Date of Award

Spring 2009

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)



First Advisor

Laura A. Flurry


Religion appears to play a very important role in people's lives in the United States. Some companies, however, continue to make business decisions which appear to be contrary to the value systems of a majority of consumers in the United States. Although past descriptive research has confirmed that religiousness influences consumers' and marketing managers' ethical judgments of their own behavior, this research has not explored the influence of religion in the buyer-seller dyad. To fill this gap in the consumer behavior literature, this study uses the Hunt-Vitell theory of ethics to help explain how consumers' religiosity influences their ethical judgments of controversial business decisions and examines if there is any spillover in consumers' marketplace behavior towards the firm.

To test the hypotheses of this study, structural equation modeling was used to analyze data obtained from a national consumer sample consisting of 531 respondents. Results demonstrated that consumers' ethical judgments of a controversial business decision are predominantly influenced by consumers' intra-personal religious (spiritual) commitment rather than their inter-personal (organizational) religious commitment. In addition, conservative Christian beliefs appear to contribute largely to the ethical judgments of Christian consumers.

Furthermore, results confirmed spillover in the marketplace and found that consumers' ethical judgments of a controversial business decision not only influence their complaint intentions, but also their intention to stay loyal to the firm. Managerial implications and directions for future research are provided.