Discussion: Ethical Considerations of Health Care Marketing Research

Discussion: Ethical Considerations of Health Care Marketing Research ORDER NOW FOR CUSTOMIZED AND ORIGINAL ESSAY PAPERS ON Discussion: Ethical Considerations of Health Care Marketing Research When conducting market research, health care organizations use a variety of methods to collect and report data. From how this data is collected to who collects it, when they collect it, and how they report it, it is essential for organizations to establish ethical standards for the research process. For this Discussion, you examine ethics in market research and recommend strategies to address unethical behaviors. Discussion: Ethical Considerations of Health Care Marketing Research To prepare: Select a data collection or reporting method used in health care marketing research and reflect on related ethical considerations. Post a cohesive response to the following: Analyze ethical considerations for the data collection or reporting method you selected. Then, recommend strategies to address unethical behaviors that may occur when using this method in health care marketing research. Defend or argue your recommendations. Support your response by identifying and explaining key points and/or examples presented in the Learning Resources. managerial_and_public_attitudes_toward_ethics_in_marketing_research..pdf curricular_priorities_for_business_ethics_in_medical.pdf the_marketing_ethics_course._current.pdf ethical_attitudes_toward_marke.pdf marketing_health_services_book.pdf J Bus Ethics (2012) 109:463–481 DOI 10.1007/s10551-011-1140-2 Managerial and Public Attitudes Toward Ethics in Marketing Research Praveen Aggarwal • Rajiv Vaidyanathan Stephen Castleberry • Received: 21 April 2011 / Accepted: 4 December 2011 / Published online: 15 December 2011 Ó Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011 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. P. Aggarwal Labovitz School of Business and Economics, University of Minnesota Duluth, 385A LSBE, 1318 Kirby Drive, Duluth, MN 55812-3002, USA e-mail: [email protected] R. Vaidyanathan (&) Labovitz School of Business and Economics, University of Minnesota Duluth, 385B LSBE, 1318 Kirby Drive, Duluth, MN 55812-3002, USA e-mail: [email protected] S. Castleberry Labovitz School of Business and Economics, University of Minnesota Duluth, 385L LSBE, 1318 Kirby Drive, Duluth, MN 55812-3002, USA e-mail: [email protected] 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. Keywords Marketing research Ethics Managers Researchers Professionals Misconduct Ethical judgments By its very nature, the practice of marketing often presents ethical dilemmas. In addition, marketing professionals are often near the bottom in terms of ethical conduct and honesty ratings (Nussbaum 2002). Within the broader discipline of marketing, marketing research has been cited as one of the most troubling in this regard (Lund 2001). Discussions about the ethicality of various marketing research tactics and the misuse of research data are often in the news (Phillips 2010). A seminal study examining attitudes toward marketing research practices was published over 40 years ago (Crawford 1970). Twenty years later, Akaah and Riordan (1989) conducted a follow-up study to track changes in attitudes towards marketing research practices. They emphasized the need to replicate results of previous studies to not only uncover any shifts in the ethical judgments of decisionmakers over time, but also to capture changes in people’s sensitivity to ethical conduct over time. It is interesting that Crawford (1970, p. 46) stated in his paper that ‘‘American society today is in a period of deep soul searching, with activity on many fronts designed to spotlight unethical or dishonest practices.’’ With the numerous widely publicized scandals of the twenty-first century, we have returned to a period of soul searching regarding ethics in marketing (McKinney et al. 2010). The time has come to revisit the issue of ethical perceptions in marketing research, and to 123 464 update and extend the findings of Crawford (1970) and Akaah and Riordan (1989), hereafter referred to as A&R. Since the publication of A&R’s re-examination of marketing research ethics, there have been changes in the attitude of both marketing professionals and the broader public towards ethical standards and the social responsibility of managers (Ibrahim et al. 2009). The marketing research process has also been dramatically affected by changes in the technology used by marketing researchers for data collection. Discussion: Ethical Considerations of Health Care Marketing Research Our broad goal is to update the findings of the A&R study on judgments pertaining to the unethical conduct of marketing research. Additionally, we intend to assess and compare reactions to unethical practices in both online and offline contexts. Prior research has failed to systematically consider how the general public views ethical lapses by marketing researchers and professionals (Vitell 2003). Therefore, we extend the research domain by evaluating the perceptions of the public at large towards unethical marketing research practices. Theoretical Background Researchers in marketing have been ahead of several other disciplines in focusing on ethics research (Bernardi et al. 2008). Marketing academics have investigated marketing research ethics issues in a number of ways (Hunt and Vitell 1986) including developing models of marketing research ethics to help understand various decision-making approaches used by professionals (cf. Murphy and Laczniak 1992), and creating empirically and conceptually derived lists of ethical issues (cf. Hair and Clark 2007; Malhotra and Miller 1998; Skinner et al. 1988; Tybout and Zaltman 1974). Crawford (1970) surveyed a national sample of two groups (marketing research directors and marketing managers) to assess the extent to which they approved of various actions taken by marketing researchers in fourteen separate scenarios. Comparing the two groups, he found a number of differences in terms of whether the actions were deemed acceptable or not. For example, marketing researchers were more accepting of the use of hidden tape recorders to collect sensitive data and the misuse of marketing research information in advertising. On the other hand, compared to researchers, marketing managers were more accepting of practices such as the use of ultraviolet ink to pre-code surveys and the exchange of price data with competitors at trade association meetings. In their replication and extension of the Crawford (1970) study, hereafter referred to as the Crawford study, A&R (1989) found that in the 20 years since the Crawford study, disapproval of actions such as the use of ultraviolet ink to pre-code surveys had gone down. However, they also found that disapproval of actions such as the use of hidden 123 P. Aggarwal et al. tape recorders to record sensitive information, or the use of one-way mirrors to record how women put on their brassieres, had gone up. Akaah (1990) also administered the same survey in Australia, Canada, and Great Britain, and found no substantive differences across countries. Research Objectives The first objective of the current study is to examine whether researchers’ and managers’ opinions regarding the ethicality of certain marketing research actions have changed over the last 20 years, and if so, in what ways. We intend to provide a third snapshot in the longitudinal assessment of ethical judgments (the first two being Crawford and A&R). Our second objective is to evaluate managers’ and researchers’ evaluations of previously unexplored ethical issues. To address issues which have recently emerged in marketing research, we first reviewed the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC 2007) guidelines regarding the collection and use of personal information. We then developed scenarios that related to the violation of three of the core ‘‘fair information practice’’ principles most directly linked to ethical situations in the conduct of marketing research. Second, we developed scenarios pertaining to respondent misconduct in research contexts. Respondents are as capable of engaging in research misconduct as research professionals, yet there has been no research on unethical behavior on the part of respondents. Examples of respondent misconduct could include behaviors such as providing false information or responding rudely to researchers.Discussion: Ethical Considerations of Health Care Marketing Research Vitell (2003) identified the lack of studies on ethics in consumer situations as a major weakness in the literature. The present study fills this gap by examining the ethicality of respondent misconduct in marketing research contexts. Both the Crawford and A&R studies measured disapproval of unethical conduct. The third objective of this study is to extend our understanding of unethical research conduct by adding two additional dimensions of managerial response to ethical issues: the perceived importance of a given issue, and the perceived frequency of occurrence of the behavior. It is possible that a person may disapprove of an action but may think that the issue itself is not important or salient. Similarly, an action may be considered highly objectionable, but people may feel that such behaviors do not occur frequently in real life. The addition of these two new dependent variables gives us a more comprehensive picture of the ethicality of the marketing research enterprise. The fourth objective of our study is to assess ethical judgments in the emerging area of online marketing research. Online marketing research was practically nonexistent at the time of the Crawford or A&R studies. However, in the last 20 years, the Internet has emerged as a major platform for conducting marketing research. We compare Attitudes Toward Marketing Research Ethics respondents’ view of certain actions in both the traditional offline environment and the new online environment. Our fifth objective is to examine the impact of a written code of ethics on the ethical judgments of marketing professionals. Codes of ethics are a primary instrument for managing unethical behavior in work environments (Kaptein and Schwartz 2008). Recent research has suggested that the mere existence of a written code can make managers less accepting of certain ethical lapses (McKinney et al. 2010). Other research, however, has shown that managers may not believe that a code of ethics has significant impact on behavior, although there might be some gender-based differences in perceptions (Ibrahim et al. 2009). In addition to specifically assessing the impact of a code of ethics, we also examine the broader role of gender on ethical judgments. Finally, we intend to expand our understanding of judgments on the ethicality of research practices by examining how the public at large reacts to specific unethical research practices. Ethics researchers accept the importance of taking a stakeholder view of organizational practices (Agle et al. 2008), and for marketing research, the public at large is a primary stakeholder. If there is a disconnect between marketing professionals and the general public, it may suggest the need for a reappraisal of the acceptability of certain practices or a campaign to alter misperceptions. Members of the broader public serve as the subjects of marketing research, and it is surprising that few studies have examined public perceptions of marketing practices, despite repeated calls for including the consumer perspective in research on ethics (cf., Vitell 2003). We used two studies to achieve these six objectives. In Study 1, we replicated and extended A&R’s work on the perceptions of marketing managers and researchers toward several scenarios involving unethical conduct (a selection of scenarios used by A&R as well as new scenarios relating to online/offline research, FTC fair information practice principles, and respondent misbehavior). Discussion: Ethical Considerations of Health Care Marketing Research In Study 2, we administered the survey to a representative sample of the ‘‘public,’’ where the respondents were neither marketing managers nor researchers. We compare the perceptions of the public for these scenarios with those of the marketing managers and researchers from Study 1. Study 1: Managers’ and Researchers’ Judgments of Ethical Scenarios Method 465 of the 11 scenarios used in the A&R study, excluding only those scenarios that were no longer relevant or current. Two A&R scenarios were excluded because the issues presented therein related to currently illegal practices of price fixing and insider trading. Also, three scenarios regarding social issues were excluded, given the focus of this study on marketing research practices. The six original scenarios that were retained in this study were: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. To examine new and emerging issues that were not directly addressed in the original studies, we followed the Fair Information Principles guidelines issued by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding collection and use of personal information. These guidelines have been developed by government agencies, not only in the United States but also in Canada and Europe. We developed specific scenarios addressing three of the principles most directly related to ethical situations in the conduct of marketing research: 1. 2. 3. Notice/Awareness: Researcher tracks shopping behavior without explicitly informing the subjects that their behavior is being tracked. Choice/Consent: The information collected for research purposes is used to send promotional offers without notifying respondents about the secondary use of information. Integrity/Security: Research firm promises data security but turns over the data to the client without making sure sensitive information will remain secure. While most studies on marketing research ethics have examined practitioner conduct, it is very possible for respondents to engage in conduct that raises ethical concerns. We developed two scenarios specifically pertaining to respondent misconduct: 1. Development of Scenarios 2. Because one of the objectives of our study was to replicate and extend the Crawford and A&R studies, we adapted six Use of ultraviolet ink to pre-code questionnaires while promising confidentiality. Use of a hidden tape recorder to record interviews. Use of one-way mirrors to collect sensitive data. Use of a fictitious marketing research company name as the sponsor of a study. Distortions of research findings by marketing vice president being ignored by the marketing research director. Findings regarding product misuse being ignored by the marketing research director. False Information: Instead of just refusing to participate in a survey, the respondent decides to give false information to the researcher. Rude Behavior: Respondent not only declines to participate in a survey, but rudely admonishes the researcher for making the contact. 123 466 Finally, as previously mentioned, a major change that has taken place in the last 20 years (since the A&R study) is that the Internet has come to play a major role in the conduct of marketing research. Research has shown that people’s expectations and behaviors are different in the online environment (cf. Shankar et al. 2003). It is possible that people may use different yardsticks when it comes to measuring the ethicality of actions in the online environment versus the offline environment. In order to test for this, we developed two versions (offline and online) of each of the five new scenarios noted above. In summary, our study included sixteen distinct scenarios. Six of these scenarios were from the A&R study and were included for replication purposes. Another six scenarios (three for offline and three for online) were created to study the three Fair Information Principles of notice/awareness, choice/consent, and integrity/security.Discussion: Ethical Considerations of Health Care Marketing Research The remaining four scenarios (two for offline and two for online) were designed to study two aspects of respondent misconduct: providing false information and rude behavior. The full scenarios are presented in the Appendix. P. Aggarwal et al. role in company, job title, gender, age, education level, and household income. The household income categories were adjusted upwards to reflect the general increase in incomes since 1989. Respondents were also asked if the organization they worked for had a written code of ethics. Finally, screening questions were asked to exclude respondents who were either full-time students or worked in a full-time academic (university) job. Pretests We conducted two pretests to refine the survey. In phase I, we made changes to the structure, flow, wording, and readability of the survey based on comments from a group of 15 individuals who reviewed the survey. In phase II, the changed survey was posted online and presented to another group of 15 individuals, consisting of both marketing managers and marketing researchers. After taking the survey, pretest participants were asked to indicate problems they encountered or suggestions they had for making changes to the survey. Based on their feedback, additional minor changes were made. Survey Versions Sample Selection Because of the large number of scenarios, we split the survey into two versions, so that each respondent had to respond to only eight scenarios. The two versions were created in such a way that each had three of the six A&R scenarios. The ten online/offline scenarios were also split between the two versions. We ensured that no respondent saw both the online and offline versions of the same scenario. Measures Consistent with the Crawford and A&R approach, respondents were asked to indicate their approval/disapproval of the key players’ conduct in each scenario on a 7-point scale (with 1 = Strongly Disapprove and 7 = Strongly Approve). Respondents were also given an opportunity to indicate the reason behind their approval or disapproval in an open-ended question—‘‘why do you approve or disapprove of [the conduct]?’’ Two additional questions captured the perceived importance of the issue and the frequency of occurrence of the conduct in each of the scenarios, using a 7-point scale. These questions were ‘‘From an ethical standpoint, how important or unimportant is the issue highlighted by this scenario to you’’ (1 = Not at all important; 7 = Extremely important), and ‘‘How frequently do you think marketing firms engage in behavior like the one described in this scenario’’ (1 = Never; 7 = Very often). Demographic information was collected using the scales provided by A&R: industry category, size of organization, 123 The sample for Study 1 included two distinct populations. The first population consisted of individuals who work in some capacity in marketing research in the United States (‘‘researchers’’). These individuals could work for marketing research firms or in a full-time marketing research job for any other firm. The second population consisted of individuals who were full-time marketing executives in the United States (‘‘managers’’). Full-time academics and fulltime college students were excluded from our sampling frame. Following the procedure used by A&R, we used the AMA’s most recent M Guide (2007), and followed a systematic random selection process. For every individual selected, we examined the title and company, excluding anyone who was an educator (those indicated by a university address) and anyone not located in the U.S. We used the two-letter abbreviations found in the M Guide (like BM, BR, CM, CRM, etc.) next to names and job titles to indicate whether participants were marketing researchers or marketing managers. We verified actual job title by asking for a participant’s job description in the survey itself. A total of 759 individuals were contacted by phone and asked if they would be willing to participate in an academic survey. If they agreed to participate, they were asked if they wanted to respond to the online version of the survey or if they preferred to receive a hard copy of the survey. Respondents were randomly assigned to one of two Attitudes Toward Marketing Research Ethics 467 Results and Discussion Table 1 Sample characteristics: organizational Organizational characteristic Percentage Trends in Ethical Judgments Industry cate … Get a 10 % discount on an order above $ 100 Use the following coupon code : NURSING10

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