that lobbying reduces the firm’s customer focus by measuring this focus directly using text analysis of firm communications with shareholders. Collectively, the research provides managerial implications for navigating both lobbying activities and customer priorities, and public policy implications for lobbying disclosure requirements.
Special thanks to Holly Howe (Ph.D. candidate at Duke University) and Demi Oba (Ph.D. candidate at Duke University), for their support in working with authors on submissions to this program.
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