This week’s research articles look at the other side of business: consumer motivation and ethics.
Does raising value co-creation increase all customers’ happiness?
Happiness, defined as a state of well-being and contentment, is a central human goal. Despite advances in customer behaviour research related to value co-creation, the link between customer happiness and these behaviours remains unclear.
This study therefore examines customers’ in-role participation behaviour and extra-role citizenship behaviour to determine their influence on customers’ happiness. Customer participation and citizenship behaviours relate positively to customers’ perceptions of both service performance and their contributions to others’ welfare.
In addition, collectivism moderates the relationship between perceived contributions to others’ welfare and happiness; individualism instead moderates the relationship between perceived service performance and happiness. These findings provide both managerial implications and directions for business marketing ethics.
Yi-Ching Hsieh, Hung-Chang Chiu, Yun-Chia Tang and Wei-Yun Lin. 2018. Does Raising Value Co-creation Increase All Customers’ Happiness?
Journal of Business Ethics, 152(4), 1053–1067.
Gender-based price discrimination in hair and dry cleaning services
This study explores consumer expectations and attitudes related to gender-based price discrimination. Although much research has focused on pay inequalities and gender diversity, considerably less attention has been focused on situations in which men and women are charged different prices based on gender.
In two studies, expectations and attitudes toward gender-based price discrimination are examined. In Study 1, two scenarios related to prices at hair salon and dry cleaning services were manipulated to measure expectations and attitudes toward gender-based price discrimination. We found that the nature of the service results in expectations of price differences between men and women. We also found men expect gender-based pricing more than women.
In Study 2, qualitative research was conducted to reveal the cognitions that men and women experience when exposed to gender-based price discrimination.
O. C. Ferrell, Dimitri Kapelianis, Linda Ferrell and Lynzie Rowland. 2018. Expectations and Attitudes Toward Gender-Based Price Discrimination.
Journal of Business Ethics, 152(4), 1015–1032.
Do consumers’ good traits predict their socially responsible consumption?
Drawing upon the theory of virtue ethics, this study builds a decision tree predictive model to explore the anticipated impact of good traits (i.e., virtuous and personality traits) on socially responsible consumption.
Using R statistical software, we generate a classification tree and cross-validate the model on two independent datasets. The results indicate that the virtuous traits of self-efficacy, courage, and self-control, as well as the personality traits of openness and conscientiousness, predict socially responsible purchase and disposal behavise. Remarkably, the largest segment of socially responsible consumers in the study (41 %) scored high in self-efficacy and openness.
This result suggests that marketers should focus on these good traits when creating advertisements to encourage sustainable consumption. Our study contributes to enhancing knowledge about the social and psychological aspects of the sustainability movement and provides a new analytical approach to predicting socially responsible consumption.
So Young Song and Youn-Kyung Kim. 2018. Theory of Virtue Ethics: Do Consumers’ Good Traits Predict Their Socially Responsible Consumption?
Journal of Business Ethics, 152(4), 1159–1175.
Translating consumer environmental beliefs into action
Consumers do not always follow their ideological beliefs about the need to engage in environmentally friendly (EF) consumption. We propose that Commitment to Beliefs (CTB)—the general tendency to follow one’s value-based beliefs—can help identify who is most likely to follow their environmental ideologies.
We predicted that CTB would amplify the effect of beliefs prescribing environmental stewardship (e.g., new ecological paradigm), or neglect (e.g., economic system-justification), on corresponding intentions, behaviour, and purchasing decisions.
In two studies, CTB amplified the positive and negative effects of relevant EF ideologies on EF purchase decisions (Study 1), and consumption and conservation attitudes, intentions, as well as future behaviour (Study 2). In each study, only people with higher levels of CTB demonstrated the most ideologically consistent consumption and conservation intentions and behaviour.
These findings clarify who is most likely to align their decisions and lifestyles according to their sustainable consumption ideologies. The amplification effect of CTB, and the CTB variable itself, present new contributions to consumer behaviour research and the domains of sustainable or ethical consumption in particular and offer wide-ranging potential for marketing practitioners and researchers.
Matthew A. Maxwell-Smith, Paul J. Conway, Joshua D. Wright and James M. Olson. 2018. Translating Environmental Ideologies into Action: The Amplifying Role of Commitment to Beliefs.
Journal of Business Ethics, 153(3), 839–858.
Consumer responses to counterfeit and pirated products
Acquisition and purchase of counterfeit and pirated products are illicit and morally questionable consumer behaviours. Nonetheless, some consumers engage in such illicit behaviour and seem to overcome the moral dilemma by justification strategies.
The findings on morality effects on consumer responses to counterfeit and pirated products are diverse, and the underlying theories provide no clear picture of the process that explains how morality and justification lead to particular consumer responses or why consumers differ in their responses.
This study presents a meta-analysis of 788 effect sizes from 207 independent samples provided in 196 manuscripts that synthesizes the research on the influence of morality on attitudes, intentions, and behaviour toward counterfeit and pirated products.
The meta-analysis tests competing theoretical models that describe the morality-justification processes, and identifies the deontological–teleological model as the superior one. The meta-analysis further shows that the institutional and social context of consumers explains the differences in morality effects on justifications and responses to counterfeit and pirated products, and provides evidence for the context-sensitivity of the underlying theories.
Martin Eisend. 2019. Morality Effects and Consumer Responses to Counterfeit and Pirated Products: A Meta-analysis.
Journal of Business Ethics, 154(2), 301–323.
Customer perceptions of corporate services brand ethicality and brand equity
In order to be competitive in an era of ethical consumerism, brands are facing an ever-increasing pressure to integrate ethical values into their identities and to display their ethical commitment at a corporate level.
Nevertheless, studies that relate business ethics to corporate brands are either theoretical or have predominantly been developed empirically in goods contexts. This is surprising, because corporate brands are more relevant in services settings, given the nature of services (i.e., intangible, heterogeneous, inseparable and perishable), and the fact that services settings comprise a greater number of customer–brand interactions and touch points than goods contexts.
Accordingly, the purpose of this article is to empirically examine the effects of customer perceived ethicality of corporate brands that operate in the services sector. Based on data collected for eight service categories using a panel of 2179 customers, the hypothesised structural model is tested using path analysis. The generalisability theory is applied to test for measurement equivalence between these categories.
The results of the hypothesised model show that, in addition to a direct impact, customer perceived ethicality has a positive and indirect impact on brand equity, through the mediators of recognition benefits and brand image. Moreover, brand heritage negatively influences the impact of customer perceived ethicality on brand image. The main implication is that managers need to be aware of the need to reinforce brand image and recognition benefits, as this can facilitate the translation of customer perceived ethicality into brand equity.
Oriol Iglesias, Stefan Markovic, Jatinder Jit Singh and Vicenta Sierra. 2019. Do Customer Perceptions of Corporate Services Brand Ethicality Improve Brand Equity? Considering the Roles of Brand Heritage, Brand Image, and Recognition Benefits.
Journal of Business Ethics, 154(2), 441–459.
I love that company: Measuring organisational reputation
Within the corporate social responsibility (CSR) research field, the construct of organisational reputation has been extensively scrutinized as a crucial mediator between the firm CSR engagement and valuable organisational outcomes.
Yet, the existing literature on organisational reputation suffers from substantive divergence between the studies in terms of defining the construct’s domain, dimensional structure, and the methodological operationalisation. The current study aims to refine the organisational reputation construct by reconciling varying theoretical perspectives within the construct’s definitional landscape, suggesting a holistic but parsimonious triadic view on the organisational reputation construct for customer stakeholders.
Based on commonly-used extant organisational reputation measures, we theoretically and empirically develop the customer-based triadic organisational reputation (TOR) scale and position it as a superordinate multidimensional construct (generalised favourability) influencing three distinct first-order dimensions: product and service efficacy, societal ethicality, and market prominence.
Results show that the proposed triadic conceptualisation of organisational reputation is theoretically defensible, and the resulting scale is cross-culturally generalisable and performs well compared with existing, longer measures of organisational reputation. Together, the organisational reputation model developed here suggests that, for cognitive economy and functional efficiency, customers will access a second-order reflective model of organisational reputation as the default implicit attitude (reputation as assessment), which in turn will activate reflections of the implicit attitude in the form of first-order dimensions (reputation as asset).
James Agarwal, Madelynn Stackhouse and Oleksiy Osiyevskyy. 2018. I Love That Company: Look How Ethical, Prominent, and Efficacious It Is—A Triadic Organizational Reputation (TOR) Scale.
Journal of Business Ethics, 153(3), 889–910.