Firms' Ethics, Consumer Boycotts, and Signalling

23 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2008

See all articles by Amihai Glazer

Amihai Glazer

University of California, Irvine - Department of Economics

Vesa Kanniainen

University of Helsinki - Department of Political and Economic Studies; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Panu Poutvaara

University of Helsinki - Department of Economics; Helsinki Center of Economic Research (HECER); CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 2008

Abstract

This paper develops a theory of consumer boycotts. Some consumers care not only about the products they buy but also about whether the firm behaves ethically. Other consumers do not care about the behavior of the firm but yet may like to give the impression of being ethical consumers. Consequently, to affect a firm's ethical behavior, moral consumers refuse to buy from an unethical firm. Consumers who do not care about ethical behavior may join the boycott to (falsely) signal that they do care. In the firm's choice between ethical and unethical behavior, the optimality of mixed and pure strategies depends on the cost of behaving ethically. In particular, when the cost is (relatively) low, ethical behavior arises from a prisoners' dilemma as the firm's optimal strategy.

Keywords: firm's ethical code, consumer morality, boycotts

JEL Classification: M14, D43

Suggested Citation

Glazer, Amihai and Kanniainen, Vesa and Poutvaara, Panu, Firms' Ethics, Consumer Boycotts, and Signalling (May 2008). IZA Discussion Paper No. 3498. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1139868 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.0042-7092.2007.00700.x

Amihai Glazer (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine - Department of Economics ( email )

3151 Social Science Plaza
Irvine, CA 92697-5100
United States
949-854-6563 (Phone)
949-824-2182 (Fax)

Vesa Kanniainen

University of Helsinki - Department of Political and Economic Studies ( email )

P.O. Box 54
FIN-00014 Helsinki
Finland
+358-0-9-1911 (Phone)
+358-0-191-8877 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.cesifo.de

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.CESifo.de

Panu Poutvaara

University of Helsinki - Department of Economics ( email )

P.O. Box 54
FIN-00014 Helsinki
Finland

HOME PAGE: http://www.valt.helsinki.fi/blogs/poutvaar/

Helsinki Center of Economic Research (HECER) ( email )

FI-00014 Helsinki
Finland

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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