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European Consximer ethics: a cross-cultural a number of organizational variables including

investigation pet expectations, role conflict, role ambiguity,


Journal Jamal A. Al-Khatib, Scott J ViteUand job satisfaction, organization commitment and
of Marketing Mohammed Y.A. Rawwas intention to leave and their relationships to job
stress. The sample is drawn from an
31,11/12 Keywords Consumer behaviour. Ethics, international, service-oriented salesforce of a
Globalization, International marketing large Fortune 500 organization. Provides strong
In recent years, business ethics has drawn support for the hypothesized model relationship.
736 increased interest from business and marketing Presents a discussion and implications of the
, practitioners as well as from academicians. results along with a summary of needed future
Despite the repeated call iri the literature for research.
cross-cultural research in this age of
globalization, virtually no studies have The effect of odd pricing on demand
examined the ethical beliefs and ideologies of
foreign consumers and compared them to those Phitip Gendall, Judith Holdershaw and
of US consumers. Investigates the ethical beliefs, Ron Garland
preferred ethical ideology and degree of Keywords Pricing, Demand, Consumer
Machiavellianism of US versus Egyptian behaviour. Retailing
consumers. Concludes that while US consumers Presents the findings of a study designed to
appear generally less likely to accept various investigate the effect of odd pricing on
questionable consumer practices than Egyptian respondents' purchase probabilities for six
consumers, they are more likely to reject moral products ranging in price from $5 to $100. The
absolutes. products tested were a block of cheese, a frozen
chicken, a box of chocolates, a hair dryer, an
Counter-revolutionary forces in the electric kettle and a food blender, and the data
information revolution: entrepreneurial were collected in a mall intercept of 300
action, infonnation intensity and market household shoppers. For each product a demand
transformation curve was estimated and the differences between
Jack M. Cadeaux expected and actual purchase probabilities at
each odd price level examined. For all six
Keywords Entrepreneurialism, products, demand was higher than expected at
Information systems. Marketing strategy one or both of the odd price points tested. This
Many analysts claim that global systems of effect was particularly marked for the lower-
information management have become priced food items (cheese, chicken and
singularly important in explaining market chocolates) and for prices ending in the digit 9.
transformation. In contrast, an entrepreneurial Provides support for the assumption that odd
tradition in marketing thought suggests an pricing generates greater than expected demand
alternative to the contemporary exaltation of and for the common practice of setting retail
information and inforniation management. In prices which end in 99 cents or $99.
this tradition, inforrnation intensity becomes an
endogenous and increasingly manageable Small firm performance: assessing the
consequence of the process of transformation. interaction between entrepreneurial
Suggests that, by attracting global technological style and organizational structure
homogeneity, industry-wide information
intensity can plant the seeds of its own Ian Chaston
destruction as a revolutionary force. Keywords Entrepreneurialism, Growth,
Marketing strategy. Organizational structure,
Examining the antecedents and Small-to-medium-sized enterprises
consequences of salesperson job stress Poor marketing is widely accepted as one of the
William C Moncrief Emin Babakus, key reasons to explain success and failure of
David W. Cravens and Mark Johnston small firms. There is less agreement, however,
about whether these types of business should
Keywords Multinationals, Sales management, adopt a classic strategic management approach
Services marketing. Stress to marketing. Some writers are now proposing
As productivity pressures, job uncertainties, that an entrepreneurial marketing style is more
changing sales strategies, and growing appropriate in the smaller firm. Although this
international competition increase, the concept is gaining acceptance, there apparently
European Journal of Marketing,
Vol. 31 No. 11/12,1997, salesperson experiences unprecedented levels of exists no quantitative evidence to support the
Abstracts and keywords job stress. Cause and effect of job stress still hypothesis that an entrepreneurial style will
O MCB University Press, 0309-0566 remains poorly understood. Examines the role of definitely enhance the overall performance of the
European
Journal Consumer ethics: a
of Marketing
31,11/12
cross-cultural investigation
Jamal A. Al-Khatib
750 University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA
Accepted March 1996 Scott J.Vitell
University of Mississippi, Mississippi, USA, and
Mohammed Y.A. Rawwas
University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa, USA
Concern for ethical issues in business has dramatically increased over the last
decade. Both academics and practitioners have shown an intense interest in
ethical issues. For example, both the Journal of Business Ethics and the
Business & Professional Ethics Journal came into existence in the early 1980s.
There have also been numerous ethics conferences such as the Arthur
Anderson-sponsored conferences on teaching business ethics and Penn State's
G. Albert Shoemaker Program in Business Ethics. Much of the research that
has been done on business ethics has focused on marketing and marketing
related activities (Ferrell and Gresham, 1985; Ferrell et al., 1989; Hunt and Vitell,
1986,1992). This is probably due to the fact that marketing in general and the
buyer/seller dyad in particular is a place where a lot of ethical problems in
business arise (Baumhart, 1961; Brenner and Molander, 1977; Vitell and
Festervand, 1987).
Therefore, a large body of literature is developing concerning ethics in the
marketplace; however, almost all of this research has focused on the seller side
of the buyer/seller dyad. An extensive search of the literature indicates that only
about 20 studies exist that have examined ethical issues in the marketplace
from the consumer's perspective, and most of these studies focused on very
specific and limited situations such as shoplifting. Given that, in the words of
Bernstein (1985), consumers are "out-doing big business and the government at
unethical behavior" (p. 24), there seems to be a definite need to study the ethical
decision making of consumers. Consumers are a major participant in the
business process and not considering them in ethics research may result in an
incomplete understanding of business ethics issues.
Additionally, despite repeated calls in the marketing literature for cross-
cultural studies to adapt marketing concepts to the realities of the international
marketplace, only a limited number of studies have investigated the ethical
issues and problems confronting foreign marketers (Akaah, 1990; Becker and
Fritzsche, 1987). However, no studies have investigated the ethic of the final
consumer in foreign countries and compared them to those of US consumers.
European Joumal of Marketing,
Vol. 31 No. 1U12.1997, pp. 750-767.
Nevertheless, this remains a critical field for research endeavours. As
© MCB University Press, 0309«66 Cunningham and Green (1984) state in commenting on the importance of
cross-cultural research in marketing, "research should be encouraged to Consumer ethics:
determine which marketing principles can be universally applied and which are ^ cross-cultural
basically ethnocentric" (p. 9). In a similar vein, research should be conducted investigation
that determines which consumer ethics principles can be universally applied
and which are ethnocentric.
This paper describes a cross-cultural study that investigated consumer
judgements about a variety of consumer situations involving ethical issues such 751
as changing price-tags on merchandise in a store, and also selected personality " ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^
characteristics related to the individual's general moral philosophy such as the
degree of Machiavellianism exhibited. These consumer judgements and
personality characteristics were then compared for consumers from the two
distinct cultures of Egypt and the USA.

Literature review
Consumer ethics
As stated earlier, research on consumer ethics has been quite limited. The little
that has been written about consumer ethics can be placed into four broad
categories. First, some authors have empirically examined very specific
behaviours that have ethical implications. The two most commonly
investigated areas are shoplifting (Kallis et al, 1986; Moschis and Powell, 1986)
and ecologically related consumption (Antil, 1984; Haldeman et al, 1987).
A second group of papers has focused on providing normative guidelines for
businesses and consumers on ethically related issues. For example, Stampfl
(1979) outlined a code of ethics for consumers and Schubert (1979) developed a
set of strategies for combating consumer abuse.
The third set of papers has focused on developing a conceptual basis for
understanding ethical decision making by consumers. Conceptually, Grove
et al (1989) presented a model, based on the techniques of neutralization
developed in sociology by Sykes and Matza (1957), that helps explain how some
people may justify non-normative consumer behaviour. Given the paucity of
research in this area, the techniques of neutralization may be capable of giving
some direction for studying consumers' ethical judgements.
The fourth group has empirically attempted to understand the ethical
decision making of consumers. However, only a few studies could be found that
investigated the general ethical judgements of the final consumer. Based on
John F Kennedy's "Consumer Bill of Rights", Davis (1979) investigated the
extent to which people are willing to take on the responsibilities corresponding
to their rights as consumers. She found that more subjects were likely to insist
on their rights as consumers than were willing to accept their corresponding
responsibilities.
In a similar study, De Paulo (1987) investigated students' perceptions about
how vwong they believed certain behaviours to be. Some situations presented to
various subjects focused on the behaviour of sellers and some focused on the
behaviour of buyers. There were pairs of behaviours that were conceptually
similar but differed in terms of whether it was the buyer or seller engaging in the
European unethical behaviour (e.g. the buyer misleading the seller when negotiating
Journal versus the seller misleading the buyer when negotiating). Consistent with Davis
of Marketing (1979), consumers were more critical of sellers who engaged in potentially
unethical behaviour than they were of buyers who engaged in the same behavior.
31,11/12
A study by Wilkes (1978) investigated consumers' judgements concerning
how "wrong" certain activities are. This was the first study that investigated
752 peoples' perceptions of such behaviour. Though some fraudulent activities were
disapproved of more than others, most of these activities were seen as being
wrong. There were, however, a few activities that consumers seemed to perceive
as tolerable. These "points of tolerance" seem to relate to those activities where
business rather than the consumer was at fault.
A more recent study by Vitell et al. (1991) investigated the elderly consumer's
perception of 20 consumer situations having potentially ethical implications.
Respondents were asked to rate each of these situations based on whether or
not they thought the action was wrong. In addition, various personality
characteristics relating to one's general moral philosophy such as
Machiavellianism were examined. Similarly, Muncy and Vitell (1992)
investigated 27 consumer perceptions of various consumer dilemmas involving
ethics, and examined various demographic variables relative to these
perceptions.
Though the cited research does give some insight into ethical judgements,
more research is still needed. Research on consumer ethics should be extended.
First, none of the previous studies was multi-cultural in nature. In fact, many
used a very limited sample such as students (De Paulo, 1987) or housewives
(Wilkes, 1978). To gain a better understanding of the universality of the
consumer's ethical philosophies and beliefs, research is needed that studies a
broader multi-cultural cross-section of the adult population. Second, research is
needed that investigates a broader set of beliefs within a single study. Though
the breadth of issues investigated by previous studies, taken together, is
considerable, insight into ethical judgements can be gained by studying the
breadth of these issues within one single study. This will help in determining
which tiT)es of potentially questionable consumer actions are viewed as more
acceptable than others, and how these views differ across cultures.
In sum, what we know about the consumer's ethical decision making is very
limited. There is a need to investigate the ethical judgements of consumers
across a broad multi-cultural cross-section of the adult population. The current
exploratory study was designed specifically to address this research need.
The present study will go beyond the previous research of Wilkes (1978) in
that it will examine personality factors such as ethical ideologies and
Machiavellianism in addition to attitudes towards potentially unethical
consumer practices. In addition, this study will expand previous research (i.e.
Muncy and Vitell, 1992; Vitell et al., 1991) in that it examines the consumer's
ethical beliefs in a less developed country (Egypt) as compared to those of
consumers in a more developed country (USA).
Moral philosophies Consumer ethics:
According to modern business ethics theories (e.g. Ferrell and Gresham, 1985; ^ cross-cultural
Ferrell et al, 1989; Hunt and Vitell, 1986,1992), it is generally assumed that investigatiotl
different individuals, when faced with decision situations having ethical
content, will apply ethical guidelines or rules based on different moral
philosophies. In general, these moral philosophies can be categorized into two
major types, deontological and teleological (e.g. Murphy and Laczniak, 1981). 753
These two types of moral philosophies were distinguished by Hunt and Vitell -——^^^^^^—
(1986, p. 6) this way: "deontological theories focus on the specific actions or
behaviors of an individual, whereas teleological theories focus on the
consequences of the actions or behaviors".
Hunt and Vitell (1986) desaibe deontological evaluation as the process where
one evaluates the inherent rightness or wrongness of an evoked set of
alternatives that he/she views as possible courses of action; this evaluation
process involves comparing possible behaviours with a set of predetermined
deontological norms or predetermined guidelines that represent personal
values or rules of behaviour. As for the teleological evaluation process,
individuals will evaluate possible behaviours by considering:
(1) the perceived consequences of each alternative for various stakeholder
groups;
(2) the probability that each consequence will occur to each stakeholder
group;
(3) the desirability or undesirability of each consequence; and
(4) the importance of each stakeholder group (Hunt and Vitell, 1986, p. 9).
In both their original and their revised ethics model. Hunt and Vitell (1986,1992)
depict the ethical decision making process as involving both deontological and
teleological evaluations. This proposition has generally received support (Mayo
and Marks, 1990; Vitell, 1986; Vitell and Hunt, 1990).

Personal characteristics
Various personality characteristics will be examined in this study. Several
hundred studies have examined Machiavellianism, including several that have
researched the degree of Machiavellianism among current and future business
executives (Chonko, 1982; Hegarty and Sims, 1978; Hunt and Chonko, 1984;
Singhapakdi and Vitell, 1990). However, no previous studies have attempted to
compare the extent of Machiavellianism among consumers of different cultures.
In describing Machiavellianism, Hunt and Chonko (1984, p. 30), noted that
"the label Machiavellian [is] becoming a negative epithet, indicating at least an
amoral (if not immoral) way of manipulating others to accomplish one's
objectives". It would be inappropriate, however, to equate "Machiavellian" with
such extreme labels like "dishonest" or "deceitful". Christie and Geis (1970),
based on their studies, cautioned against this interpretation. More
appropriately, Machiavellian persons possess a kind of cool detachment that
European makes them less emotionally involved with others or with saving face in
Journal potentially embarrassing situations. This lack of involvement with others,
of Marketing perhaps, leads the more Machiavellian individual to be more accepting of
31,11/12 potentially less ethical consumer practices. The Christie and Geis (1970) Mach
rv scale was used to measure Machiavellianism.
The deontological/teleological paradigm is parallel to Forsyth's (1980) two-
754 dimensional personal moral philosophies concept of idealism/relativism.
Forsyth (1980) conceptualizes relativism as the degree to which an individual
rejects universal moral rules when making ethical judgements. As he explained,
relativistic individuals "reject the possibility of formulating or relying on
universal moral rules when drawing conclusions about moral questions"
(p. 175). This is essentially a teleological perspective. Idealism is conceptualized
by Forsyth (1980, p. 176) as the degree to which the individuals "assume that
desirable consequences can, with the 'right' action, always be obtained".
Forsyth asserted that idealistic individuals adhere to moral absolutes when
making moral judgements. This is essentially a deontological perspective.
Forsyth (1980) developed a classification system, based on this
idealism/relativism dichotomy, in which he divides people into four different
ethical types using his two scales. When combined, these two scales generate
the following ethical types: situationists, absolutists, subjectivists and
exceptionists.
"Situationists" are those who reject moral rules while asking if their actions
yield the best possible outcomes given the situation. These individuals would
use deception if it yielded the best possible outcome in a situation. Thus, these
individuals are essentially following a teleological perspective. "Absolutists"
believe that their actions are moral only if they yield positive consequences
through conformity to moral absolutes. They believe that deception is always
wrong since it violates fundamental moral principles. Therefore, the
"absolutists" are strict deontologists. "Subjectivists" are those who reject moral
rules and base their moral judgement on personal feelings about their actions.
They tend to be teleologists, believing that deception is a personal matter to be
decided on by the individual. Finally, "exceptionists" believe that if deception
cannot be avoided, then it is allowable as long as safeguards are used (Forsyth
and Pope, 1984).
As stated, this typology is based on the combination of two scales, idealism
and relativism. Idealism is the overall acceptance of moral absolutes while
relativism is the rejection of universal moral principles. This typology relates to
a consumer's ethical beliefs since "absolutists" tend to have the most rigid
ethical belief systems while "subjectivists" have the most flexible ones.
"Situationists" and "exceptionists" are found between these two extremes in
terms of their ethical beliefs. Thus, Forsyth's (1980) ethics position
questionnaire was considered appropriate to measure one's preferred ethical
ideology in the present study.
Objectives of the study Consumer ethics:
The present study has the following specific research objectives: a cross-cultural
(1) To examine the difference between US and Egyptian consumers with investigation
regard to their perceptions of various potentially unethical consumer
situations. (This is an extension of the work of Wilkes (1978), and Muncy
and Vitell (1992) to a cross-cultural setting.)
755
(2) To examine the difference between US and Egyptian consumers with
regard to the extent of Machiavellianism and their preferred ethical
ideology. (This is an extension of the work of Vitell et al (1991) to a cross-
cultural setting.)
(3) To develop an ethical profile of both US and Egyptian consumers based
on ethical beliefs, preferred ethical ideology, and the degree of
Machiavellianism.

Methodology
Sample
The sample used to conduct this study consists of two subsamples, one from the
US population and one from Egypt. Eor the US subsample, a mailing list of
1,600 consumers of a large Southeastern metropolitan area was purchased and
self-administered questionnaires were mailed to all 1,600 residents appearing
on this list. Of these, 431 responses were returned for a response rate of 27 per
cent, with 394 being usable for the purpose of this study. Seventy-two per cent
of the respondents were married with 70 per cent being male. Thirty-three per
cent of the respondents had only a high school education while 34 per cent had
a college degree.
A convenience sample of 500 Egyptian consumers living in a major Egyptian
city was utilized for the Egyptian subsample. A questionnaire similar to the one
administered in the USA was translated into Arabic by two college professors
fluent in both Arabic and English. The back translation technique was utilized
to check validity (Fink, 1963; Werner and Campbell, 1970).
Because of the lack of a dependable postal service, the questionnaire was
hand delivered to this subsample. Ten days following the delivery, the
questionnaires were collected; of the 500 questionnaires delivered, 348 were
returned for a response rate of 69.6 per cent, with 318 being usable for the
purpose of the study. Forty per cent of the subsample were married with 58 per
cent being male. Twenty-four per cent of those surveyed had only a high school
education, while 67 per cent had a college degree.
A comparison between this subsample and the US subsample shows this
subsample to be younger, with fewer married people, and better educated than
the US subsample. With respect to gender the two subsamples are comparable,
although the Egyptian sample had a somewhat lower percentage of males.
While we recognize the inherent problems in comparing these two
subsamples, we would like to defend our sampling techniques by emphasizing
the exploratory nature of this study and the difficulty of conducting survey
European research within a multi-cultural setting. As Tuncalp (1988) points out, in
Journal reference to a neighbouring Middle Eastern country, "it is a formidable, if not
impossible, task to draw probabilistic samples" (p. 18). In addition, he states
of Marketing that convenience sampling is an appropriate technique for exploratory research
31,11/12 designed to gain a better understanding of the market and the consumer.
Additionally, he advocates the hand-delivery of questionnaires rather than mail
756 or telephone interviewing. All of Tuncalp's recommendations are consistent
with the procedures followed in the present study for the Egyptian subsample.

Measurement of constructs
The "consumer ethics" scale, measuring one's beliefs regarding 18 consumer
situations having ethical implications, was developed by Muncy and Vitell
(1989,1992) and validated in a later study by Vitell et al (1991). These 18 items
are listed in the Appendix. These items were measured on a five-point scale
with 1 indicating "strongly believe that it is wrong" and 5 indicating "strongly
believe that it is not wrong".
This construct was measured along four dimensions. The first dimension
was "actively benefiting from an illegal activity". The most distinguishing
characteristics of these actions are that they are initiated by the consumer (e.g.
changing price tags on merchandise in a store) and they are all likely to be
perceived as illegal by most consumers. The second dimension, "passively
benefiting at the expense of others", is where the consumer benefits from the
seller's mistake (e.g. getting too much change and not saying anything) rather
than from his or her own actions. Third, "actively benefiting from questionable,
but not necessarily illegal action", is where the consumer initiates the action,
but involves those actions that are not as likely to be perceived as illegal (e.g. not
telling the truth when negotiating the price of a new automobile). Finally, the
fourth dimension can be identified as "no harm/no foul". These are actions that
consumers perceive as resulting in little or no harm, and, therefore, many
consumers perceive them as acceptable actions.
Machiavellianism was measured using the Mach IV scale developed by
Christie and Geis (1970). This scale contains 20 items with ten items worded in
a Machiavellian direction and ten items worded in the opposite direction (see
Appendix for the specific items). Each respondent was asked to indicate either
agreement or disagreement with each of the 20 items using a five-point Likert
scale where a 5 indicated strong agreement. A Cronbach's alpha coefficient of
0.623 for the US sample and 0.574 for the Egyptian sample was obtained for this
scale. This compares well to one of 0.76 obtained by Hunt and Chonko (1984) in
a study of marketing practitioners and a split-half reliability of 0.79 reported by
Christie and Geis (1970) using a student sample. Thus, the scale appears to be
reliable.
As mentioned, one's predominant ethical ideology or perspective was
measured using the ethics position questionnaire developed by Forsyth (1980).
This consists of two scales, each containing ten items (see the Appendix); one is
designed to measure idealism, the acceptance of moral absolutes, and the
second is designed to measure relativism, or the rejection of universal moral Consumer ethics:
principles. Respondents were asked to indicate their agreement or cross-cultural
disagreement with each item using a five-point Likert format where a 5 investigation
indicated strong agreement with a statement. All questions were worded in a
positive direction. Cronbach's coefficient alpha for the US sample was 0.849 for
the idealism scale and 0.830 for the relativism scale. For the Egyptian sample
coefficient alpha was 0.763 for idealism and 0.787 for relativism. Table I 757
summarizes the reliabilities for each of the scales in this study.

USA Egypt
Number of Number of
Construct items Alpha items Alpha

Actively benefiting from illegal activity 5 0.760 4 0.723


Passively benefiting 4 0.755 3 0.696
Actively benefiting from questionable action 4 0.730 1 -
No harm/no foul 5 0.747 3 0.473
Machiavellianism 20 0.623 19 0.574
Idealism 10 0.849 10 0.763 Table I.
Relativism 10 0.830 9 0.787 Reliability of measures

Statistical methodology
The difference between US and Egyptian consumer ethics was investigated as
follows. First, a test of group mean differences (^test) was performed to gain a
preliminary understanding of the difference between the two groups along the
various dimensions of ethical beliefs, Machiavellianism, and the ethical
ideologies construct. This was performed to answer the first two research
objectives. Second, a discriminant analysis was performed with the two
nationality groups (US and Egyptian) as dependent, categorical variables and
the four dimensions of the ethical beliefs construct, the Machiavellianism
construct, and the two dimensions of the ethical ideology construct as
independent variables. The purpose of this analysis was to determine how the
two groups differed in a pair-wise fashion on each of the predictor variables
considered, and to determine an ethical profile of each of the two groups. In
short, this was designed to address the third research objective.

Findings
Differences between US and Egyptian consumers
As mentioned, the first two research questions, "to examine the difference
between US and Egyptian consumers with regard to their perceptions of
various potentially unethical consumer situations, [and]... with regard to the
extent of Machiavellianism and their preferred ethical ideology", were
investigated by examining the differences in the mean responses for the two
European groups along the various dimensions of the three constructs. Table II shows the
Journal results of the ^tests and the differences found between the two groups.
of Marketing Concerning the ethical beliefs of consumers, US and Egyptian consumers
were found to differ significantly in three out of the four dimensions of the
31,11/12 ethical beliefs scale. Specifically, US consumers were found to believe that
"actively benefiting from illegal actions" is more unethical. However, no
758 significant difference was found between the two groups regarding "passively
benefiting at the expense of others". Nevertheless, compared to the first
dimension, both groups apparently believed that passively benefiting from an
illegal action is less wrong than actively doing something to benefit oneself.
While US consumers considered "actively benefiting from questionable but
not necessarily illegal actions" to be clearly unethical, Egyptian consumers
seemed to be less sure about the unethicality of these activities. However, while
there was a significant difference between the two groups on this dimension, it
was difficult to compare this dimension as three of the four items had to be
dropped from the Egyptian questionnaire.
Additionally, US consumers were somewhat neutral in their beliefs about
whether actions included in the "no harm/no foul" dimension were ethical or
unethical. However, the average Egyptian consumer tended to believe that such
behaviours were somewhat acceptable. Overall, it appeared that US consumers
were inclined to view all types of "questionable actions" as more unethical than
Egyptian consumers.

Group means
Ethical dimension USA Egypt 7-value

Actively benefiting from illegal action 1.18 1.50 -7.48*


(0.343) (0.727)
Passively benefiting 1.50 1.53 -0.70
(0.486) (0.803)
Actively benefiting from questionable actions 1.68 1.93 -3.74*
(0.633) (1.11)
No harm/no foul 2.84 3.24 -5.91*
(0.893) (0.910)
Machiavellianism 2.53 2.58 -1.52
(0.418) (0.460)
Idealism 4.03 4.30 -5.29*
(0.685) (0.646)
Relativism 2.60 2.73 -1.93*
(0.882) (0.914)
Note: For the Machiavellian, idealism and relativism scales a higher score indicates that
respondents agree more with the items of that scale. For the other scales a higher score indicates
Table n. that respondents believe that the items of the scale are not wrong
Differences between US *significantati) = 0.000
and Egyptian consumers **significant at/) = 0.054
Concerning one's ethical ideology, no statistically significant differences (using Consutner ethics:
the 0.05 level) were found between the two groups with regard to their ^ cross-cultural
acceptance of relativism; however, US consumers were less likely to accept the investigation
absolutism of idealism. While both US and Egyptian consumers generally
believed that morally right behaviour leads to good or positive consequences
(idealism scale), Egyptian consumers were more idealistic in their beliefs.
Finally, there was virtually no difference between the US consumers and the 759
Egyptian consumers in terms of their acceptance or rejection of ^ ^ ^ ~ " " " ^ ^ ^ ^
Machiavellianism.
Since there were some differences in the demographic composition of the two
samples, ^tests were also performed for selected subgroups of each sample. For
example, the seven scales were compared for males from both samples and for
females, individually. The results for males were essentially the same as those
for the complete samples; however, Egyptian females tended to be significantly
more Machiavellian than US females. This result for females differs from that
for the overall samples. Nevertheless, since this was the only deviation from the
overall results, gender differences in the two samples probably had little effect
on the overall differences between US and Egyptian consumers.
Additionally, a comparison of older (over 40 years) consumers from the two
samples, revealed the same results as for the complete samples, indicating that
age differences in the samples were unlikely to be the cause of differences
between US and Egyptian consumers. Finally, comparisons were made based
on the level of education. These revealed that, for those with only a high school
degree, the Egyptians were more Machiavellian and more relativistic than the
US consumers, and there was no difference in terms of their degree of idealism.
However, for those with a college degree, the Egyptians were more idealistic
while there were no differences in terms of Machiavellianism and relativism.
These results indicate that differences in educational levels between the two
samples might have accounted for some of the overall differences.
Since the Egyptian sample included such a high percentage of college-
educated consumers, it is possible that these individuals might differ from the
average Egyptian in terms of their ethical beliefs. More specifically, better
educated consumers are likely to be at a higher level of cognitive moral
development and, therefore, their ethical behaviours and beliefs may be more
ethical as well.

Profile of US and Egyptian consumers


A discriminant analysis was conducted using the two country groups (US and
Egypt) as dependent variables and the seven ethical "scales" as predictor
variables to determine whether the latter could be used to discriminate between
the two groups. This was done to answer the third research question which
was, "to develop an ethical profile of both US and Egyptian consumers based on
ethical beliefs, preferred ethical ideology, and degree of Machiavellianism".
A discriminant function was derived and the resulting function was
subjected to a chi-square test to determine the significance of the function.
European Examination of the group centroids revealed that they were significantly
Journal different since a chi-square of 143.621 (with 7 degrees of freedom) was obtained.
of Marketing The size of the group centroids indicate that US consumers appear to be
generally somewhat more ethical (group centroid = -0.688) than their Egyptian
31,11/12 counterparts (group centroid = 0.457).
Table III reveals that the cross-validated discriminant functions correctly
760 classified both US consumers and Egyptian consumers at a level well beyond
that of chance. A total of 55 per cent of the US group and 83 per cent of the
Egyptian group were correctly classified with a resulting hit ratio of 72 per cent.
Comparing this ratio to the compacted overall classification criterion of 60 per
cent, shows the discriminant function to be a valid predictor of the two group
differences.

Actual Predicted group Actual total Correct classification


group USA(l) Egypt (2) of cases percentage

USA(l) 116 95 211 55.0


Table HI. Egypt (2) 55 263 318 82.7
Classification matrix for
US and Egyptian
Predicted total 171 358 529
consumers Note: Percentage of grouped cases correctly classified (hit-ratio) = 71.64 per cent

In addition, further determination of the ethical factors that differentiate


between US and Egyptian consumers was made by testing the differences
between the group means for each of the seven independent variables. Table FV
shows the means, standard deviations and the associated F-ratio for the
predictor variables.
As Table IV indicates, significant differences were found between the two
groups for each of the ethical belief scales with the exception of "passively
benefiting". That is, differences in beliefs regarding the factors "actively
benefiting from illegal actions", "actively benefiting from questionable but not
necessarily illegal actions", and "no harm/no foul" were helpful in predicting
whether a consumer was from the US or Egypt. For all three types of actions,
US consumers were likely to believe that these actions were more unethical
when compared to Egyptian consumers.
These differences between US and Egyptian consumers might be attributed
to various factors. For example, differences in terms of consumer awareness and
education in the US as compared to Egypt could be a factor. In the US, as the
economy has moved to its current stage of post-industrialization, public policy
concerns have shifted to the consumer and away from the producer. Consumers
have demanded more rights and received them as a result of both identifiable
consumer movements (e.g. the 1930s, 1960s and 1970s) and a gradual process of
shifting power in the marketplace. This has also resulted in increasing
Group means Significance Disc
Consumer ethics:
Ethical dimension USA Egypt tests loading Rank a cross-cultural
investigation
Group centroids -0.688 0.457 143.62^
Independent predictors:
Actively benefiting from illegal action 1.17 1.50 42.84''* 0.507 1
(0.343) (0.727)
761
Passively benefiting 1.50 1.53 0.72 0.406 2
(0.486) (0.803)
Actively benefiting from questionable action 1.68 1.93 7.71 0.334 3
(0.633) (1.11)
No harm/no foul 2.84 3.24 18.56* 0.215 4
(0.893) (0.910)
Machiavellianism 2.53 2.58 1.70 0.182 5
(0.418) (0.460)
Idealism 4.03 4.30 27.39* 0.100 6
(0.685) (0.646)
Relativism 2.60 2.73 5.53* 0.021 7
(0.882) (0.914)
Notes: ''The test for the equality of group centroids is a generalized chi-square test Table IV.
(chi square = 143.62, di = 7); x ^ is significant beyond the 0.0000 level Results of discriminant
"The test for the independent variables is a univariate F-ratio analysis: ranking of the
*all significant atp = 0.005 level predictor variables

responsibilities for the consumer in the USA and the emergence of a well
established ethical framework that guides the behaviour of market participants.
Additionally, this ethical framework is supported by a well developed legal
system that details the consequences of violating the existing ethical
framework.
However, in less developed countries such as Egypt, the private sector is
preoccupied with keeping sufficient throughput within a seller's market. The
picture that emerges is a final consumer fighting the problems of inflation, low
wages and economic hardship. Their concerns are limited to mere survival in
difficult times rather than the pursuit of higher societal needs such as
consumerism. As Tuncalp (1988) points out, there is a deep sense of fatalism as
compared to the "master of destiny" philosophy of the USA. The end-result of
all of this is a lack of concern for the consumer's wellbeing, and rights and
responsibilities by all concerned as well as the lack of a comprehensive, well
defined and understood ethical framework that could aid in articulating ethical
standards.
Another factor that could explain the difference in ethical beliefs between the
two consumer groups is cultural values. While the capitalist philosophy is
dominant in the USA and is built on values such as materialism, individualism,
equality, efficiency and practicality that are conducive to consumer activism.
European Egyptian culture is built on values such as fatalism, collectivism, passivism
Journal and submission to authority (Akaah, 1990). These values limit consumer
of Marketing involvement and the establishment of a clear ethical framework. They may lead
to a more cynical consumer who feels helpless when dealing in the marketplace.
31,11/12 Table IV also shows that there are no statistically significant differences
between US consumers and Egyptian consumers with regard to the extent of
762 Machiavellianism that they exhibit. That is, Machiavellianism cannot be used
to predict whether or not a consumer is from Egypt or the USA. The low mean
scores for both groups tend to indicate that neither is generally very
Machiavellian. While the lack of Machiavellianism displayed by the two
cultures is not enough to suggest the existence of a universal rejection of this
perspective, these results warrant the continued examination of
Machiavellianism in future research using other cultures.
Finally, there were significant differences between the ethical ideologies of
US and Egyptian consumers. Both idealism and relativism can be used to help
predict whether a consumer is Egyptian or North American. While both US and
Egyptian consumers generally believe that morally right behaviour leads to
good or positive consequences (idealism scale), Egyptian consumers are
significantly more idealistic in their ethical beliefs. It also appears that both
groups reject ethical relativism and, therefore, accept the notion that absolute
moral principles exist. However, Egyptian consumers were somewhat more
relativistic than US consumers.

Conclusions and limitations


The study's findings indicate that US consumers are different from Egyptian
consumers in terms of their ethical beliefs concerning various questionable
consumer practices and their preferred ethical ideology, but that they are
similar regarding the extent of Machiavellianism they display. These findings
are not surprising considering the wide economic and cultural differences
existing between these two countries and the cities where the two samples were
taken. Economic hardship, strict cultural values and the influence of religion
characterize parts of the Middle East, and may make it difficult to assess the
validity of the responses from Egyptian consumers. Some respondents may
have simply provided the socially desirable response in order to appear ethical.
Indeed, the likelihood of such a possibility has been expressed by other cross-
cultural researchers in marketing ethics (Akaah, 1990). Of course, it is certainly
possible that the US respondents might have done this as well.
A further limitation to the present study is the fact that the study was
conducted in a single Middle Eastern country (Egypt) that is currently
experiencing economic, political and social problems, all of which may affect
the mood of the consumers and the direction of their responses. It was also
conducted within only a single metropolitan area in the USA. A further
limitation would be the demographic differences of the two samples. All of this,
however, does not negate the significance of this study; indeed, at this
exploratory stage of research, generalizations cannot usually be made.
Future research should be conducted to determine the generalizability of the Consumer ethics:
results of this study by investigating consumer ethics in economically well off ^ cross-cultural
Middle Eastern countries with fewer social and political problems than those investigation
being experienced presently in Egypt. Another avenue of research suggested by
this study would be to investigate how consumer ethics vary across cultures
based on the type of ethical problems faced (e.g. actively benefiting from vs.
passively benefiting from illegal actions). Finally, relating a consumer's 763
demographics (e.g. age, income, education) to various ethical dimensions would
be helpful in understanding, explaining and predicting consumer ethics across
cultures.

Implications
The findings of this study have important implications. For example, for
Egyptian public policy makers, given that Egyptian consumers are more
relativistic and more accepting of questionable consumer practices, it is
important that "consumer ethics" education programmes be designed and
implemented in this region of the world. Such programmes could include public
funding for consumer education in areas like seeking recourse in cases of
dissatisfaction, and obtaining and using product information. These
programmes would not only heighten consumers' awareness as to their rights
but, more importantly, as to their responsibilities and obligations as consumers.
In addition, the issuing of legislation protecting the consumer as well as making
the consumer accountable for unethical conduct is needed, along with the
strengthening of existing consumer agencies.
Additionally, the greater acceptance of questionable consumer actions by the
Egyptian consumers combined with a higher level of idealism might indicate
that while the Egyptian consumers are inherently no less ethical than US
consumers, they are more accepting of "unethical" consumer behaviours in the
marketplace. This may be because they perceive that marketers do not treat
them ethically. That is, consumers may tend to emulate the ethics of marketers
when they shop. Thus, honest advertising and quality products can go a long
way towards creating an atmosphere of trust and virtue for marketplace
exchanges between marketers and consumers. The fact that the Egyptian
consumers were more relativistic tends to support this.
Multinational firms must take into consideration the ethical backgrounds
and perspectives of the consumers within whose countries they are operating.
They need to prepare foreign managers for overseas assignments by orienting
them to differing values in the host country and by providing them with
appropriate policies for dealing with those differing values.
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Appendix. List of scale items
(NE = not used in Egyptian sample due to lack of cultural relevance.)

Consumer ethics scale


Actively benefiting from illegal activity:
(1) Drinking a can of soda in a supermarket without paying for it.
(2) Using a long distance code that does not belong to you (NE).
(3) Giving misleading price information to a clerk for an unpriced item.
(4) Reporting a lost item as "stolen" to an insurance company in order to collect the money.
(5) Changing price-tags on merchandise in a retail store.

Passively benefiting:
(1) Not saying anything when the waitress miscalculates the bill in your favor.
(2) Getting too much change and not saying anything.
(3) Lying about a child's age in order to get a lower price.
European (4) Moving into a new residence and finding that the cable TV is still hooked up, and using
it rather than signing up and paying for it (NE).
Journal
of Marketing Actively benefiting from questionable action:
31,11/12 (1) Stretching the truth on an income tax return (NE).
(2) Using a coupon for merchandise you did not buy (NE).
766 (3) Using an expired coupon for merchandise (NE).
(4) Not telling the truth when negotiating the price of a new automobile.

No harm/ no foul:
(1) Taping a movie off the television.
(2) Returning merchandise after trying it and not liking it (NE).
(3) Recording an album instead of buying it.
(4) Using computer software or games that you did not buy.
(5) Spending over an hour trying on different dresses and not purchasing any.

Machiavellian scale
(1) Never tell anyone the real reason you did something unless it is useful to do so.
(2) The best way to handle people is to tell them what they want to hear.
(3) One should take action only when sure it is morally right.
(4) Most people are basically good and kind.
(5) It is safest to assume that all people have a vicious streak and it will come out when given
the chance.
(6) Honesty is the best policy in all cases.
(7) There is no excuse for lying to someone else.
(8) Generally speaking, people will not work hard unless they are forced to do so.
(9) All in all, it is better to be humble and honest than to be important and dishonest.
(10) When you ask someone to do something for you, it is best to give the real reasons for
wanting it rather than giving reasons which carry more weight.
(11) People who get ahead in the world lead clean, moral lives.
(12) Anyone who completely trusts others is asking for big trouble.
(13) The biggest difference between criminals and others is that the criminals are stupid
enough to get caught.
(14) Most people are brave.
(15) It is wise to flatter important people.
(16) It is possible to be good in all respects.
(17) Barnum was wrong when he said that there is a sucker born every minute (NE).
(18) It is hard to get ahead without cutting corners.
(19) People suffering from incurable diseases should have the choice of being put painlessly C o n S U m e r ethicS!
'° '^^^^^ a cross-cultural
(20) Most people forget more easily the death of their father than the loss of their property. investigation

Ethics position questionnaire


Idealism scale
7f»7
(1) A person should make certain that their actions never intentionally harm another even to t\ji
a small degree. ^^^^^^^^^^^
(2) Risks to another should never be tolerated, irrespective of how small the risks might be.
(3) The existence of potential harm to others is always wrong, irrespective of the benefits to
be gained.
(4) One should never psychologically or physically harm another.
(5) One should not perform an action which might in any way threaten the dignity and
welfare of another individual.
(6) If an action could harm an innocent other, then it should not be done.
(7) Deciding whether or not to perform an act by balancing the positive consequences of the
act against the negative consequences of the act is immoral.
(8) The dignity and welfare of people should be the most important concern in any society.
(9) It is never necessary to sacrifice the welfare of others.
(10) Moral actions are those which closely match ideals of the most "perfect" action.

Relativism scale
(1) There are no ethical principles that are so important that they should be a part of any
code of ethics.
(2) What is ethical VEiries from one situation and society to another.
(3) Moral standards should be seen as being individualistic; what one person considers to be
moral may be judged to be immoral by another person.
(4) Different types of moralities cannot be compared as to "rightness" (NE).
(5) What is ethical for everyone can never be resolved since what is moral or immoral is up
to the individual.
(6) Moral standards are simply personal rules which indicate how a person should behave,
and are not to be applied in making judgements of others.
(7) Ethical considerations in interpersonal relations are so complex that individuals should
be allowed to formulate their own individual codes.
(8) Rigidly codifying an ethical position that prevents certain types of action stands in the
way of better human relations and adjustment.
(9) No rule concerning lying can be formulated; whether a lie is permissible or not
permissible totally depends on the situation.
(10) Whether a lie is judged to be moral or immoral depends on the circumstances
surrounding the action.