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

Abstract

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.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    The discussion about just prices is complex and calculations of just prices are almost impossible in practice, because there are simply too many variables. According to Cordero (1988), Meikle (1994), and Elegido (2015) justice in the Aristotelian tradition primarily implies using the principles of equality and fair exchange for price-building.

  2. 2.

    The term refers not to ‘irony’ in the modern sense of the term, but rather to self-deprecation or false humility.

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Acknowledgements

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.

Funding

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.

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Guli-Sanam Karimova and Nils Christian Hoffmann have contributed equally to this manuscript.

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Karimova, GS., Hoffmann, N.C., Heidbrink, L. et al. Virtue Ethics Between East and West in Consumer Research: Review, Synthesis and Directions for Future Research. J Bus Ethics 165, 255–275 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-019-04321-6

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Keywords

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