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Business & Entrepreneurship

Business Experts Say FedEx and UPS Fight Over NRA Won't Win Over Public

March 2, 2018

Cell phone with grades showing

A panel of business experts say the latest fight between FedEx and UPS over their relationship with the National Rifle Association (NRA) won’t help either company win over the public. FedEx has stated it will keep its discount for NRA members, breaking with other companies who eliminated such discounts after the Parkland School shooting. While UPS has never had a discount for NRA members, the company has said it will continue delivering NRA products.  

The panel of business experts was asked to grade the two companies. They gave FedEx a “C-” and UPS a “B-” for their respective actions and statements.

The Real Time Expert Poll © involves a panel of experts hailing from 39 world-renowned universities, including Oxford, Cornell, Columbia, INSEAD, Georgetown, Princeton and University of Pennsylvania. The panel periodically grades companies that take political stands, and also rates those companies on their transparency, consistency and other dimensions. The poll is administered by Drexel’s Institute for Strategic Leadership in partnership with the American Marketing Association.

A total of 21 professors participated in this edition of the poll. Grades from panelists ranged from “A” to “F.” The average grades were calculated using a standard GPA calculation. For FedEx, the grades corresponded closely with the political leaning of the panelist, with left-leaning professors more negative than right leaning ones. Grades for UPS and FedEx were comparable in most respects, except that FedEx was graded more harshly by left-leaning panelists.  

“Both companies appear to have been caught off-guard on this issue,” says Daniel Korschun, PhD, an associate professor at Drexel’s LeBow College of Business, and lead administrator of the poll. “In what appears to be lack of foresight, both FedEx and UPS have been forced to mitigate risk rather than reaffirm a longer-term strategy.”

graph of Key Indicators

Panelists pointed out that neither company is making their motivations clear. There is “no articulation of why they are taking either stand,” said one panelist. “I’m not sure how it fits their mission.”

Opinions among panelists were more divided for FedEx. One panelist applauded FedEx for doubling down on its commitment to customers, saying, “it takes a lot of courage for FedEx is keep political issues out of its decision making.” But another panelist questioned why FedEx would give discounts for NRA members, and then act as if removing them would somehow be ‘discriminatory.’ According to a third panelist, FedEx is linking itself to values many will see as problematic in the long-term.

“Overall, these expert opinions suggest that the companies’ reactive stances and public sparring are unlikely to win over much of the public,” said Korschun. “In the end, the greatest beneficiaries may be competitors such as DHL and the US Post Office.”

Similar polls will be administered periodically when a company takes a public stand on a political issue. Panelists self-report their political leaning as liberal, middle of the road, or conservative. More details about the initiative, as well as a complete list of panelists (with contact information) is available at Questions about the poll, and requests to interview panelists, can be directed to Dr. Korschun at