Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 154, Issue 2, pp 441–459 | Cite as

Do Customer Perceptions of Corporate Services Brand Ethicality Improve Brand Equity? Considering the Roles of Brand Heritage, Brand Image, and Recognition Benefits

  • Oriol Iglesias
  • Stefan MarkovicEmail author
  • Jatinder Jit Singh
  • Vicenta Sierra
Original Paper


In order to be competitive in an era of ethical consumerism, brands are facing an ever-increasing pressure to integrate ethical values into their identities and to display their ethical commitment at a corporate level. Nevertheless, studies that relate business ethics to corporate brands are either theoretical or have predominantly been developed empirically in goods contexts. This is surprising, because corporate brands are more relevant in services settings, given the nature of services (i.e., intangible, heterogeneous, inseparable and perishable), and the fact that services settings comprise a greater number of customer–brand interactions and touch points than goods contexts. Accordingly, the purpose of this article is to empirically examine the effects of customer perceived ethicality of corporate brands that operate in the services sector. Based on data collected for eight service categories using a panel of 2179 customers, the hypothesized structural model is tested using path analysis. The generalizability theory is applied to test for measurement equivalence between these categories. The results of the hypothesized model show that, in addition to a direct impact, customer perceived ethicality has a positive and indirect impact on brand equity, through the mediators of recognition benefits and brand image. Moreover, brand heritage negatively influences the impact of customer perceived ethicality on brand image. The main implication is that managers need to be aware of the need to reinforce brand image and recognition benefits, as this can facilitate the translation of customer perceived ethicality into brand equity.


Brand equity Brand image Common method variance Customer perceived ethicality Corporate services brand Generalizability theory 



Average variance extracted


Brand equity


Brand heritage


Brand image


Corporate environmental responsibility


Confirmatory factor analysis


Common method variance


Customer perceived ethicality


Composite reliability


Corporate social responsibility


Generalizability coefficient


Generalizability theory


Partial least squares


Recognition benefits


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

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


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oriol Iglesias
    • 1
  • Stefan Markovic
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jatinder Jit Singh
    • 3
  • Vicenta Sierra
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of MarketingESADE - Universitat Ramon LlullSant Cugat del VallèsSpain
  2. 2.Department of MarketingCopenhagen Business SchoolFrederiksbergDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Marketing, Operations and SupplyEADA Business SchoolBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Department of Operations, Innovation and Data SciencesESADE - Universitat Ramon LlullSant Cugat del VallèsSpain

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