Academic journal article Australasian Accounting Business & Finance Journal

Consumer Ethical Decision Making: Linking Moral Intensity, Self- Consciousness and Neutralization Techniques

Academic journal article Australasian Accounting Business & Finance Journal

Consumer Ethical Decision Making: Linking Moral Intensity, Self- Consciousness and Neutralization Techniques

Article excerpt

1.INTRODUCTION

The literature on business ethics can be traced back to 1920 however it is recently getting popular among researchers around the world. The initial focus of business ethics studies has remained biased towards examining the role and responsibilities of seller's side and has ignored the buyer's side. It was the work of Muncy & Vitell (1992) that has highlighted the importance of the consumer side in maintaining ethical balance in the businesses (Vitell, 2003). Since then a plethora of studies have focused consumer ethics however the discovery have just revealed the tip of the iceberg. Consumer aberrant behaviour at marketplace is still a bigger challenge to researchers (Caruana, Carrington, & Chatzidakis, 2015; Chatzidakis, Hibbert, & Smith, 2006; Chatzidakis & Mitussis, 2007). Why consumers have behaved differently from their verbal statement or belief has remained the major question to date. Young, Hwang, McDonald, & Oates (2010) have reported only 5% of the 30% consumers registering their concern over environmental issues have confirmed through their behaviours. Caruana et al.(2015) blames the methodological procedures adopted by previous studies that have naively taken consumer behaviour as a rational process. Such studies have largely ignored the bigger picture containing historic, social and cultural dimensions in which consumers exist.

In order to solve this puzzle the study conceptually links and empirically examines three well established theories being used in three different disciplines. First, the issue-contingent theory is a famous rational model by Jones (1991) that emphasizes upon "moral issue intensity" and is developed for organizational settings. Second, the theory of neutralization techniques by Sykes & Matza (1957) is a highly acknowledged theory being used in the field of criminology that explains the rationalization process of a criminal act used by a criminal. Third, a well established scale for measuring non-rational aspect i.e. self-consciousness by Scheier & Carver (1985) is used in the field of self-conscious emotions. The relationship between emotions and their impact on the subsequent behaviour is well established in the literature (Guerra, Huesmann, & Zelli, 1993; Weiner, 1985). Self-consciousness on the other hand has earned little attention among researchers (Tracy & Robins, 2007; Tracy & Robins, 2004). Similarly, the "theory of neutralization" has largely been ignored by researchers in social sciences except the field of criminology (Maruna & Copes, 2005). It is recently the theory has found some grounds in consumer settings that involves ethical decision making (Chatzidakis, 2007; Chatzidakis et al., 2006; Mallin & Serviere-Munoz, 2013; McGregor, 2008; Strutton, Vitell, & Pelton, 1994). The impact of the characteristics of the ethical issue on decision making was first identified by Jones (1991) and were called "moral intensity". An issue of high moral intensity in ethically posed situation will invoke consumer's attention towards self-consciousness and defence mechanism (neutralization technique).

The purpose of the study is to explore the impact of moral intensity on self-consciousness and neutralization techniques. Accordingly, the influence of self-consciousness on individual's neutralization technique is also examined. The study basically has three research objectives:

i. To investigate the impact of moral intensity on self-consciousness and neutralization techniques.

ii. To investigate the impact of self-consciousness on consumer's neutralization techniques.

iii. To investigate the impact of moral intensity, self-conscious emotions and neutralization techniques on individual's behavioural intention.

The study is empirically in nature that comprises of a sample of 388 shopping mall consumers. Data is analyzed through descriptive statistics, correlation, exploratory factor analysis (EFA) through SPSS 17. …

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