Bound Volume Number


Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-5-2015

Capstone Advisor

Prof. Breagin Riley and Prof. Julie Niederhoff

Honors Reader

Prof. Alejandro Amezcua

Capstone Major


Capstone College


Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories


Subject Categories



Technology’s growing influence on the daily lives of individuals in modern society is ubiquitous. The increased demand for transparency in business has affected not only consumer perception but the ethical strategies of firms as well. Today, consumer trends illustrate the importance of ethically sourced products and services. They use the platform of technology to gather and disseminate company information and discuss their satisfaction, or lack thereof, with the ethical strategies of firms. This higher value placed on ethical practices and transparency has transformed our previous viewpoint of conventional business. Firms must be able to meet the demands of consumers to maintain long-term success and create value for the consumer.

This thesis examines the relationship between the ethical behavior of firms and consumer perceptions. The significance of technology lies in the firm’s ability to engage with consumers and promote their ethical practices. From this, consumers are able to gather and disseminate information to form their perceptions of the firm. Firms that mismanage their reputation can fall victim to consumers gaining social control of the brand. However, it is argued that the level of consequence a firm experiences from questionable ethical practices is related to the type of business system in which it functions.

Literature review is analyzed to lay the foundation for key concepts in developing ethics for individuals as well as in a firm. A case study on the Monsanto Company, an American multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology corporation, will also be used to investigate the issue. Monsanto has recently become the face of corporate evil due to multiple cases of documented questionable ethical acts and legal battles. Given that the end consumer only interacts with the channel partners of Monsanto, we conclude that the consequences transfer to those intermediaries. These firms whose raw materials are supplied by Monsanto have begun to rely on the firm to achieve cost efficiencies in business operations. Monsanto’s partners place more importance on the business value the product provides for them, rather than their practices in other areas. Monsanto still remains profitable and untouched. We can conclude that this is due to the ease in concealing unethical behavior, as there is less available information about the actions in the supply chain of business-to-business firms.

The ethical strategy of a firm can simply be one aspect in a consumer’s decision-making process when purchasing a good or service. Modern consumers not only expect, but also favor firms that appear genuinely interested in utilizing their profits to give back to the community. However, the implementation of the strategy can determine the success in the image of the firm very quickly. Firms interacting at a level that is closer to the consumer are more influenced by customer perception in comparison to those that interact through an intermediary.

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