Culture and Consumer Ethics

Article Summary: Swaidan, Z. (2011). Culture and Consumer Ethics. Journal Of Business Ethics, 108(2), 201-213.

Keywords: Culture , Hofstede model, Consumer ethics, African American subculture, Muncy and Vitell model


Main idea: This study discovers the differences in consumer ethics across cultural dimensions using Hofstede’s model and Muncy and Vitell consumer ethics model.

Brands should understand that depending on the culture, consumer’s behavior will be different on a product or a service, therefore it is an important & influential variable.
The author states that culture and it’s differences affect the marketing mix because it says a lot about a consumer. He mentions Hofstede (1980) theory which is: “cultures could be contrasted along four dimensions: individualism/collectivism, masculinity/femininity, power distance, and uncertainty avoidance.”

This research focuses on an African American subculture sample to study the differences in culture and consumer ethics.

This study has 3 main objectives:

1st: study the cultural orientations of African American consumers (four dimensions of Hofstede’s (1980)

2nd: study the consumer ethics of African Americans (Muncy and Vitell (1992)) model.

3rd: Examine the differences in ethics among consumers who score high and consumers who score low on Hofstede’s cultural dimensions (i.e., collectivism, masculinity, power distance, and uncertainty avoidance).

After the author explored (within the sample of African American) the relationship between culture and personal moral philosophies, they concluded that there is a positive relationship between collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, and idealism; and a negative relationship between masculinity and idealism. Therefore, culture affects moral orientations of consumers.

He then studies different hypothesis by comparing the four dimensions of Hofstede’s model, depending if consumers score high or low and studying whether they reject illegal, active, passive, and no harm questionable activities


In this study, the different results proves that marketers who are looking to work on an international scale and include how and what the consumer of each culture want, is important to study and explore very well. The author mentiones that although he studied the differences in consumer ethics across cultural dimensions, more research should be done to explore the differences in consumer ethics using culture characteristics.

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