Ethical Issues in Business Research

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“Just as there are ethical aspects to all human interaction, there are some ethical questions about business research.”

What are ETHICS? Such a question is a philosophical question. Philosophers do not generally agree as to the to the question but people’s rights and obligations are usually dictated by the norms of society. Societal norms are codes of behaviour adopted by a group; they suggest what a member of a group ought to do under given circumstances. Ethical problems may arise when there are conflicting perspectives about behavioural expectations. Codes of ethics to be practiced by researchers have been developed by many professional associations. A code of ethics – is a statement of principles and operating procedures for ethical practice.

There are three concerned parties in business research situations: the researcher, the sponsoring client (user) and the respondent (subject). Each party has certain rights and obligations.

Rights and Obligations of the Researcher.
The researcher is expected to adhere to the purpose of the research, maintain objectivity, avoid misrepresentation, research findings, protect subjects’ and clients’ rights to confidentiality and avoid shading research conclusions. In addition the researcher must not disseminate faulty conclusions nor should he/she appropriate ideas from a competing research supplier.

As “the purpose of research is research” research firms should not engage in any practice other than scientific investigation.

Researchers should maintain high standards to ensure that whatever data they collect are accurate. Researchers must not intentionally try to prove a particular point for political purposes. Objectivity must be adhered to.

It is assumed that the researcher has the obligation to both the client and subjects to analyse the data honestly and to report correctly the actual collection methods. Therefore, researchers should not misreperesent the...
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