How Educators Should Respond to Culture, Gender, and Moral Ideology on Sales Ethics Evaluations

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Youngsu Lee of California State University, Chico, Timothy Heinze of California State University, Chico, Casey Donoho of California State University, Chico, Christophe Fournier of the University of Montpellier, Ahamed A. F. M. Jalal of Binus University International, David Cohen of Lincoln University, and Eike Hennebichler of the University of Montpellier. They recently published an article in the Journal of Marketing Education entitled “An International Study of Culture, Gender, and Moral Ideology on Sales Ethics Evaluations: How Should Educators Respond?” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Heinze reflects on the motivations for conducting this research:]

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My motivation for working on “An International Study of Culture, Gender, and Moral Ideology on Sales Ethics Evaluations: How Should Educators Respond?” fundamentally centered on the need to facilitate ethical orientations and practices in sales. Globally, sales is one of the most difficult positions for hiring managers to fill. However, though professional sales positions are readily available and offer lucrative financial and lifestyle benefits, many college students do not desire sales careers. This fact is of particular concern in marketing where the majority of students must begin their professional careers in sales. Therefore, the paper is an attempt to better understand the global nature of sales ethics. If we can understand the drivers behind ethical sensitivity and decision making in sales, we can better develop pedagogical tools to effectively teach sales ethics.

The most challenging aspect of the research involved coordinating data collection across five countries. However, the international nature of the study also provided several interesting and unexpected findings. For example, we found that cultural traditionalism doesn’t necessarily yield increased ethical sensitivity. Indonesia is technically more traditional than the U.S., but Indonesian respondents were not as ethically sensitive to sales improprieties. This finding aligned with prior research which uncovered that collectivistic societies such as Indonesia tend to have lower levels of ethical sensitivity.

Another interesting finding dealt with gender and ethical sensitivity. Females were more ethically sensitive in all countries, save Germany (where females and males shared similar sensitivity levels). Germany was the most secular country studied, and the disappearance of traditional gender roles in secular societies might influence sensitivity levels.

Finally, the research confirmed that moral ideologies impact ethical sensitivity. Individuals who subscribe to absolutist ideologies (high idealism/low relativism) are the most sensitive to ethical misconduct in sales situations.


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