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Online Shopping and Ethical Consumption

Electronic commerce has experienced a dramatic growth in the recent years. This trend should continue in the next years as global e-commerce sales are expected to surpass 2,5 trillion $ in 2016 (they amounted to 1,25 trillion $ in 2013, Emarketer 2014).

Parallel to that phenomenon, a prolific and versatile research has investigated the determinants of the choice to purchase online instead of offline. Literature generally examines hedonic and utilitarian motives such as convenience, shopping experience or the price advantage to explain the benefits of online shopping.

Nevertheless, whereas the literature on e-commerce adoption is vast, no research so far considered ethics-related aspects as a possible hurdle to e-commerce adoption. As scandals about e-retailers’ unethical practices hit the headlines (eg. Die Zeit, 2013; Süddeutsche 2013; Seattle Times 2012), one may wonder whether consumer’s perceived ethicality of e-commerce also impacts their decision to buy online. This hypothesis would support recent research in ethical consumption, highlighting a growing concern for ethically produced products.

Especially questions regarding drivers and hurdles to e-commerce adoption, but also insights concerning the importance of ethics-related aspects can be promising and valuable topics for a Bachelor or a Master Thesis.