Understanding ethically questionable behaviour in consumption: an empirical investigation

Fukukawa, Kyoko (2002) Understanding ethically questionable behaviour in consumption: an empirical investigation. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.



This thesis is a study formulated under the rubric of understanding ethically questionable behaviour in consumption. It is argued that ethics research in the market place has tended to focus with a perspective of business practice, leaving an understanding of the consumer perspective relatively under-researched. Developed here is a theoretical framework seeking an understanding of how and why consumers engage in ethically questionable behaviour. This is initially based upon the Theory of Planned Behaviour, but extended from findings of three interrelated empirical studies conducted during the research period.

Using a combined approach of qualitative and quantitative research methods, data is presented to describe the complexity of consumer ethical decision-making considered across a wide variety of situations. In the preliminary stage of the empirical investigation, conducted through interviews and focus groups, explores consumer motivations for engagement in particular kinds of behaviour, taken to be ethically questionable. Following this, findings of two subsequent survey questionnaires, conducted to first establish and then examine underlying components of the behaviour in question, suggest a significance, and casual relationships of the underlying components with judgement, intention and reported behaviour. On this information, recommendations are considered with regard to a developing theoretical framework for ethically questionable behaviour in consumption.

The empirical investigation reveals that consumers appear to be equally aware of engaging in ethically questionable behaviour, as well as not always accepting such behaviour as simply 'unethical'. Emphasis then affords to ethicality of a wide spectrum, than merely as in the opposition ethical/unethical. The empirical findings also imply that the decision-making process in an ethical context is far too complex to be explained only in terms of ethical beliefs (i. e., rightness or wrongness of behaviour). Furthermore, it is shown that intention for engaging in the behaviour in question is very much dependent on the specifics of a situation, and represented here, in part, by the degree of estimated outcome, the willingness of social participation and the perception of unfairness of business. These implications and their wider importance are discussed, along with considerations for further research, seeking overall to contribute to a greater theoretical understanding of consumer ethics.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Supervisors:Diacon, S.R.
Ennew, C.T.
Uncontrolled Keywords:Consumer ethics, Ethical behaviour, Commerce
Faculties/Schools:UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > Nottingham University Business School
ID Code:939
Deposited By:Janet Wharton
Deposited On:09 Oct 2009 11:32
Last Modified:09 Oct 2009 11:32

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