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Ethics in Business Research

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1 Ethics in Business Research
Lecture 4 Ethics in Business Research This chapter explains the ethical issues faced by researchers.

2 Ethics Norms or standards of behavior Guide moral choices
Behavior and relationships with others Ethics and legality


4 Types of Ethical Violations
Violating disclosure agreements Misrepresenting results Breaking confidentiality Deceiving participants Ethics are norms or standards of behavior that guide moral choices about our behavior and our relationships with others. The goal of ethics in research is to ensure that no one is harmed or suffers adverse consequences from research activities. Unethical activities are pervasive and include many types of activities. Some of these are listed in the slide. For some researchers, ethical and legal norms are the same. The text authors feel that legal constraints are the minimum standard but not the ideal. Padded invoices Avoiding legal liability

5 Ethical issues at all stages of the research process
Exhibit 5-1 highlights the many ethical issues that arise at all stages of the research process.

6 Ethical Treatment of Participants
Explain study benefits Explain participant rights and protections Research must be designed so that a participant does not suffer physical harm, discomfort, pain, embarrassment, or loss of privacy. This slide lists the three guidelines researchers should follow to protect participants. When discussing benefits, the researcher should be careful not to overstate or understate the benefits. Informed consent means that the participant has given full consent to participation after receiving full disclosure of the procedures of the proposed study. Obtain informed consent

7 Rights and Obligations of the Respondent
The obligation to be truthful Privacy Deception The right to be informed

8 Rights and Obligations of the Researcher
The purpose of research is research Objectivity Misrepresenting research Protect the right to confidentiality of both subjects and clients Dissemination of faulty conclusions Advocacy research

9 Rights and Obligations of the Client
Sponsor (User) Ethics between buyer and seller Open relationship with research suppliers Open relationship with interested parties Privacy Commitment to research Pseudo-pilot studies

10 Components of Informed Consent
Identify researchers Describe survey topic Describe target sample Identify sponsor Describe purpose of research Promise anonymity and confidentiality Give “good-faith” estimate of required time commitment State participation is voluntary State item-non response is acceptable Ask for permission Exhibit 5-2 illustrates the informed consent procedures used by the Indiana Center for Survey Research. The components highlighted in its procedures are listed in the slide.

11 Characteristics of Informed Consent
Competence Elements Knowledge Voluntary Since 1966, all projects with federal funding are required to be reviewed by an Institutional Review Board (IRB). An IRB evaluates the risks and benefits of proposed research. The review requirement may be more relaxed for projects that are unlikely to be risky – such as marketing research projects. Many institutions require that all research – whether funded or unfunded by the federal government – be reviewed by a local IRB. The IRBs concentrate on two areas. First is the guarantee of obtaining complete, informed consent from participants. The second is the risk assessment and benefit analysis review. Complete informed consent has four characteristics and these are named in the slide. The participant must be competent to give consent. Consent must be voluntary, and free from coercion. Participants must be adequately informed to make a decision. Participants should know the possible risks or outcomes associated with the research. Informed

12 Ethical Responsibilities
Special guidelines apply to children! Informed consent means parental approval Special consideration is necessary when researching the behavior and attitudes of children. Besides providing informed consent, parents are often interviewed during the selection process to ensure that the child is mature enough and has the verbal and physical capabilities necessary.

13 Deception Disguising non-research activities Camouflaging
true research objectives Deception occurs when the participants are only told part of the truth or when the truth is fully compromised. Deception can take two forms. One form relates to disguising nonresearch activities as opinion or business research. For instance, research might be used to collect data that are used to sell merchandise. Personal information could be collected for illegal purposes. Sometimes researchers use deception as part of a research design. It involves camouflaging the true research objects or the identity of the sponsor. This form of deception is used to prevent biasing respondents or to protect the confidentiality of a third party. Some researchers believe that deception should never occur. It is generally accepted in the industry that the benefits to be gained by appropriate research design-based deception should be balanced against the risks to the participants.

14 Debriefing Explain any deception Describe purpose Share results
In situations where participants are intentionally or accidentally deceived, they should be debriefed once the research is complete. Debriefing describes the goals of the research, as well as the truth and reasons for any deception. Results are shared after the study is complete. Participants who require any medical or psychological follow-up attention will receive it during the debriefing process. Provide follow-up

15 Participant Confidentiality
Obtain signed nondisclosure Non- disclosure of data subsets Restrict access to ID All individuals have a right to privacy, and researchers must respect that right. Once a guarantee of confidentiality is given, protecting that confidentiality is essential. Researchers protect participant confidentiality in several ways. Obtaining signed nondisclosure documents – only researchers who have signed nondisclosure forms should be allowed access to the data. Restricting access to participant identification. Revealing participant information only with written consent. Restricting access to data instruments where the participant is identified. Nondisclosure of data subsets. Methods 2-5 deal with minimizing the chance for a participant to identified and matched with his or her responses. Links between data and identifying information must be minimized. Interview response sheets should be inaccessible to everyone except the editors and data entry personnel. Data collection instruments may be destroyed once data are in a data file. For very small groups, data should not be made available if it would be easy to pinpoint a person in the group. Minimize instruments requiring ID Reveal only with written consent

16 Prior permission to interview
Right to Privacy Right to refuse Prior permission to interview For researchers to fully address participants’ right to privacy, they must also 1) inform participants of their right to refuse to answer any questions or participate in the study; 2) obtain prior permission to interview or observe participants; and 3) limit the time required for participation to limit the amount of information collected to only that which is deemed critical. Limit time required

17 Confidentiality Sponsor Nondisclosure Purpose Nondisclosure
Some sponsors wish to undertake research without revealing themselves. They have a right to several types of confidentiality. Sponsor nondisclosure is used when the sponsor of the research restricts revealing the sponsorship. In this case, the sponsor may hire an outside firm to complete the research projects. Purpose nondisclosure is used when the sponsor camouflages the true research objective of the study. Findings nondisclosure is used when the sponsor restricts the researcher from discussing the findings of the research project. Findings Nondisclosure

18 What to do if coerced? Educate Explain on problems purpose Emphasize
fact-finding role Terminate relationship Occasionally, researchers may be asked by sponsors to participate in unethical behavior. What can the researcher do to remain ethical? There are four suggestions provided in the slide. The researcher can attempt to 1) educate the sponsor to the purpose of the research, 2) explain the researcher’s role as a fact-finder, 3) explain how distorting the truth or breaking faith will lead to future problems, and 4) if the others fail, terminate the relationship.

19 Effective Codes of Ethics
Enforceable Regulate Protect Many organizations have codes of ethics. A code of ethics is an organization’s codified set of norms or standards of behavior that guide moral choices about research behavior. Effective codes are those that 1) are regulative, 2) protect the public interest and the interests of the profession served by the code, 3) are behavior-specific, and 4) are enforceable. Specify Behavior




23 Continuum of Business Research Sophistication
Intuition-Centered Decision Making Stage of intuitive decision making Stage of sophistication Research-Centered Decision Making Stage of development

24 Managers Researchers 1. Decision oriented 1. Technique oriented 2. Intuitive 2. Analytical 3. Managers like to confirm 3. Researchers like to explore 4. Time orientation toward: a. project immediacy (“I need it now.”) b. results about future behavior (“what will sales be next year?”) 4. Time orientation toward: a. Prolongation of project (“later when we have time for a complete study”) b. results about past behavior (“our trend has been . . .”) 5. Frugal (“keep the cost down”) 5. Not cost conscious (“you get what you pay for”) 6. Results orientation: a. managers do not like surprises--when they are surprised they tend to reject the results b. concern (“aren’t we number one yet?”) c. certainty (“is it or isn’t it?”) 6. Results orientation: a. researchers love surprises b. abstraction (“our exponential gain. . .”) c. probability (“may be”) 7. Reactive 7. Proactive

25 Probable Areas of Top Management-Business Research Conflict
Research responsibility Research personnel Budget Assignments Problem definition Research reporting Use of research


Expertise Urgency of the decision Personnel resources Economic factors Objectivity Confidentiality Quality control

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