Cashing in on the culture wars? CEO activism, wokewashing, and firm value

Gaia Melloni, Andrea Patacconi, Nick Vikander

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6 Citations (Scopus)
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In this article, we examine under what conditions CEO activism—the practice of corporate leaders to take public stances on sociopolitical issues—can create firm value. In our model consumers care about the type of firm they buy from, but also understand that corporate leaders can make false or misleading statements to pander to valuable demographics. We show that, although the profitability of CEO activism is severely compromised by this wokewashing, under some conditions credible, value-enhancing sociopolitical communications can still take place. We characterize (i) when corporate leaders prefer to stay silent; (ii) when wokewashing is so widespread that no credible communication is possible; and (iii) when instead some credible communication can take place. We also show how an intrinsically motivated CEO can destroy or increase firm value.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3098-3121
Number of pages24
JournalStrategic Management Journal
Issue number13
Early online date25 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


  • CEO activism
  • cheap talk
  • strategic communication
  • wokewashing

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