Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Marketing (Business Administration)

First Advisor

Richard G. Netemeyer

Second Advisor

Abhijit Biswas


This dissertation examines the impact of negative events and firm responses to such events on an associative network of brand knowledge; key consumer brand and organizational associations, risk perceptions, and brand response variables. To accomplish this objective the issue of how negative event information is integrated with an existing brand/organizational image was assessed within the framework of a consumer-brand relationship. Two between-subjects experiments were conducted using adult consumers as subjects. In Study One, negative events were found to affect associations linked to the brand and limit the brand's ability to fulfill the consumer-brand relationship. Two types of events were identified, product-related events and organization-related events. Product-related events involve specific product attributes and call into question the ability of the brand to meet functional needs. Organization-related events do not involve product attributes, but rather are values-oriented events that might involve social or ethical issues. Product-related events were found to primarily impact associations (i.e., quality, corporate ability) linked to functional benefits and functional risk. Organization-related events were found to affect associations (i.e., corporate social responsibility, brand sincerity) linked more closely to symbolic and experiential benefits and social and psychological risk. While both types of events impacted brand response variables, a product-related event had a greater impact on important brand response variables. Study Two examined the effectiveness of three firm responses in restoring damaged associations and brand response. These image restoration strategies were assessed from the consumer's perspective utilizing cognitive response, source credibility, and attribution theories. A denial strategy was found to be least effective due to source derogation and counterarguments of the firm being motivated by self-interest. A reduction of offensiveness strategy was found to be effective only for an organization-related event. A corrective action strategy was found to be the most effective response given a product-related event due to handling functional risk concerns associated with a product-related event. In general the results are consistent with the conceptualization of brand knowledge as an associative network of information and the predictions drawn from theory. The dissertation concludes by providing the key theoretical and managerial implications of the dissertation.