We survey a representative sample of the U.S. population to understand stakeholders’ desire to see their firms exit Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. 61% of respondents think that firms should exit Russia, regardless of the consequences. Only 37% think that leaving Russia is a purely business decision. If a firm does not conform with these desires, 66% of the respondents are willing to boycott it. This desire diminishes with the costs they face in boycotting. At $500, 43% would want to boycott. This propensity to boycott is high, even for participants who are told they have no impact, suggesting strong deontological concerns. Nevertheless, it is difficult to separate deontological and consequentialist motives to boycott, because subjects’ beliefs about “impact” are highly correlated with their willingness to act “whatever the consequences”. When we randomize beliefs about impact, we find a clear effect for shareholders, but not for the other stakeholders. We discuss what are the geopolitical and economic implications of a world where private corporations may discontinue profitable business relationships for moral or political reasons.
Fiona Paine and Giuditta Perinelli provided excellent research assistance. We thank Agustin Hurtado, Kobi Kastiel, Louis Kaplow, Anete Pajuste, Lubos Pastor, and seminar participants at Harvard Law School. Hoover Institute, MIT, and the University of Chicago for very useful comments. Zingales acknowledges financial support from MIT Sloan and the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.