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A Theoretical Review of Business and Consumer Ethics Research: Normative and Descriptive Approaches

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This paper examines the extent and direction of theoretical development within ethics studies in marketplaces by reviewing studies of the two major approaches in the area: the normative and descriptive approach. The paper suggests that in general there has been an emphasis upon the seller's perspective (i.e. business ethics), and that the buyer's perspective (i.e. consumer ethics) has merely been taken up as a part of this perspective. Whilst this has helped theoretical development, it is argued that consumer ethics need be understood more on its own terms, and in particular lacks a holistic model of ethical decision-making in consumption. Overall, in providing an overview of the recent developments in this area of research, it is hoped that the paper will help researchers gain an understanding of recent theoretical insights and offer a constructive overview for those wishing to better define and refine methodological approaches to individual research questions.
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Keywords: BUSINESS ETHICS; CONSUMER ETHICS; DESCRIPTIVE APPROACHES; ETHICAL DECISION MAKING; ETHICAL THEORY; NORMATIVE APPROACHES; THEORETICAL DEVELOPMENT

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2003

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