Managerial and Public Attitudes Toward Ethics in Marketing Research

Journal of Business Ethics 109 (4):463-481 (2012)
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Abstract

This research updates and significantly extends Akaah and Riordon’s (J Market Res 26:112–120, 1989 ) evaluation of ethical perceptions of marketing research misconduct among marketing research professionals. In addition to examining changes in perceptions toward key marketing research practices over time, we assess professionals’ judgments on the ethicality, importance, and occurrence of a variety of new marketing research ethics situations in both online and offline contexts. In a second study, we assess ethical judgments of the public at large using a representative sample of US consumers—key stakeholders ignored in prior research on unethical marketing research practices. Generally speaking, disapproval of unethical research conduct has grown across the board in the last 20 years for both managers and marketing researchers. The same misconduct elicits a stronger disapproval in the online environment compared to the offline environment. Compared to marketing researchers, managers tend to think that unethical research conduct occurs more frequently. Those who conduct marketing research or use its findings (i.e., marketing researchers and managers) are less tolerant of unethical research conduct than the general public.

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