Title: Relationship between consumer ethics and social rewards-punishments in Mainland China

Authors: Baochun Zhao, Zhilong Tian

Addresses: School of Business Management, South-Central University for Nationalities, Wuhan, Hubei Province 430074, People's Republic of China. ' Management School, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430074, People's Republic of China

Abstract: With the increasing concern on the efficient measures to restrain consumer|s unethical behaviours such as purchasing and using piratical software in a global market, it is necessary to explore the role of social rewards-punishments in consumer|s ethical decision-making. This paper studies the relationship between social rewards-punishments and consumer ethics through an empirical investigation with 535 useful questionnaires gathered in Mainland China. The findings indicate that in this market, consumers| perception of social rewards-punishments influences their ethical judgement significantly in different consumption situations. Moreover, the soft dimension of social rewards-punishments plays constantly a positive role in the ethical decision-making, but the hard dimension functions with two-side roles: positive in the definitely unethical situations but negative in the possibly unethical situations. Diverse roles of different dimensions of social rewards-punishments in ethical decision-making are correlated with consumption situations and consumers| individual variables. Some valued implications for business practices are offered together with suggestions for the future research.

Keywords: consumer ethics; social rewards; social punishments; social norms; ethical decision making; ethical judgement; rewards; punishments; perception; consumption situations; China; ethics; unethical behaviour.

DOI: 10.1504/IJBIR.2009.021655

International Journal of Business Innovation and Research, 2009 Vol.3 No.1, pp.52 - 69

Published online: 30 Nov 2008 *

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