Examining the Roles of Collectivism, Attitude Toward Business, and Religious Beliefs on Consumer Ethics in China

Journal of Business Ethics 146 (3):505-514 (2017)
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Abstract

Chinese consumers comprise a unique subculture that exerts a considerable influence on the market and are treated as a collective group by researchers. However, few studies have examined the effects of collectivism and consumer attitudinal attributes on consumer ethics. Although the practice of religion was prohibited in China before economic reforms in the late 1970s, religion remains a major factor that affects the ethical judgment of consumers. The present study, based on the Hunt–Vitell model, examines the influence of culture and personal characteristics on consumer ethics. A total of 284 Chinese consumers were surveyed. Structural equation modeling was used to test hypothesized relationships in the research model. The results indicate that collectivism had a significant explanatory power for four dimensions of consumer ethical beliefs: actively benefiting from illegal activities; passively benefiting from questionable activities; actively benefiting from deceptive legal activities; and engaging in no harm and no foul activities. However, consumer attitude toward business significantly explained only the passive dimension of consumer ethics, and religious beliefs significantly explained only the active dimension of consumer ethical beliefs.

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