Virtue Ethics Between East and West in Consumer Research: Review, Synthesis and Directions for Future Research

  • Guli-Sanam Karimova
  • Nils Christian HoffmannEmail author
  • Ludger Heidbrink
  • Stefan Hoffmann
Original Paper


This literature review systematically synthesizes studies that link consumer research to differences and similarities in virtue ethics between the East and the West, with a focus on early Chinese and ancient Greek virtue ethics. These two major traditions provide principles that guide consumer behavior and thus serve as a background to comparatively explain and evaluate the ethical nature of consumer behavior in the East and the West. The paper first covers Eastern and Western theoretical and normative approaches of virtue ethics in the field of consumer research. The subsequent systematic literature review then synthesizes empirical works in this field. Since only a few papers adopt a cross-cultural consumer research perspective, one of the main aims of this review is to encourage scholars to pursue both theoretical and empirical cross-cultural consumer research on virtue ethics. To this end, the paper closes by suggesting some fruitful directions for future research to stimulate this relatively under-researched area.


Ancient Greek virtue ethics Cross-cultural consumer research Early Chinese philosophy East and West Literature review Virtue ethics 



The authors thank James Konow and Angelika Messner for their constructive and insightful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. The authors also thank the three anonymous reviewers for their helpful remarks. All those comments helped to improve the manuscript significantly.


This research has been carried out within the framework of KCG research projects. KCG is an initiative of University of Kiel and Kiel Institute for the World Economy and is funded by the Leibniz Association (Project Number: SAS-2016-IfW-LWC) and the State government of Schleswig–Holstein.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research Involving Human and Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy, Chair of Practical PhilosophyKiel UniversityKielGermany
  2. 2.Department of Marketing, Institute of Business AdministrationKiel UniversityKielGermany

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