Business Research Ethics
April 21, 2015
Business Research Ethics
In response to the public outcry about McDonald’s food products being a link to childhood obesity, the food chain launched a qualitative research project. This project named the “listening tour” began at the corporate level and is expected to reach the national and local levels once the corporate program is completed. Ashlee Yingling, the manager for the listening tour and McDonald’s US media relations says the program derived from the corporation’s need to expose their leaders to the conversations that were going on about the food chain. The listening tour was also a way to invite the individuals on these blogs and social sites to a unique meeting with the company leaders to express their concerns. The listening tour consisted of several gatherings, in which “specific sustainability topics were addressed, like nutrition and well-being, sustainable supply chain, environmental responsibility, employee experience, and community” (Birkner, Christine, 2014). In order to ensure that the research is conducted in an ethical manner, McDonalds should schedule or conduct meetings with individuals whom have nothing to gain by providing their opinion. McDonald’s should not offer any type of incentive to the prospects. Incentive offering can lead to backlash from the public, especially is the research produces information in the company’s favor. People who are affected by the issues should want their opinion to be heard with or without the offering of an incentive. McDonald’s could set up a social where individuals can voice their opinions publically and the company can select their interview prospects from people who post on the site. The only parties involved in the research that could face injury are the ones that are experiencing the obesity issues that may not be selected to voice their opinion. In any survey all of the victims cannot be heard, and there is always the potential for important issues that need to be addressed being left out. Also if there is unethical practices that are preventing certain issues from being addresses it can not only be detrimental to the consumers of the products but to the company also. If McDonald’s were to be accused of unethical research practices, or hiding essential information it could be detrimental to the company’s success. Consumers, will lose faith in the company and some may start to think, what else are they hiding? What the consumers think can determine a company’s sustainability. If consumers do not see a company as trustworthy are not likely to patronize the business, and without revenue a company cannot remain in business. In the event that unethical behavior is found or suspected, the management team should act swiftly to address and correct the issue. For example if it is found that interview prospects are being paid or offered incentives for favored opinions. In this situation the leaders should remove the person(s) involved it the pay off and have them removed from the project immediately and have the information gained from interviews done by those interviewers removed from the collected research data. Then strict guidelines for interview selection should be put in place to prevent the issue from happening again. That’s why having the social site that will allow interview prospects to reach out to the company to voice their opinion would be a good idea. With the site being a public entity, anything posted can be publically viewed and people who visit the site can see what is going on real time and can post responses. This way everything is out in the open and consumers will not feel as if the company is hiding anything. In McDonald’s 2010 annual report Jim Skinner wrote, “Our actions around the world are guided by our values, one of which is a commitment to continuous improvement. We understand that we can always do better ... and we define “better” not just in terms of “doing...
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