Toward a circular economy: Understanding consumers' moral stance on corporations' and individuals' responsibilities in creating a circular fashion economy

Chung Wha Ki, Sangsoo Park, Jung E. Ha-Brookshire

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


For long, the fashion industry has adopted the linear economy's “take-make-use-throwaway” system, an approach that has adverse side effects, such as economic loss, environmental destruction, and threats to human society. To address these adverse consequences from fashion's linear system, governments and business leaders are advocating the societal need for a shift from the linear economy to the circular economy, which endorses the “take-make-use-reuse” system. Despite the growing demand for changing to a circular economy in the fashion business (circular fashion [CF]), two critical issues remain understudied in the current literature. First, although academic research on CF has increased in the past 5 years, the lack of scalable CF research has hindered the industry's ability to increase its adoption of a truly circular economy. Second, although the fashion industry faces complex challenges in instituting CF in that just one supply chain member's (a fashion retailer's) commitment is not sufficient to create a truly CF without the involvement of others (consumers), there is yet no empirical research that investigates whether consumers morally support the idea of a CF and feel obliged to take part in fashion businesses' CF offerings. Thus, we investigate whether and how morally grounded traits—corporate moral responsibility (H1+), consumer moral responsibility (H2+), their interaction effect (H3), and corporate hypocrisy (H4−)—influence consumers' attitudes and engagement (H5+) toward fashion corporations' CF offerings. Our empirical evidence, using a U.S. consumer survey dataset of 351 responses, shows that all of these hypotheses are supported. The results provide important theoretical and managerial implications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1121-1135
Number of pages15
JournalBusiness Strategy and the Environment
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • circular economy
  • circular fashion
  • environmental policy
  • fashion consumer
  • moral responsibility
  • Moral Responsibility Theory of Corporate Sustainability
  • stakeholder engagement
  • sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

Cite this