Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 84, Issue 1, pp 29–44 | Cite as

Consumer Ethics in Japan: An Economic Reconstruction of Moral Agency of Japanese Firms – Qualitative Insights from Grocery/Retail Markets

  • Sigmund Wagner-TsukamotoEmail author


The article reconstructs, in economic terms, managerial business ethics perceptions in the Japanese consumer market for fast-moving daily consumption products. An economic, three-level model of moral agency was applied that distinguishes unintentional moral agency, passive intentional moral agency and active intentional moral agency. The study took a qualitative approach and utilized as empirical research design an interview procedure. The study found that moral agency of Japanese firms mostly extended up to unintentional and intentional passive moral agency. Certain myopic managerial views were found to affect active moral agency. This leaves room for business ethics program that aim at the development of active moral agency.


Economics & moral agency/consumer ethics three types of moral agency Japanese consumer industry managerial perceptions on business ethics qualitative empirical research 


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The research project was made possible by a research fellowship of the Japan Foundation and by research leave granted by the researcher’s University. The researcher greatly acknowledges the support given by BERC (Business Ethics Research Centre) and JABES (Japan Association for Business Ethics Study), Tokyo, especially its chairman Professor Masakazu Mizutani, Research Fellow Toshio Sena as well as Chief Researcher Kuniaki Matsumoto. Very special thanks also to Professor Shunji Kobayashi of Waseda University where a preliminary version of this article was presented at a business ethics seminar. An earlier version of this article was also presented at a BERC conference and a JABES conference, in Tokyo. The feedback received at these meetings as well as from two anonymous referees greatly contributed to the development of the final article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ManagementUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterU.K.

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