Researching Consumer Perceived Ethicality (CPE) of Companies and Brands
Funding type: Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (IEF) (EU Seventh Framework Program)
Funding period: 2012-2014
Research team: CB Bhattacharya (ESMT Berlin), Katja H. Brunk
Issues such as corporate social responsibility (CSR) and business ethics have increasingly taken center stage in today’s society. While researchers agree that consumers react negatively/positively to companies they perceive as un/ethical, the actual question of what evokes such a negative or positive perception has not been investigated. To this day, little is known about how moral equity is generated and emerges in the consumer’s mind. This research shall redress this research imbalance. In order to better understand the link between un/ethical corporate conduct and consumer responses, the question of how ethical perceptions are formed and affected by corporate behavior is of utmost importance.
This research hoped to facilitate much-needed theory-building and deeper insight into consumer reactions to corporate ethics, CSR, or corporate reputation efforts. Any subsequent research investigating notions of company and brand misconduct, scandal spillover effects, or, more generally, any facets of ethical consumption will benefit from this conceptualization.
The host institution (ESMT) was one of the very first schools in Germany to introduce a chair in Corporate Social Responsibility (held by the scientist in charge) and is therefore an ideal fit with the applicant’s work. With links to Social Science, specifically Social Psychology, the project is multi-disciplinary by nature. In addition to the acquisition of new conceptual knowledge, the project promises to considerably expand the applicant’s methodological and analytical skillset.
The 2-year project commenced in May 2012 and was funded with an overall maximum European Union contribution of approximately €200,000 to finance an Intra-European Fellowship position, which aims to help experienced researchers enhance their careers.
Katja H. Brunk (2012), “What is ‘ethical’? Conceptualizing consumer meanings”, Proceedings of the 41st Annual Conference of the European Marketing Academy (EMAC).
Katja H. Brunk (2013), “Un/ethical Company and Brand Perceptions: Conceptualising and Operationalising Consumer Meanings”, Journal of Business Ethics, DOI 10.1007/s10551-012-1339-x.
Katja H. Brunk (2013),“A second look at the ethical product – A conceptual extension of the ethical product matrix”, Proceedings of the 42nd Annual Conference of the European Marketing Academy
Katja H. Brunk (2013), “Consumer Perceived Ethicality of a Brand/Company (CPE)”, PsychTESTS, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI 10.1037/t15261-000.