Research Integrity

I came across a research titled “Ethical Problems of Marketing Researchers” published on the Journal of Marketing Research by the American Marketing Association. One of the questions that the researchers posed to 4282 marketing practitioners was “Would you please briefly describe the job situation that poses the most difficult ethical or moral problem for you?” Out of the 1076 usable responses, 33% nominated “Research Integrity”, in other words, one third of the sampled marketing practitioners had difficulty presenting the truth.

What research integrity suggests is that market researchers have the ethical conflict of finding the balance between satisfying what its company wants while fulfilling the responsibilities to a client outside the company. Behaviours often included falsifying figures, altering research results, misusing statistics, and many more.

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When a manager of a firm comes up with a proposal, empirical data and persuading numbers are needed to back it up. It becomes the marketing personnels’ duty to provide those data and numbers. This would be a breeze if market research matched that proposed by the manager (which I believe what a worthy manager would propose), but otherwise, it would be a dilemma storming in. “Should I comply my numbers with the manager or find another job?”

As an example from the research, one respondent reported, “We try to bury the mistake and concentrate on the valid parts of the study in those results.” There is nothing wrong with focusing on the valid parts, but I think burying the mistakes would results in bigger issues in the long run. With all being said, the marketing personnel could provide the data and advice the manager that withheld information could pose problems in the future, or they could report to the top management team and notify them of the setbacks of the proposal. I would prefer the latter, and perhaps the top management team could consider the alternative of hiring an external research company.

The details of this article is very interesting and worth further investigation. The research could be found here.

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