The Case for Moral Consumption: Examining and Expanding the Domain of Moral Behavior to Promote Individual and Collective Well-Being

Yuliya Komarova Loureiro, Julia Bayuk, Stefanie M. Tignor, Gergana Y. Nenkov, Sara Baskentli, and Dave Webb
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Key Takeaways

​Most morality research to date has examined narrow, one-time im(moral) behaviors, but it’s important to additionally examine habitual behaviors that may have a long-term impact.

While there are fairly clear norms of what is considered engaging in immoral behavior, there aren’t many standards for what is considered a sufficient amount of moral behavior.

Policies aimed at promoting moral and curbing immoral behavior must be developed with an eye to the malleable, flexible nature of consumer morality.

​​Article Snapshots: Executive Summaries from the Journal of Public Policy & Marketing​

The purpose of this article is to review and synthesize current literature on marketplace morality, develop a typology of prescriptive and proscriptive marketplace behaviors, identify gaps that can be addressed via future research, and provide recommendations for public policy makers.​​​



Research

Despite an increased research focus on morality in recent years, there has been little discussion on what types of behaviors fall in the domain of morality. What is defined as “moral behavior” can vary greatly from paper to paper, from field to field, or from person to person. To date, little to no research has focused on clarifying what types of decisions and behaviors fall in the moral domain in the marketplace, and how broadening the scope of what researchers define as “moral behavior” can affect public policy and consumer well-being.

Method

We conduct a systematic review of the last decade of marketing literature and find that the definition of what is considered “marketplace morality” has been rather narrow. We propose a broader definition and develop a typology of moral consumption behaviors based on the valence of moral judgment/behavior (moral or immoral) and moral content (harm, fairness, loyalty, authority, and purity). We find that most research has focused on understanding one-time (im)moral behaviors in narrow domains, which have local implications and short-term impact.

Findings

We propose that there is untapped potential in investigating repeated (im)moral behaviors associated with lifestyle choices and habits of individuals and have wider, long-term moral implications (e.g., wastefulness, overindulgence, pollution, authenticity, discrimination).

Implications

Our findings can serve to deepen the public’s understanding of why people behave immorally or fail to engage in moral behaviors, despite being “good” at their core. They can also encourage people, managers, researchers, and so forth, to think not just about how to discourage immoral behavior but also how to encourage moral behavior. Managers and researchers should also look at a wider variety of (im)moral behaviors and the impact they might have. Retail firms, environmental businesses and causes, and charitable causes, as well as policy makers, all stand to benefit from these findings.


Questions for the Classroom

  • How do you define moral and immoral behavior, and how do others?

  • What is moral consumption? 

  • Describe the respective roles and responsibilities of consumers and organizations in promoting a “moral” (i.e., just and fair) marketplace?

  • What can public policy makers, society, organizations, etc., do to improve marketplace morality?


Article Citation

Yuliya Komarova Loureiro, Julia Bayuk, Stefanie M. Tignor, Gergana Y. Nenkov, Sara Baskentli, and Dave Webb (2016), “The Case for Moral Consumption: Examining and Expanding the Domain of Moral Behavior to Promote Individual and Collective Well-Being,” Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, 35 (2), 305-322.

doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1509/jppm.15.148​


Yuliya Komarova Loureiro is Assistant Professor of Marketing, Gabelli School of Business, Fordham University (e-mail: ykomarova@fordham.edu).

Julia Bayuk is Assistant Professor of Marketing, Lerner College of Business and Economics, University of Delaware (e-mail: jbayuk@udel.edu).

Stefanie M. Tignor is a doctoral candidate in psychology, Northeastern University (e-mail: tignor.s@husky.neu.edu).

Gergana Y. Nenkov is Associate Professor of Marketing, Carroll School of Management, Boston College (e-mail: gergana.nenkov@.edu).

Sara Baskentli is a doctoral candidate in marketing, Baruch College (e-mail: sara.baskentli@baruch.cuny.edu).

Dave Webb is Associate Professor of Marketing and Associate Director of UN PRME, University of Western Australia Business School (e-mail: dave.webb@uwa.edu.au).


Author Bio:

 
Yuliya Komarova Loureiro, Julia Bayuk, Stefanie M. Tignor, Gergana Y. Nenkov, Sara Baskentli, and Dave Webb
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