There are two fundamental ways in which consumers can express their concerns and obligations for society through their consumption decisions: They can boycott companies that they deem to be irresponsible or they may deliberately buy from companies that they perceive to act responsibly (‘buycott’). It has been largely ignored that individuals are driven by different motivational mechanisms to join boycotts and buycotts (punishment vs. reward of corporate behaviors), and thus, these mechanisms have disparate implications for the participating individual (e.g., high vs. low subjective costs because of a restriction in consumption habits). This paper fills this void and develops a framework suggesting that the extent to which consumers translate their concerns and obligations for society into a willingness to boycott and/or buycott is bounded by self-interest. Using a unique, representative sample of 1833 German consumers, this study reveals that the effects of environmental concerns and universalism on buycotting are amplified by hedonism, while the effects of social concern on buycotting and boycotting are attenuated by hedonism and simplicity, respectively. These results have far-reaching implications for organizations and policy planners who aim to change corporate behavior.
Ecological Economics – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2018
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