Does relationship quality matter in consumer ethical decision making? Evidence from China

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-496
Journal / PublicationJournal of Business Ethics
Issue numberSUPPL. 3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


This study explores the linear logic between consumer ethical beliefs (CEBs) and consumer unethical behavior (CUB) in a Chinese context. A relational view helps fill the belief-behavior gap by exploring the moderating role of relationship quality in reducing CUBs. Specifically, when consumers are more receptive to a set of actions that may be deemed inappropriate by moral principles, they are more likely to engage in unethical behaviors. However, when consumers perceive their misconduct as possibly damaging to the relationship developed with the seller, they tend to refrain from unethical behaviors. CEBs and relationship quality also combine to affect unethical behaviors. Although consumers find the misconduct acceptable according to their ethical beliefs, they become less likely to conduct the behavior if they have a close relationship with the seller. The results contribute to a better understanding of the simplistic logic that connects CEBs and their unethical behaviors and shed light on how close relationships with consumers help contain CUBs. © Springer 2009.

Research Area(s)

  • Consumer ethical belief, Consumer unethical behavior, Relationship quality