Handbook on Ethics and Marketing
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Handbook on Ethics and Marketing

Edited by Alexander Nill

Exploring both the theoretical and the applied aspects of the role ethics plays in marketing, this Handbook analyzes key issues in order to advance our understanding and provide an overview of the state of the art in this vital field.
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Chapter 3: A review of ethical decision-making models in marketing

O.C. Ferrell, Linda Ferrell and Jennifer Sawayda


The development and testing of frameworks to understand ethical decision making in marketing has advanced over the last 50 years. It is significant that marketing scholars played a leadership role in developing ethical decision-making models for the entire business discipline (Bartels 1967; Ferrell and Gresham 1985; Hunt and Vitell 1986). Contributions in management were also significant in advancing our understanding (Trevi-o 1986; Jones 1991). In addition the framework and scales developed by psychologists and philosophers were used by both marketing and management scholars to develop and test frameworks (Forsyth 1980; Kohlberg 1981; Rest 1986). These models are critically reviewed and are the foundation of most marketing ethics research. As marketing scholars advance academic knowledge of ethical decision making, organizations, industry groups and governments have been institutionalizing ethics programs to prevent misconduct. While the academic community sees the individual’s moral philosophies as a major focus for research, business practitioners focus on organizational values, legal compliance, codes of conduct, reporting systems and ethics training on key risk areas. Both government legislation (for example, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations) and industry trade groups (for example, the Ethics and Compliance Officers Association) focus on developing an ethical culture that involves the principles, values and policies that influence the conduct of organizational members. Ethical leadership is seen as helping to set the tone through shared values, attitudes and ethical practices. Because of the ethical diversity of individuals, organizations see compliance as a necessary component of ethics programs.

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