In recent years, the business ethics literature has exploded in both volume and importance. Because of the sheer volume and diversity of this literature, a review article was deemed necessary to provide focus and clarity to the area. The present paper reviews the literature on business ethics with a special focus in marketing ethics. The literature is divided into normative and empirical sections, with more emphasis given to the latter. Even though the majority of the articles deal with the American (...) reality, most of the knowledge gained is easily transferable to other nations. (shrink)
This study investigates the differences in ethical beliefs between blacks and whites in the United States. Two hundred and thirty four white students and two hundred and fifty five black students were presented with two scenarios and given the Reidenbach-Robin instrument measuring their ethical reactions to the scenarios.Contrary to previous research, the results indicate that the two groups, which belong to different subcultures, have similar ethical beliefs.
This study investigates the differences in the way bribery and extortion is perceived by two different cultures — American and Nigerian. Two hundred and forty American business students and one hundred and eighty Nigerian business students were presented with three scenarios describing a businessman offering a bribe to a government official and three scenarios describing a businessman being forced to pay a bribe to an official in order to do business. The Reidenbach-Robin instrument was used to measure the ethical reactions (...) of the two samples to these scenarios. Results indicate that ethical reactions to bribery and extortion vary by (a) the nationality of the person offering the bribe, and (b) the country where the bribe is offered. In addition, Nigerians perceived some of the scenarios as being less unethical than did Americans. (shrink)
The relative importance of the Jones’ [Jones, T. M.: 1991, Academy of Management Review 16(2), 366–395] six components of moral intensity was measured using a conjoint experimental design. The most important components influencing ethical perceptions were: probability of effect, magnitude of consequences, and temporal immediacy. Contrary to previous research, overall social consensus was not an important factor. However, consumers exhibit distinctly different patterns in ethical evaluation, and for approximately 15% of respondents social consensus was the most important dimension.
This study investigates the differences in he way bribery and extortion is perceived by two different cultures — American and Greek. Two hundred and forty American business students and two hundred and four Greek business students were presented with three scenarios describing a businessman offering a bribe to a government official and three scenarios describing a businessman being forced to pay a bribe to an official in order to do business. The Reidenbach-Robin instrument was used to measure the ethical reactions (...) of the two samples to these scenarios. Results indicate that ethical reactions to bribery and extortion vary by (a) the nationality of the person offering the bribe, and (b) the country where the bribe is offered. In addition, Greeks perceived some of the scenarios as being less unethical than did Americans. (shrink)
The present study expands the systematic measurement of consumers’ sentiments towards business ethical practices to the international arena. Data for the Business Ethics Index (BEI) were gathered in three countries of the European Union (UK, Germany, Spain). The Germans were the most pessimistic while the British were the most optimistic about the future ethical behaviour of businesses.
The present study describes the development of an ongoing and systematic index to measure consumers’ sentiments towards business ethical practices. The Business Ethics Index (BEI) is based on the well established measurements of consumer sentiments, namely the ICS (Index of Consumer Sentiment) and CBCCI (Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index). The BEI is comprised of 4 measurements representing the dimensions of “personal-vicarious” and “past-future.” Data from 503 telephone interviews were used to calculate a BEI of 107. This indicates an overall positive (...) consumer sentiment towards the ethical behavior of business. Future calculations of the BEI are planned which will allow for the estimation of the latent dynamics of trends in consumer sentiments toward American business ethics. (shrink)
While some of the great thinkers (Socrates, Kant) have argued for an absolutist view of ethical behavior, over the past 250 years the relativist view has become ascendant. Following the contingency framework of Ferrell and Gresham (1985) and the issue contingent model of Jones (1991), a model for ethical research is proposed. The key components include the moral agent/transgressor, the issue type and its intensity, and the nature of the victim. In addition, a statistical methodology, namely conjoint analysis, is introduced (...) to investigate the trade-offs inherent in relativistic inquiry. In two ethical scenarios, in each of which three factors were varied, conjoint analysis provided important insight. The individual transgressor factor of gender had minimal impact on observer responses to two scenarios of questionable ethicality. In contrast, both the dollar magnitude of the transgression and the organizational status of the transgressor (salesperson/manager/owner) did affect observer responses. (shrink)
The Business Ethics Index (BEI), measuring consumer perceptions of ethical business behavior, was extended to four ex-communist countries (Russia, Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria). For Bulgaria, the two past dimensions are on the negative side of the scale. However, Bulgarians seem to be optimistic for the future ethical behavior of businesses. The same optimism about the future is observed for all four countries with Romania having the highest scores. Three hypotheses are proposed for the unusually high scores of the past ethical (...) perceptions expressed by Russians. (shrink)
The Business Ethics Index (BEI) was expanded in Japan. The overall BEI for Japan stands at 99.1 – slightly on the negative side. The component BEI patterns were similar to those in the U.S. In an open-ended question about their ethical experiences as consumers, the Japanese were concerned about customer service and good management practices.
This study continues the systematic measurement of consumers’ sentiments toward business ethical practices first measured in 2004. The Business Ethics Index (BEI) comprises the four measurements representing the dimensions of “personal–vicarious” and “past–future”. A professional telephone interviewing company was hired to collect five consecutive waves of 1045 telephone interviews in an omnibus procedure. The collection of the five waves represented a sampling process which enables the creation of confidence intervals for this, and subsequent, measurements of the BEI. The overall BEI (...) fell to 102.6 (from a revized 108.7 in 2004). The drop was attributed to a fall in consumer expectations of the future ethical behavior of business. (shrink)
The present paper compares the ethical perceptions of Americans and Greeks using conjoint analysis. The two samples were presented with 2 scenarios manipulating three factors: gender of the transgressor, organizational status of the transgressor, and the magnitude of the transgression. For each scenario, conventional mean comparisons and conjoint analyses were performed on five ethical measurements. The matrix of means and the relative importances of the American sample were compared with that of the Greek sample. The results showed that Greeks paid (...) more attention to the dollar amount involved and less attention on the organizational status of the transgressor than Americans did. The gender of the transgressor was the least important factor for both samples. The use of relative importance measures derived from conjoint analysis is shown to provide a new dimension in cross-cultural comparisons. (shrink)
The systematic measurement of consumers’ sentiments toward business ethical practices is expanded to two emerging economies in Asia (China and India). The Chinese were very optimistic about the future ethical behavior of businesses, while the Indians recorded the lowest BEI scores yet. Chinese consumers were very concerned with product issues, while Indians were concerned equally about low quality products and excessive prices.
The present study examines the effect of priming on business ethical decision making. Priming is based on the idea that our perceptions, actions, and emotions are distorted by unconscious cues from our environment. Subjects were primed for either “politeness” or “rudeness” using a sentence completion task. Following the priming, the subjects were asked to react to a series of ethical scenarios. The results showed that subjects primed for “rudeness” perceived the scenarios as less unethical than subjects primed for “politeness”. Similar (...) results were observed in both the American and the Dominican samples. The results indicate that business ethical decision making is influenced by environmental factors we are unaware off. (shrink)
Theoretical justification for the Business Ethics Index (BEI) from the emerging economics of trust literature is discussed. The BEI results for 2007, 2008, and 2009 are presented. While the Personal/Past BEI component shows no significant difference from the previous years, the Vicarious/Past component shows a dramatic drop to levels previously never recorded.However, when it came to the perception of the future business ethical behavior, respondents were significantly more optimistic than in previous measurements.This finding was more than a little surprising given (...) the depth of the economic crisis. A possible explanation is that consumers hopefully perceived the economic crisis as already abating and/or that at least the worst was over. (shrink)
For almost 10 years, the Business Ethics Index (BEI) has measured consumers’ perceptions of business ethical behavior in the USA and numerous other countries. This article expands the BEI to five Latin American countries (Brazil, Bolivia, Mexico, Argentina, and Colombia). The BEI of Argentina and Bolivia were similar in magnitude to the USA, whereas those for Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico were distinctly higher. The component sub-indices showed divergent patterns. The major ethical concerns for Brazil and Bolivia concerned service, whereas Mexico (...) and Argentina complained about overpricing. (shrink)