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 10: The ethical imperative of constructive engagement in a world confounded by the commons dilemma, social traps and geopolitical conflicts

Clifford J. Shultz


It is the business of the benevolent [marketer] to seek to promote what is benevolent to the world, to eliminate what is harmful and to provide a model for the world. (Mo Tzu, 5th century BC). Much of the world in which marketers make ethical decisions is complex, often poorly understood and frequently conflicted. Further, our world is replete with dilemmas that require systemic understanding, cooperation among participants (marketers, policy makers and consumers) and systemic solutions to ensure the most just and ethical outcomes over time. This chapter will therefore explore marketing ethics beyond static dyadic exchanges to include the more dynamic aspects of social traps, to emphasize the importance of systemic analyses and to insist on the imperative of constructive engagement in a conflicted geopolitical marketscape. These broader macromarketing considerations are vital if we hope to have the most positive impact on the largest number of people and thereby to engage in the most sustainable ethical behavior. This chapter does not attempt a thorough review of the voluminous literature on marketing ethics of the type admirably provided by such authors as Hunt and Vitell (1986, 2006), Ferrell (2007), Laczniak and Murphy (1993, 2006), Nill and Schibrowsky (2007), Singhapakdi and Vitell (1990) and Smith and Quelch (1993).

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