The stigmatization of bankrupt entrepreneurs in Dutch newspapers

We examine to what extent bankrupt entrepreneurs are stigmatized in the mass media. Based on a decade of newspaper articles, we show that while overall the level of stigmatization is lower than expected based on popular belief, stigmatization increases in the years with many bankruptcies, and in the months following a prominent bankruptcy. These differences are caused by the distinctions made by journalists between entrepreneurs in charge of large and small firms respectively as villains responsible for the bankruptcy and its consequences, or as hard-working victims of the system. Findings are explained in terms of experienced peril and cultural factors.

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