Corporate Social Responsibility Beyond Borders: US Consumer Boycotts of a Global Company over Sweatshop Issues in Supplier Factories Overseas: An Abstract
The purpose of this research is to investigate the effect of moral foundations on US consumers’ boycotting intentions against the US company, which is involved in an alleged sweatshop issue at a supplier’s factory in a developing country. Drawing from moral foundations theory, the current study tests six hypotheses that showed the roles of blame attributions and anger in mediating the effect of consumers’ moral values on their boycott intentions. A survey using a representative sample of 1124 was conducted to test the proposed model. The results of a structural equation model analysis showed that individualizing foundations with a special focus on the fairness/care values turned out to be a stronger predictor of boycotts.
The causal impact of moral foundations was not so much direct as indirect, since the effect was mediated by blame attributions and anger. Notably, the current research showed that blame attributions and anger were important in mediating the effect of moral foundations on boycott intentions. In other words, the current study demonstrates that US consumers’ anti-sweatshop boycotts are most likely to occur among individuals of high individualizing moral values when they have the capacity to appraise the situation and identify who deserves blame, or when they are angered by the unfair treatment of employees overseas. The current study’s findings are consistent with the results of the consumer revenge model of Zourrig and his colleagues (2009) who identified theoretical linkages between the cognitive appraisal of moral values and revengeful behaviors mediated by blame attributions and negative emotions. When it comes to the influence of anger on boycott intentions, we confirmed that consumer anger could play a crucial role in triggering consumer boycott behaviors. The results are consistent with previous research (Braunsberger and Buckler 2011; John and Klein 2003; Lindenmeier et al. 2012; Makarem and Jae 2016; Xie et al. 2015).
The effects of binding foundations on blame attribution, anger, and boycott turned out to be nonsignificant. A plausible explanation is that individuals upholding binding foundations tend to be more harmonious with social order and conform to norms. Haidt and Graham (2007) noted that political conservatives have levels of ethical sensitivity differing from those of liberals. That is, conservatives are more concerned about community-oriented and duty-based morals, such as in-group/loyalty and authority/respect, than liberals are. Therefore, intuitively and promptly, individuals who possess high binding foundations would perceive boycotting behaviors as something against the current social system.