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Examining the role of empathy on third-country nationals’ foreign product purchase behaviour: A study of the growing international boycott against Israel

Tariq Abdullatif Halimi (Department of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Marketing, La Trobe Business School, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia)
Clare D’Souza (Department of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Marketing, La Trobe Business School, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia)
Gillian Sullivan-Mort (Department of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Marketing, La Trobe Business School, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia)

International Marketing Review

ISSN: 0265-1335

Article publication date: 13 November 2017

Abstract

Purpose

As the Arab/Muslim-Israeli animosity case is attracting international attention, citizens of non-Arab and non-Muslim countries around the world, referred to as third-country nationals (TCNs), are increasingly joining the boycott against Israel. The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of empathy for the citizens of the countries offended by Israel, namely Palestine and Lebanon, as a potential factor affecting TCNs decision to boycott Israeli products.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 20 in-depth interviews were conducted with non-Arab, non-Muslim, and non-Israeli informants from different national and religious backgrounds, supported by secondary data sources. The qualitative grounded theory approach was employed to analyse data in order to answer the research questions.

Findings

TCNs decision to boycott Israeli products is affected by their empathic concern for the citizens of Palestine and Lebanon rather than by animosity towards Israel. Such concern is evoked by their awareness of the animosity case and further strengthened by their self-transcendence/universalism values and interaction with the case which activate their altruism towards the citizens of the offended countries, and consequently motivates them to relieve or reduce the suffering of these citizens by avoiding Israeli products. Greater emphasis is given to the Arab/Muslim-Israeli animosity case as a result of the greater empathic emotional impact it generates compared to other cases.

Originality/value

This is an original attempt to distinguish empathy from animosity as a factor which can affect TCNs decision to buy from a country engaged in hostile actions against another country other than their own. As the boycott campaign against the country under examination is growing internationally, this study can help international marketers in setting strategies to either exploit or combat the boycott campaign.

Keywords

Citation

Halimi, T.A., D’Souza, C. and Sullivan-Mort, G. (2017), "Examining the role of empathy on third-country nationals’ foreign product purchase behaviour: A study of the growing international boycott against Israel", International Marketing Review, Vol. 34 No. 6, pp. 760-786. https://doi.org/10.1108/IMR-03-2015-0050

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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