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Ethics and services marketing


The area of services marketing is a highly crucial one for potential ethical violations. The services industry, which drives over two-thirds of our national economy, is about to experience severe changes due to increasing competition. The temptation to make ethical compromises will pose a dramatic threat to the business climate.

We review conceptual approaches to the field of marketing ethics and conclude that existing models often lack an important component which affects ethical decision-making. That component includes the interorganizational variables: the primary task environment, including immediate customers and suppliers to the buyer and seller; the secondary task environment, comprised of suppliers and customers to the immediate suppliers and customers, competitors, and regulatory agencies, and the macro-environment, those broader forces which impinge on the activities in the primary and secondary task environments.

We suggest various propositions for circumstances under which unethical behavior is likely to occur within the interorganizational domain. The overarching framework is that of service industries in an increasingly competitive environment.

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Dr. Ellen Kennedy and Dr. Leigh Lawton are associate professors in the Department of Marketing at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. They have published articles in theJournal of Business Ethics andIndustrial Marketing Management on the topics of using fiction to teach business ethics and workforce socialization.

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Kennedy, E.J., Lawton, L. Ethics and services marketing. J Bus Ethics 12, 785–795 (1993).

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  • Economic Growth
  • Marketing
  • Regulatory Agency
  • National Economy
  • Unethical Behavior