marketplace morality 1


Morality has received increasing attention from economists, psychologists, anthropologists, sociologists, and consumer researchers. Consumers’ morally questionable behaviors (such as wardrobing and overclaiming on insurance, sabotage behavior, counterfeit consumption behavior) have big impacts on companies and consumers respond strongly to organizations’ morally suspect behaviors. On the other side, consumers’ and organizations’ moral behaviors can lead to positive marketplace effects. However, many questions about how consumers and/or organizations define morality and evaluate their own moral behaviors as well as those of other consumers/organizations and of marketers remain.

This assignment seeks to move beyond an explanation of self-interest to advance our understanding of morality in the marketplace. How do consumers/organizations define morality; what do they perceive as right versus wrong in the marketplace; when do these concerns arise, and why? Do definitions of morality differ when applied to other consumers or to marketplace entities such as firms or the government? Do consumers/organizations perceive any of their own behaviors as immoral? If so, how do consumers/organizations reconcile their immoral behavior with their self-concept? What are the emotional consequences of moral and morally suspect behaviors? Which moral considerations, such as harm, fairness, loyalty, authority, sanctity, and oppression, are of particular relevance to moral judgments in the marketplace? Concepts relevant to marketplace morality may include but are not limited to: tradeoffs, moral licensing and compensation, justification, forgiveness, disengagement, identity, emotion, moral judgments, relationship versus transaction mindsets, awe, conflict and reconciliation. Below is a list of possible topics that would fit this assignment.

  • Moral versus Market economy mindsets
  • Perceptions of morality in the marketplace
  • Emotional drivers and consequences
  • Interpersonal versus Market principles
  • Trade-offs resulting in immoral behavior
  • Types of moral assessments on marketplace entities
  • Motivations for forgoing self-interest
  • Justifications for immoral behavior

Feel free to combine some topics. Definitely include “perceptions of morality in the marketplace”.

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