A selection of interesting research and articles we found recently.

Do firms with responsible tax strategies have better consumer success?
Yes, according to Inga Hardeck and Rebecca Hertl. These researchers looked at the effects of media reports on companies’ aggressive and responsible corporate tax strategies (CTSs) and corporate reputation, consumer purchase intention, and the consumer’s willingness to pay.  Results suggest that aggressive CTSs diminish corporate success with consumers, while responsible CTSs enhance corporate success with consumers.

However, consumers are not willing to pay extra for products from companies with responsible tax-planning. Instead consumers react by being slightly less willing to pay for the goods and services from aggressive tax-planning companies. Consumers’ tax morale and their attitude toward tax avoidance influence their actual behaviour.

More details are in the full paper: Inga Hardeck and Rebecca Hertl. Consumer Reactions to Corporate Tax Strategies: Effects on Corporate Reputation and Purchasing Behavior.
Journal of Business Ethics, 2014, 123(2), pp. 309-326.


Do only stable consumer beliefs lead to sustainable consumption choices?
No, feelings of guilt and pride convince consumers of the effectiveness of sustainable consumption choices, according to Paolo Anonetti and Stan Maklan’s research. Their paper reports the impact that guilt and pride have on perceived consumer effectiveness. It shows how this effect rests on the ability of these emotions to influence perceptions of agency. After experiencing guilt or pride, consumers see themselves as the cause of relevant sustainability outcomes. The process of causal attribution associated with these emotions influences consumers’ use of neutralisation techniques.

By reducing consumers’ ability to neutralize their sense of personal responsibility, guilt and pride positively influence perceived consumer effectiveness. The inability to rationalise-away their personal responsibility persuades consumers that they affect sustainability outcomes through their decisions. The authors claim that their research has significant implications for the development of sustainable marketing initiatives.

Read more at: Paolo Anonetti and Stan Maklan. Feelings that Make a Difference: How Guilt and Pride Convince Consumers of the Effectiveness of Sustainable Consumption Choices.
Journal of Business Ethics, 2014, 124(1), pp. 117-134.


Scale for measuring consumer perceptions of CSR
Magdalena Öberseder, Bodo Schlegelmilch, Patrick Murphy and Verena Gruber propose a scale for measuring consumer perceptions of CSR (known as CPCSR).  Using qualitative interview data managers and consumers, the authors developed a conceptualisation of CPCSR and a measurement model, which was then tested and validated on three large quantitative data sets. The outcomes can assist companies in assessing CPCSR relative to their performance, and help managers in identifying shortcomings in CSR engagement and/or communication.

See: Magdalena Öberseder, Bodo B.Schlegelmilch, Patrick Murphy and Verena Gruber. Consumers’ Perceptions of Corporate Social Responsibility: Scale Development and Validation.
Journal of Business Ethics, 2014, 124(1), pp. 101-115.


Ethical dilemma when consumers participate in evading consumption tax
Barbara Culiberg and Domen Bajde decided to focus on the shadow economy by looking at consumer consumption tax evasion (CTE) in Slovenia. Using the Jones’ issue-contingent model of ethical decision making, the authors developed a conceptual model of consumer ethical decision making for CTE by incorporating four key elements from the issue-contingent model. The elements were: moral recognition, moral judgement, moral intention and moral intensity. Personal moral philosophies were introduced as an antecedent to the consumer ethical decision-making process.

Findings confirm that consumers’ recognition of CTE as a moral issue is influenced by their moral philosophy and perceptions regarding the magnitude of CTE’s consequences, their visibility, probability, and temporal immediacy. These perceptions also play an important role in determining consumers’ moral judgements and intentions regarding CTE. Moreover, through the process of moral recognition and moral judgement, consumers form intentions to participate in or avoid CTE. The study has implications for public policy makers who are trying to reduce the tax gap.

Read more about this study in: Barbara Culiberg and Domen Bajde. Do You Need a Receipt? Exploring Consumer Participation in Consumption Tax Evasion as an Ethical Dilemma.
Journal of Business Ethics, 2014, 124(2), pp. 271-282.


Do store buyers’ gender and expertise affect ethical decision-making?
Indeed, according to a study of French buyers. Women and experienced buyers make the most ethical decisions according to researchers Jocelyn Husser, Laurence Gautier, Jean-Marc André and Véronique Lespinet-Najib. The research team presented both novice and experienced buyers with situations involving ethical and non-ethical choices, using five scenarios representing typical purchasing situations in relation to the environment, physical integrity, conflict of interest, or paternalism.

Results show that buyer expertise and gender clearly influence ethical decision-making. Women mostly opted for ethical behavior in all scenarios. Interestingly, the link between the ethical choices made and explaining the rationale for the decision was not always coherent. Sometimes ethical choices were justified for economic reasons or for reasons of avoidance. One recommendation is that firms recruiting new buyers should have different strategies in place for recruits of different genders.

Read about this study in: Jocelyn Husser, Laurence Gautier, Jean-Marc André and Véronique Lespinet-Najib. Linking Purchasing to Ethical Decision-Making: An Empirical Investigation.
Journal of Business Ethics, 2014, 123(2), pp. 327-338.