Special Issue "Sustainable Business, Social Responsibility, Ethics and Consumer Behaviour Research"
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2021).
Interests: consumer behaviour; branding; CSR; social media
Interests: consumer psychology; international marketing; social media marketing; branding strategy; advertising
Sustainability-related issues have gained increasing attention of consumers over the past few years. In response, several businesses have embraced this trend by investing in circular business models, and by communicating their sustainable practices. Results from the Nielsen’s Conference Board at Global Consumer Confidence Survey[i] indicate that 81% of global consumers feel strongly about the socially responsible practices of companies, especially those aimed at protecting the environment. Sustainable practices, therefore, are emerging from growing consumer demands. Nevertheless, companies are also known to be reaping benefits from sustainability awareness. Estimates suggests that the market for sustainable goods is likely to be worth $150bn by 2021[ii].
How consumers behave towards sustainable, ethical business practices, and corporate social responsibility poses one of the foremost research challenges in the twenty-first century. Consumer responses to sustainable practices of businesses are however more complex than one might expect. There is an inherent tension between the promotion of sustainability by the companies on one hand, and on the other the consumer adoption of sustainable lifestyles that can benefit wider society. Scholarly work on sustainable and ethical consumption [4,7,8,14] alludes to the willingness of consumers to politically engage in the promotion of ethical and sustainable lifestyles (e.g., climate change awareness and protests, consumption of fair-trade products, environmentally sustainable consumption). One stream of the literature specifically points out the importance of the virtues of individuals underpinned by moral values such as sustainability and ethical responsibility, in driving sustainable consumption [3,9]. The trends in practice show that individuals are increasingly willing to adopt more circular practices, such as extending the lifetime of their mobile handset .
In contrast with the notion supporting anticonsumerism practices, there is growing recognition from scholars and business practices that the gap between consumers’ attitudes towards sustainability and actual behaviours is far from diminished [5,10,16]. Favourable consumer attitudes towards sustainability and corporate social responsibility practices by businesses [12, 11] do not always translate into sustainable and/or ethical behaviour and sometimes can even result in the advancement of consumerism. In the same vein, consumer scepticism towards sustainable and socially responsible businesses is also on the rise . Similarly, while seemingly willing to penalise organisations’ unethical practices perceived as hypocritical , consumers are paradoxically still defensive towards big companies which are often at the forefront of consumerism trends . Such inconsistency between the promotion of sustainability and the espousal of accelerated consumerism behaviours suggests that the domain merits further research.
Questions concerning consumer traits and/or circumstances that might promote sustainable lifestyles, and anticonsumerism trends in the long run, remain underexplored. In addition, consumers’ ethical behaviours can vary across different segments, according to one’s social group, individual traits, background, and knowledge, as well as contextual cues including the sociocultural context in which consumers live . In this regard, scholars have made renewed calls for a more nuanced understanding of consumer ethics and its unfolding in a cross-cultural context .
Against the above background, this Special Issue calls for empirical and conceptual papers that explore issues around sustainability, CSR, and consumer ethics, through the lenses of sociological, anthropological, psychological, and other research domains on consumers. Specifically, the Special Issue welcomes work on the following or any other relevant research themes:
- The impact of CSR on consumer attitudes and behaviour, within and/or across cultures;
- Defining and exploring the ethically minded consumers;
- The moderating factors explaining the attitude–behaviour gap in sustainability research;
- The state of consumer scepticism towards CSR and sustainable business practices;
- The role of social media in promoting sustainable and ethical consumer behaviour;
- How social innovations shape consumer attitudes towards sustainability;
- Ethical and sustainable consumer behaviour, within and/or across cultures;
- The adoption of circular consumer practices;
- The drivers and outcomes of political engagement in anticonsumerism ;
- Barriers and facilitators of sustainable consumption;
- Virtue ethics through the lens of Eastern versus Western culture-specific consumption behaviours.
We welcome theoretical, empirical, experimental, and case study research contributions. Contributions should clearly address practical and theoretical implications of the research reported.
Professor Jaywant Singh, University of Southampton
Dr Weisha Wang, University of Southampton
Dr Benedetta Crisafulli, Birkbeck University of London
Please direct all informal inquiries about the special issue to the guest editors.
- Ankiel, M.; Samotyja, U. The role of labels and perceived health risk in avoidable food wasting. Sustainability. 2020, 12,
- Antonetti, P.; Crisafulli, B.; Tuncdogan, A. Just look the other way”: Job seekers’ reactions to the irresponsibility of market-dominant employers. Bus. Ethics. 2020, 1-20.
- Barnett, C.; Cafaro, P.; Newholm, T. Philosophy and ethical consumption. In The ethical consumer, Harrison, R., Newholm, T., Shaw, D., Eds.; SAGE Publications Ltd: London, UK, 2005; pp.11–24.
- Barnett, C.; Cloke, P.; Clarke, N.; Malpass, A. Globalizing responsibility: The political rationalities of ethical consumption. John Wiley & Sons: Oxford, UK, 2010.
- Caruana, R.; Carrington, M. J.; Chatzidakis, A. Beyond the attitude-behaviour gap: Novel perspectives in consumer ethics: Introduction to the thematic symposium. Bus. Ethics. 2016, 136(2), 215-218.
- Gentina, E.; Tang, T.L.; Gu, Q. Do parents and peers influence adolescents’ monetary. Intelligence and consumer ethics? French and Chinese Adolescents and Behavioural Economics. Bus. Ethics. 2016, 151, 115-140.
- Hoffmann, S.; Hutter, K. Carrotmob as a new form of ethical consumption. The nature of the concept and avenues for future research. Consum. Policy. 2012, 35(2), 215–236.
- Karimova, G. S.; Hoffmann, N. C.; Heidbrink, L.; Hoffmann, S. Virtue Ethics between east and west in consumer research: review, synthesis and directions for future research. Bus. Ethics. 2020, 165(2), 255-275.
- Schwartz, D. T.; Consuming choices: Ethics in a global consumer age. Rowman & Littlefield: London, UK, 2017.
- Shaw, D.; McMaster, R.; Newholm, T. Care and commitment in ethical consumption: An exploration of the ‘attitude–behaviour gap’. Bus. Ethics. 2016, 136(2), 251-265.
- Singh, J.; The Influence of CSR and Ethical Self-Identity in Consumer Evaluation of Cobrands. Bus. Ethics. 2016, 138,311–326.
- Singh, J.; de los Salmones Sanchez, M.; del Bosque, I. Understanding corporate social responsibility and product perceptions in consumer markets: a cross-cultural evaluation. Bus. Ethics. 2009, 80, 597–611.
- Skarmeas, D.; Leonidou, C. N. When consumers doubt, watch out! The role of CSR skepticism. Bus. Res. 2013, 66(10), 1831-1838.
- Touchette, L.; Nepomuceno, M.V. The environmental impact of consumption lifestyles: ethically minded consumption vs. tightwads. Sustainability. 2020, 12,
- Wagner, T.; Lutz, Richard J.; Barton, A. W. Corporate hypocrisy: overcoming the threat of inconsistent corporate social responsibility perceptions. Mark. 2009, 73(6), 71–79.
- White, K.; Habib, R.; Hardisty, D. J. How to SHIFT consumer behaviors to be more sustainable: A literature review and guiding framework. Mark. 2019, 83(3), 22-49.
Prof. Jaywant Singh
Dr. Weisha Wang
Dr. Benedetta Crisafulli
Manuscript Submission Information
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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.
- consumer ethics
- consumer behaviour
- virtue ethics