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Resistance against corporate misconduct: an analysis of ethical ideologies’ direct and moderating effects on different forms of active rebellion

Henrike Andersch, Jörg Lindenmeier (), Florian Liberatore and Dieter K. Tscheulin
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Henrike Andersch: University of Freiburg
Jörg Lindenmeier: University of Freiburg
Florian Liberatore: ZHAW School of Management and Law
Dieter K. Tscheulin: University of Freiburg

Journal of Business Economics, 2018, vol. 88, issue 6, 695-730

Abstract: Abstract Consumer resistance against corporate wrongdoing is of growing relevance for business research, as well as for firms and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Considering Fournier’s (1998) classification of consumer resistance, this study focuses on boycotting, negative word-of-mouth (WOM), and protest behavior, and these behavioral patterns can be assigned to the so-called “active rebellion” subtype of consumer resistance. Existing literature has investigated the underlying motives for rebellious actions such as boycotting. However, research offers little insight into the extent to which motivational processes are regulated by individual ethical ideology. To fill this gap in existing research, this study investigates how resistance motives and ethical ideology jointly influence individual willingness to engage in rebellion against unethical firm behavior. Based on a sample of German residents, PLS path analyses reveal direct effects of resistance motives, counterarguments, and ethical ideologies as well as moderating effects of ethical ideologies, which vary across different forms of rebellion. First, the results indicate that relativism (idealism) is more relevant in the context of boycott participation and protest behavior (negative WOM). Second and contrary to previous findings, this study reveals a positive effect of relativism on behavioral intentions. Third, individuals’ ethical ideologies do not moderate the effect of motivation to and arguments against engaging in negative WOM. On the contrary, the empirical analysis reveals significant moderating effects of relativism and idealism with regard to the effects of resistance motives and counterarguments on boycott and protest intention. Directions for future research and practical implications are discussed based on the study results.

Keywords: Business ethics; Corporate wrongdoing; Consumer resistance; Boycotts; Ethical ideology; Crisis management (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: M14 L31 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Handle: RePEc:spr:jbecon:v:88:y:2018:i:6:d:10.1007_s11573-017-0876-2