“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 statistical accuracy of their data, nor overstate the significance of the results by altering the findings. Concealing errors or allowing variations from the proper procedures tends to distort or shade results.
Distortion of data is a breach of the researcher’s responsibilities. The right to confidentiality of subjects and clients must be maintained. The researcher is responsible to ensure that the respondents’ privacy and anonymity are preserved. Clients have the right to expect objective and accurate data from the researcher. Clients should also expect that their instructions relating to confidentiality have been carried out. The dissemination of faulty conclusions is an ethical issue. This action is considered improper.
Often times, after conducting a research project, the researcher or decision maker disseminate conclusions that are inconsistent with or not warranted by the data. In such a situation, shading of results falls short of the obligation to report accurate findings. There are instances when a research supplier who wins a bid is asked by the client to appropriate ideas from a proposal of a competing research supplier and include them in the research study to be done. This is seen as unethical. Rights and Obligations of the Sponsoring Client (User). . Ethics must be practiced between buyer and seller. The general business ethics expected between a purchasing agent and a sales representative should apply in the business research situation. 2. The client has the obligation to encourage the research supplier to seek out truth objectively. Efforts to reduce bias should be encouraged. A full and open statement of the problem, explanation of time and money constraints and any other input to help the supplier anticipate costs and problems must be provided.
The research sponsor should listen to the voice of the public. 3. Subjects have the right to privacy; this therefore creates a privacy obligation on the part of the client. 4. An open relationship with interested parties 5. Commitment to research – it is widely believed that the client should be serious about considering a project before soliciting proposals. 6. Advocacy research is one of objectivity. The ethical question stems from a conflict between legal ethics and research ethics.