This manuscript reviews and synthesizes most of the major research studies in the area of consumer ethics that have appeared since 1990. It examines both conceptual and empirical works with an objective of encouraging researchers to pursue research in the consumer ethics area. Toward this end, the paper also suggests directions for future research.
This article presents the results of a study that investigated the roles that religiosity and ones money ethic play in determining consumer attitudes/beliefs in various situations regarding questionable consumer practices. One dimension of religiosity – intrinsic religiousness – was studied. Four separate dimensions of a money ethic scale were initially examined, but only one was used in the final analyses. Results indicated that both intrinsic religiousness and one’s money ethic were significant determinants of most types of consumer ethical beliefs.
This paper addresses a significant gap in the conceptualization of business ethics within different cultural influences. Though theoretical models of business ethics have recognized the importance of culture in ethical decision-making, few have examinedhow this influences ethical decision-making. Therefore, this paper develops propositions concerning the influence of various cultural dimensions on ethical decision-making using Hofstede''s typology.
Business and marketing ethics have come to the forefront in recent years. While consumers have been surveyed regarding their perceptions of ethical business and marketing practices, research has been minimal with regard to their ethical beliefs and ideologies. This research investigates general attitudes of consumers relative to business, government and people in general, and compares these attitudes to their beliefs concerning various questionable consumer practices. The results show that consumers'' ethical beliefs are determined, in part, by who is at fault (...) in the unethical behavior (the seller or the buyer). The results also indicate that those with a more positive attitude toward business are less likely to engage in questionable consumer practices, but one''s attitudes toward salespeople, the government and people in general arenot related to the consumer''s ethical beliefs. (shrink)
This exploratory study of ethical decision making by individuals in organizations found moral intensity, as defined by Jones (1991), to significantly influence ethical decision making intentions of managers. Moral intensity explained 37% and 53% of the variance in ethical decision making in two decision-making scenarios. In part, the results of this research support our theoretical understanding of ethical/unethical decision-making and serve as a foundation for future research.
This article presents the results of a study that investigated the roles that one’s money ethic, religiosity and attitude toward business play in determining consumer attitudes/beliefs in various situations regarding questionable consumer practices. Two dimensions of religiosity – intrinsic and extrinsic religiousness – were studied. A global scale of money ethic was examined, as was a global measure of attitude toward business. Results indicate that both types of religiosity as well as one’s money ethic and attitude toward business were significant (...) determinants of at least some types of consumer ethical beliefs. (shrink)
Marketers must first perceive ethics and social responsibility to be important before their behaviors are likely to become more ethical and reflect greater social responsibility. However, little research has been conducted concerning marketers' perceptions regarding the importance of ethics and social responsibility as components of business decisions. The purpose of this study is to develop a reliable and valid scale for measuring marketers' perceptions regarding the importance of ethics and social responsibility. The authors develop an instrument for the measurement of (...) the perceived role of ethics and social responsibility (PRESOR). Evidence that the scale is valid is presented through the assessment of scale reliability, as well as content and predictive validity. Finally, future research needs and the value of this construct to marketing are discussed. (shrink)
This article presents the results of a study that investigated the role that religiosity plays in determining consumer attitudes/beliefs regarding various questionable consumer practices. Additionally, other personal factors were examined including idealism, relativism, consumer alienation and selected demographics such as income and age. All of these constructs were examined as antecedents of consumer ethical beliefs. The results of a post hoc analysis indicated that religiosity was a significant determinate of both idealism and relativism, and since idealism and relativism determine consumer (...) ethical beliefs, religiosity is a significant indirect determinate of consumer ethical beliefs. (shrink)
This study compares college students with other adults in terms of the Muncy–Vitell (1992) consumer ethics scale. Further, the study updates the Muncy–Vitell consumer ethics scale with modifications that include rewording and the addition of new items. These new items can be grouped into three distinct categories – (1) downloading/buying counterfeit goods, (2) recycling/environmental awareness and (3) doing the right thing/doing good. The study also compares these two groups in terms of their attitude toward business. Results show that there is (...) indeed a significant difference between these two groups in terms of ethical perceptions, but not in terms of the “recycling” items and the “doing good” items. There was also little difference between the groups in terms of their attitude toward business indicating that attitude toward business does not explain their different ethical perspectives. (shrink)
This two country study examines the effect of corporate ethical values and enforcement of a code of ethics on perceptions of the role of ethics in the overall success of the firm. Additionally, the impact of organizational commitment and of individual variables such as ethical idealism and relativism was examined. The rationale for examining the perceived importance of the role of ethics in this manner is to determine the extent to which the organization itself can influence employee perceptions regarding ethics (...) and social responsibility. Results indicate that all of the variables tested, except relativism, impacted upon one’s perceptions of the importance of ethics and social responsibility. Perceptions of the importance of ethics and social responsibility also varied depending upon country of residence with the U.S. sample having somewhat higher perceptions concerning the importance of ethics and social responsibility than their counterparts in Spain. Furthermore, when comparing the two samples, the U.S. sample had significantly higher corporate ethical values, greater enforcement of ethical codes, less organizational commitment and both lower idealism and relativism. (shrink)
Business and especially marketing ethics have come to the forefront in recent years. While consumers have been surveyed regarding their perceptions of ethical business and marketing practices, research has been minimal with regard to their perceptions of ethical consumer practices. In addition, few studies have examined the ethical beliefs of elderly consumers even though they are an important and rapidly growing segment. This research investigates the relationship between Machiavellianism, ethical ideology and ethical beliefs for elderly consumers. The results indicate that (...) elderly consumers, while generally being more ethical than younger consumers, are diverse in their eithical beliefs. (shrink)
This article presents the results of an exploratory study that investigated the role that religiosity plays in determining consumer attitudes/beliefs in various situations regarding questionable consumer practices. Two dimensions of religiosity – intrinsic and extrinsic religiousness – were studied. Results indicated that an intrinsic religiousness was a significant determinant of consumer ethical beliefs, but extrinsic religiousness was not related to those beliefs.
This article presents the results of a study that investigated the roles that one's money ethic, religiosity and attitude toward business play in determining consumer attitudes/beliefs in various situations regarding questionable consumer practices. Two dimensions of religiosity - intrinsic and extrinsic religiousness - were studied. A global scale of money ethic was examined, as was a global measure of attitude toward business. Results indicate that both types of religiosity as well as one's money ethic and attitude toward business were significant (...) determinants of at least some types of consumer ethical beliefs. (shrink)
In 1949 Culliton noted that "... religion has something to offer business" (Culliton, 1949, p. 265). While religion definitely does have something to offer business, especially business ethics, it is only recently that empirical research linking religiosity and business ethics has been conducted. Indeed, religiosity affords a background, against which the ethical nature of business, including marketing and consumer behavior, can be interpreted. This article offers a descriptive, rather than normative, perspective in reviewing articles linking religion to business and consumer (...) ethics. The main objective of the article being both to present some of the most significant empirical findings to date and also to encourage researchers to pursue further research in this relatively under researched area. (shrink)
The present study examines the relationships between consumers'' ethical beliefs and personality traits. Based on a survey of 295 undergraduate business students, the authors found that individuals with high needs for autonomy, innovation, and aggression, as well as individuals with a high propensity for taking risks tend to have less ethical beliefs concerning possible consumer actions. Individuals with a high need for social desirability and individuals with a strong problem solving coping style tend to have more ethical beliefs concerning possible (...) consumer actions. The needs for achievement, affiliation, complexity and an emotion solving coping style were not significantly correlated with consumer ethical beliefs. (shrink)
What causes adolescents to develop consumer’ ethical beliefs? Prior research has largely focused on the negative influence of peers and negative patterns of parent–child interactions to explain risky and unethical consumer behaviors. We take a different perspective by focusing on the positive support of parents and peers in adolescent social development. An integrative model is developed that links parental and peer support with adolescents’ self-worth motives, their materialistic tendencies, and their consumer ethical beliefs. In a study of 984 adolescents, we (...) demonstrate support for a sequential mediation model in which peer and parental support is positively related to adolescents’ self-esteem and feelings of power, which are each associated with decreased materialism as a means of compensating for low self-worth. This reduced materialism is, in turn, associated with more ethical consumer beliefs. (shrink)
This study examined the effect of various antecedent variables on marketers’ perceptions of the role of ethics and socialresponsibility in the overall success of the firm. Variables examined included Hofstede’s cultural dimensions , as well as corporate ethical values and enforcement ofan ethics code. Additionally, individual variables such as ethical idealism and relativism were included. Results indicated that most ofthese variables impacted marketers’ perceptions of the importance of ethics and social responsibility, although to varying degrees.
This paper presents the responses of 118 executives to a mail survey which examined their views of business ethics and various business practices. In addition to identifying various sources of ethical conflict, current business practices are also examined with respect to how ethical or unethical each is believed to be. Results are also presented which outline executive responses to four ethical business situations. Overall conclusions to the study are outlined, as well as future research needs.
Research investigating the consumer's ethical beliefs, ideologies and orientation has been limited. Additionally, despite the repeated call in the literature for cross cultural research, virtually no studies have examined the ethical beliefs and ideologies of consumers from cultures other than those in North America. This study partially fills this gap in the literature by investigating the ethical beliefs, preferred ethical ideology, and degree of Machiavellianism of consumers from Egypt and Lebanon. The results indicate that consumers in Lebanon, which has been (...) torn by civil unrest and terrorism, tend to be more Machiavellian, less idealistic, and more relativistic than their Egyptian counterparts. Additionally, the Lebanese consumers tend to be more accepting of questionable consumer practices. (shrink)
Given increasing ethical problems in business, many organizations have tried to control these problems by institutionalizing ethics such as by creating new ethics positions and formulating and enforcing codes of ethics. In this study, the impact of implicit and explicit forms of institutionalization of ethics on job satisfaction, esprit de corps, and organizational commitment for marketing professionals is investigated. Additionally, the influence of organizational socialization, ethical relativism, and age relative to each of the above organizational climate constructs is examined. Results (...) indicate that at least one of the forms of institutionalization of ethics is a significant determinant of all three organizational climate constructs. However, while organizational socialization is a significant determinant of all three organizational climate variables, relativism is only significant in determining organizational commitment (in a negative direction) and age is only significant in determining job satisfaction. (shrink)
Most of the academic research in the field of consumer ethics has focused on the cognitive antecedents and processes of unethical consumer behavior. However, the specific roles of discrete emotions such as fear have not yet been investigated thoroughly. This research examines the role of the need for cognition, the three affective responses—fear, power, and excitement—and perceived issue importance on moral intensity, ethical perceptions, and ethical intentions for four types of unethical consumer behaviors. A sample of consumers from the two (...) cities of Alexandria and Cairo, Egypt participated in the survey. Most research hypotheses were supported. NFC, issue importance, and affect variables were all predictors of moral intensity, ethical perceptions, and ethical intentions in four different consumer ethics scenarios. The specific predictors varied from one consumer ethics scenario to another, however. (shrink)
The impact of “love of money” on different aspects of consumers’ ethical beliefs has been investigated by previous research. In this study we investigate the potential impact of “love of money” on a manager’s ethical decision-making in marketing. Another objective of the current study is to investigate the potential impacts of extrinsic and intrinsic religiosity on ethical marketing decision-making. We also include ethical judgments as an element of ethical decision-making. We found “love of money”, both dimensions of religiosity, and ethical (...) judgment to have significant impacts on ethical intentions in a marketing situation. In addition to providing an important contribution to the business ethics literature, the findings also have important managerial implications. (shrink)
This article presents the results of a cross-cultural study that examines the relationship between spirituality and a consumer’s ethical predisposition, and further examines the relationship between the internalization of one’s moral identity and a consumer’s ethical predisposition. Finally, the moderating impact of cultural factors on the above relationships is tested using Hofstede’s five dimensions. Data were gathered from young adult, well-educated consumers in five different countries, namely the U.S., France, Spain, India, and Egypt. The results indicate that the more spiritual (...) an individual consumer is, the more likely that consumer is to be ethically predisposed. Furthermore, the stronger one’s internalization of a moral identity, the more likely one is to be ethically predisposed. These two relationships are further moderated by Hofstede’s cultural factors such as the degree of collectivism versus individualism in the culture. However, the strength and direction of the moderation may vary depending upon the specific Hofstede dimension. (shrink)
This study explores the ethical ideologies and ethical beliefs of African American consumers using the Forsyth ethical position questionnaire and the Muncy-Vitell consumer ethics questionnaire. The two dimensions of the EPQ were the independent constructs and the four dimensions of the MVQ were the dependent variables. In addition, this paper explores the consumer ethics of African Americans across four demographic factors. A sample of 315 African American consumers was used to explore these relationships. Results confirmed that consumers who score high (...) on the idealism scale are more likely to reject questionable consumer activities, but there was no relationship between relativism and consumers' rejection of questionable activities. Older, more educated and married consumers rejected questionable activities more than younger, less educated and single consumers. Gender did not have any significant relationship to consumers' ethical orientation. (shrink)
The relationship between ethics and job satisfaction for MIS professionals is examined empirically. Five dimensions of job satisfaction are examined: (1) satisfaction with pay, (2) satisfaction with promotions, (3) satisfaction with co-workers, (4) satisfaction with supervisors and (5) satisfaction with the work itself. These dimensions of satisfaction are compared to top management's ethical stance, one's overall sense of social responsibility and an ethical optimism scale (i.e., the degree of optimism that one has concerning the positive relationship between ethics and success (...) in his/her company).Results indicate that MIS professionals are more satisfied with the various dimensions of their jobs when top management stresses ethical behavior and when they are optimistic about the relationship between ethics and success within their firms. The one exception to this is pay satisfaction which is unrelated to these constructs. One's sense of social responsibility is also relatively unrelated to job satisfaction. (shrink)
Ethics has assumed a dominant position in the current economic debate, and this study focuses on ethics as a legitimate underpinning to good business decision making. Using a self-response survey of marketing managers in Spain, the current theory on ethical decision making is extended. Results support the mediating influence of the PRESOR construct (an individual’s perception of the importance of ethics and social responsibility for the effectiveness of the organization) on relativistic and idealistic moral thinking when one is considering the (...) moral intensity of a situation. In addition, the study found support for the relationship between relativism (negative), idealism (positive), corporate ethical values, and job satisfaction, thereby providing additional support for the prior theory. Finally, a thorough review of the extant literature and suggestions for future ethics research in the marketing field are included. (shrink)
The frequency and opportunity for unethical behavior by MIS professionals is examined empirically. In addition, the importance of top management's ethical stance, one's sense of social responsibility and the existence of codes of ethics in determining perceptions of the frequency and opportunity for unethical behavior are tested.Results indicate that MIS professionals are perceived as having the opportunity to engage in unethical practices, but that they seldom do so. Additionally, successful MIS professionals are perceived as ethical. Finally, while company codes of (...) ethics were uncommon, top management was seen as supporting high ethical standards. (shrink)
Although various factors have been studied for their influence on consumers’ ethical judgments, the role of incidental emotions has received relatively less attention. Recent research in consumer behavior has focused on studying the effect of specific incidental emotions on various aspects of consumer decision making. This paper investigates the effect of two negative, incidental emotional states of anger and fear on ethical judgment in a consumer context using a passive unethical behavior scenario. The paper presents two experimental studies. Study 1 (...) focuses on the interaction of moral intensity and incidental emotion state in predicting the ethical judgment while study 2 investigates the underlying causal mechanism behind the process, using a mediation analysis. The results reveal a significant interaction between moral intensity and incidental emotion. Specifically, individuals in the state of incidental fear exhibit higher levels of ethical judgment as the moral intensity increases as compared to individuals in the state of incidental anger. Further, perceived control is found to mediate the relationship between emotional state and ethical judgment under higher moral intensity condition. (shrink)
The children’s market has become significantly more important to marketers in recent years. They have been spending increasing amounts on advertising, particularly of food and beverages, to reach this segment. At the same time, there is a critical debate among parents, government agencies, and industry experts as to the ethics of food advertising practices aimed toward children. The␣present study examines parents’ ethical views of food advertising targeting children. Findings indicate that parents’ beliefs concerning at least some dimensions of moral intensity (...) are significantly related to their ethical judgments and behavioral intentions of food advertising targeting children as well as the perceived moral intensity of the situation. (shrink)
Marketing research on adolescents’ ethical predispositions and risky behaviors has focused primarily on individual difference variables. The present study, in contrast, examines the social network positions that an adolescent occupies within a group. A survey of 984 adolescents demonstrates that EP and RB stem from a balance between assimilation and individuation. In particular, we show that adolescents with close first-degree relationships within a specific peer group and/or high need for uniqueness have lower EP and engage in more RB, while adolescents (...) that are more central to the entire network have higher EP. The theoretic and practical implications of these findings are discussed. (shrink)
As more and more multi-national companies expand their operations globally, their responsibilities extend beyond not only the economic motive of profitability but also other social and environmental factors. The objective of this article is to examine the impact of national culture and geographic environment on firms’ corporate social performance (CSP). Empirical tests are based on a global CSP database of companies from 49 countries. Results show that the Hofstede’s cultural dimensions are significantly associated with CSP. In addition, European companies are (...) found to out-perform other regions and countries in CSP. (shrink)
The contention that organizational culture influences ethical decision making is not disputable. However, the extent to which it influences ethical decision making in the workplace is a topic for scholarly debate and investigation. There are scholars who argue that, though corporate values are a powerful force in explaining the behavior of individuals and groups within organizations, these values are unperceived, unspoken, and taken for granted. However, there are others who argue that the formalization of corporate values facilitates job and role (...) clarity and is the key to influencing employee behavior. The purpose of this study is to examine the extent of the influence of organizational codes of ethics. The findings suggest that, depending upon the particular situation, corporate culture and ethics may mitigate individual personal moral convictions about right and wrong. (shrink)
Past research has examined the ethical judgments of consumers in the U.S., but few studies have investigated such attitudes in foreign-market settings. The current study compares ethical attitudes of consumers in two countries (Ireland and Lebanon) which share a cultural similarity of ongoing war and terrorism. The findings reveal that both cultures exhibit low sensitivity to ethical issues. Furthermore, the findings show that the Irish consumers are less sensitive to consumer ethical practices, less idealistic, more relativistic, and more Machiavellian than (...) Lebanese consumers. The authors recommend that other researchers need to further investigate this perplexing issue because ethics is a research topic which often discourages survey respondents to be candid. (shrink)
This study investigates the role that moral identity, religiosity, and the institutionalization of ethics play in determining the extent of justification of norm violating behavior among business practitioners. Moral justification is where a person, rather than assuming responsibility for an outcome, attempts to legitimize ethically questionable behavior. Results of the study indicate that both the internalization and symbolization dimensions of moral identity as well as intrinsic religiosity and the explicit institutionalization of ethics within the organization are significant determinants of the (...) moral justification of unethical behaviors. (shrink)
This paper presents the results of a national study of the beliefs and perceptions of small business professionals concerning ethics within their company and business in general. The study examined their views on the relationship between success and ethical conduct as well as the extent and nature of ethical conflicts experienced by the respondents. Some comparisons are made with similar studies that have been conducted in the past. Respondents have the most ethical conflicts with customers and employees, and with regard (...) to honesty in contracts/agreements. Most also believe that ethical standards are lower than they were 10 and 20 years ago, primarily because society's moral standards are lower. Additionally, they believe that the behavior of top management has the most influence on decisions in ethical situations. Finally, consistent with prior studies, they believe that they have the most responsibility to customers, ahead of employees and stockholders. (shrink)
Growth of the Hispanic consumer population in America is changing the marketplace landscape. Due to their considerable buying power, a better understanding of Hispanic consumer behavior has become a necessity. The marketing literature has examined issues regarding religiosity and attitude toward business in regards to consumer ethical beliefs as well as research differentiating consumers on the basis of ethnicity due to their inherently different religious principles. Therefore, the present study contributes to the existing consumer ethics literature by examining the roles (...) of religiosity and attitude toward business in determining consumer ethical beliefs. Furthermore, this study compares the relationships among religiosity, attitude toward business, and ethical beliefs at the sub-cultural level (i.e., between Hispanic and Anglo-American consumers). Survey data compare a sample of 187 predominately Catholic Hispanic consumers with a sample of 127 predominately protestant Anglo consumers. Results suggest a positive relationship between intrinsic religiousness and beliefs that questionable consumer activities are unethical. However, extrinsic religiousness does not impact consumer views as to the ethicality of consumer practices. Hispanics exhibit higher levels of extrinsic religiousness than Anglos, but no difference in terms of their intrinsic religiousness. Results also suggest that Hispanics have a more negative attitude toward business than Anglos do. Implications of these results are discussed. (shrink)
This article presents two studies that examine cause-related marketing promotions that require consumers’ active participation. Requiring a follow-up behavior has very valuable implications for maximizing marketing expenditures and customer relationship management. Theories related to ethical behavior, like motivated reasoning and defensive denial, are used to explain when and why consumers respond negatively to these effort demands. The first study finds that consumers rationalize not participating in CRM by devaluing the sponsored cause. The second study identifies a tactic marketers can utilize (...) to neutralize consumers’ use of defensive denial. Allowing the consumer to choose the sponsored cause seems to effectively refocus their attention and increases consumers’ threshold for campaign requirements. Implications for nonprofits and marketing managers include a tendency for consumers to be more likely to perceive a firm as ethical and socially responsible when they are allowed to choose the specific cause that is supported. (shrink)
This study explores the relative influences of two levels of value orientations, personal values and professional values, underlying the ethical judgments of marketing practitioners. The data were obtained from a mail survey of the American Marketing Association''s professional members. The results generally indicate that a marketer''s ethical judgments can be partially explained by his/her personal and professional values.
The need for conceptual work in marketing ethics is addressed by examining the five techniques of neutralization as a means for partially explaining unethical behaviors by marketing practitioners. These techniques are often used by individuals to lessen the possible impact of norm-violating behaviors upon their self-concept and their social relationships. Borrowed from the social disorganization and deviance literature, the five techniques of neutralization are: (1) denial of responsibility, (2) denial of injury, (3) denial of victim, (4) condemning the condemners and (...) (5) appeal to higher loyalties. Examples of marketing professionals using each of the five techniques are given, and a conceptual model linking the techniques of neutralization with unethical behavior is presented. Finally, relevant research questions are offered for consideration. (shrink)
The authors present a comprehensive synthesis and evaluation of the published scales measuring the components of the decision making process in ethical situations using the Hunt-Vitell (1993) theory of ethics as a framework to guide the research. Suggestions for future scale development are also provided.
This study examines the role of acculturation in shaping consumers’ views of ethics. Specifically, it examines the relationships between the desire to keep one’s original culture, the desire to adopt the host culture, and the four dimensions of the Muncy and Vitell (Journal of Business Research Ethics 24(4), 297, 1992) consumer ethics scale. Using two separate immigrant populations – one of former Middle-Eastern residents now living in the U.S. and the other of Asian immigrants in the U.S. – results indicate (...) that those who want to keep their original culture are less tolerant of unethical consumer activities, while those who are more willing to adopt the host culture are more tolerant of these same consumer activities. Furthermore, the immigrants in both studies who are more tolerant of unethical consumer activities are those who are generally somewhat younger and with less formal education. The relationship between gender and consumer ethics was not significant. (shrink)
Relationships with one's employees, co-workers, or superiors create ethical dilemmas. Employees' judgments and ethical perceptions have been extensively studied in Western cultures, but not in developing countries. The purpose of this investigation is to examine employees' self-reported work-related ethics and compare them to their perceptions of co-workers' and top managements' along various morally challenging situations in three developing countries' organizations. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Oman, known as the Gulf countries, were selected as the research setting - and provided the sampling (...) frame - for this study. The results suggest that respondents perceived all ethically challenging situations as unethical and had significant differences among themselves regarding the ethical perceptions of self, as compared to perceptions of peers', and top managements'. Discussion of the results and implications are provided. (shrink)
Studies in marketing ethics often revealed that ethical gaps do exist between marketers and other groups in society. The existence of these ethical gaps could be extremely counterproductive for marketing management. In order to effectively narrow these gaps, a marketing manager must first have a better understanding of causes of these gaps. To this end, this study compares marketing professionals with consumers on some important determinants of the ethical decision-making process. In particular, the marketers and consumers were compared with respect (...) to their personal moral philosophies and ethical perceptions in marketing situations. The data were obtained from a national survey of the practitioner members of the American Marketing Association and members of a consumer panel of a major southern university in the United States. The results generally indicate that marketing professionals are different from consumers with respect to some of the determinants of ethical decisions investigated. Some important managerial implications based on these findings were discussed. (shrink)