Ethical Dilemmas Faced in the Selling of Complex Services: Significant Others and Competitive Pressures

Hoffman, K. Douglas; Howe, Vince; Hardigree, Donald W.
September 1991
Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management;Fall91, Vol. 11 Issue 4, p13
Academic Journal
The purpose of this research is to examine the ethical beliefs and practices of salespersons of complex services. A Nominal Group Technique was utilized to identify 9 major ethical issues confronting insurance agents. Agents who have received ethics education perceived more unethical activities among others; however, ethics training had no impact on individual ethical behavior. Support was found for the theory of differential association as individual ethical misconduct was found positively related to perceptions of co-workers, successful agents, and other industry agents ethical misconduct. In addition, partial support was found for the increased incidence of unethical activity in competitive environments� perception of unethical behavior among co-workers was found positively related to the size of the firm, negatively related to the age of the agent, unrelated to job tenure, and more prevalent in exclusive as compared to independent agencies. Sales agent age was also found negatively related to perceptions of successful agent and other industry agents ethical misconduct. Managerial implications and future research suggestions are discussed.


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