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The Relationship between Consumers’ Unethical Behavior and Customer Loyalty in a Retail Environment

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  • P. VAN KENHOVE

    ()

  • K. DE WULF
  • S. STEENHAUT

    ()

Abstract

This paper investigates the relationship between two outcomes of relationship marketing – affective commitment and behavioral loyalty – and consumers’ unethical behavior. The main objective of the study is to assess whether affective commitment and behavioral loyalty to a store translate into more ethical behavior towards that store, controlling for the variables of age, gender, and ethical beliefs. The study does not rely on a single measurement tool, but is based on ten months' panel data and three different mail surveys targeted at 359 Belgian households. The results provide support for our hypothesis that affective commitment is indeed negatively correlated with consumers’ unethical behavior. The same conclusion could not be drawn for the relationship between behavioral loyalty and consumers’ unethical behavior. No significant relationship was detected, not even in situations where affective commitment was high. The results hold major implications for retailing practice.

Suggested Citation

  • P. Van Kenhove & K. De Wulf & S. Steenhaut, 2003. "The Relationship between Consumers’ Unethical Behavior and Customer Loyalty in a Retail Environment," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 03/167, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
  • Handle: RePEc:rug:rugwps:03/167
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Fournier, Susan, 1998. " Consumers and Their Brands: Developing Relationship Theory in Consumer Research," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 24(4), pages 343-373, March.
    2. Strutton, David & Vitell, Scott J. & Pelton, Lou E., 1994. "How consumers may justify inappropriate behavior in market settings: An application on the techniques of neutralization," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 253-260, July.
    3. Geyskens, I. & Steenkamp, J.E.B.M. & Scheer, L.K. & Kumar, N., 1996. "The effects of trust and interdependence on relationship commitment : A trans-Atlantic study," Other publications TiSEM ef7c8d6c-963d-4ee7-8576-9, Tilburg University, School of Economics and Management.
    4. Chonko, Lawrence B. & Hunt, Shelby D., 1985. "Ethics and marketing management: An empirical examination," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 339-359, August.
    5. Arnold, Stephen J. & Handelman, Jay & Tigert, Douglas J., 1996. "Organizational legitimacy and retail store patronage," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 229-239, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Oylum Korkut Altuna & F. Müge Arslan & A. Ercan Gegez & Özge Sýðýrcý, 2016. "Development of a Scale on e-Consumers’ Attitudes towards Ethically Questionable Online Behaviors," Bogazici Journal, Review of Social, Economic and Administrative Studies, Bogazici University, Department of Economics, vol. 30(1), pages 99-134.
    2. repec:eme:srjpps:v:6:y:2010:i:2:p:393-404 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. D. Van den Poel, 2003. "Predicting Mail-Order Repeat Buying. Which Variables Matter?," Review of Business and Economic Literature, KU Leuven, Faculty of Economics and Business, Review of Business and Economic Literature, vol. 0(3), pages 371-404.
    4. BaoChun Zhao & ShanShan Xu, 2013. "Does Consumer Unethical Behavior Relate to Birthplace? Evidence from China," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 113(3), pages 475-488, March.
    5. Long-Chuan Lu & Hsiu-Hua Chang & Alan Chang, 2015. "Consumer Personality and Green Buying Intention: The Mediate Role of Consumer Ethical Beliefs," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 127(1), pages 205-219, March.
    6. Tine Bock & Iris Vermeir & Patrick Kenhove, 2013. "“What’s the Harm in Being Unethical? These Strangers are Rich Anyway!” Exploring Underlying Factors of Double Standards," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 112(2), pages 225-240, January.
    7. S. Steenhaut & P. Van Kenhove, 2006. "The Mediating Role of Anticipated Guilt in Consumers’ Ethical Decision-Making," Working Papers of Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Ghent University, Belgium 06/370, Ghent University, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration.
    8. Sarah Steenhaut & Patrick Kenhove, 2006. "The Mediating Role of Anticipated Guilt in Consumers’ Ethical Decision-Making," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 69(3), pages 269-288, December.
    9. Mbaye Fall Diallo & Christine Lambey-Checchin, 2017. "Consumers’ Perceptions of Retail Business Ethics and Loyalty to the Retailer: The Moderating Role of Social Discount Practices," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 141(3), pages 435-449, March.
    10. Zhiqiang Liu & Fue Zeng & Chenting Su, 2009. "Does Relationship Quality Matter in Consumer Ethical Decision Making? Evidence from China," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 88(3), pages 483-496, October.

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