The visible hand
TIM COHEN: The delicate art of saying sorry
Generally, people seem to like apologies that have a cost associated with them, even if that cost is simply taking a knock to your reputation
There has been a lot of apologising going on. Judging by what is coming up at the Zondo and Nugent commissions, there may need to be more. A host of companies in SA apologised recently including KPMG, McKinsey, Bell Pottinger, just to name a few. But how should companies apologise? Interestingly, a company recently undertook the most extensive field study on the subject that has perhaps not been done before. That company is ride-sharing company Uber, and its findings are in some ways very logical and in others surprising. They are very surprising because they illustrate how ineffective, and perhaps even counterproductive apologising can be in certain circumstances, but also how saying sorry can help. What happened in Uber is now something of an urban legend. Uber’s economist (weird they have one, but there it is), John List, whose main employer is the University of Chicago, had to give a presentation in 2017 at the American Economic Association meeting in Chicago. He got into an Ube...