Previous research on stigma reduction has been primarily confined to single industries. While this approach is consistent with a view of moral assessments as enduring and context-specific, it clashes with the fact that industry boundaries are porous in the eyes of audience members, thus, it is not granted that they act as artificial confines to moral re-evaluations. Our paper addresses this puzzle and studies the conditions under which stigma reduction spills over to other industries. We propose that the evaluative spillovers induced by stigma reduction diffuse to other industries that share a vilifying label when: (a) they possess the morally approved attribute that underlies the reduction of stigma, and (b) the morally approved attribute is accompanied by procedures that ensure the desired purposes. Empirically, we focus our tests on the legalization of marijuana as a medicine in several US states during the period 2000-2015. We show that the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes generated evaluative spillovers to alcohol, particularly when the law was accompanied by a patient registration system that ensured procedural restrictions to limit the use of marijuana solely to medical purposes. As expected, these spillovers were not traced in “counterfactual” industries, such as tobacco, that shared the same vilifying label (i.e., ‘vice’ industries), but did not possess the morally approved attribute (i.e., ‘health-safety’).

Reference:

Ana M. Aranda, Raffaele Conti and Filippo Carlo Wezel. Distinct but not apart? Stigma reduction and cross-industry evaluative spillovers: The case of medical marijuana legalization, Academy of Management Journal, first published 10 August, 2020. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2018.1460