Research Ethics are more than “just common sense”
While there are many who think that market research ethics are simply the case of ‘common sense’, they haven’t though it thoroughly, as per the seminar given by Agnes Nairin of International Business School at Impact 2017.
She addressed the audience and took them through a series of illusorily simple questions of market research ethics.
Answers to these questions, however are anything but simple.
For e.g. Should you provide incentives to the research participants? If yes, then how much? From whom should be take consent in case for children to be taken part in research or should a company’s own staff be allowed to participate in testing new products? Etc.
According to Nairin – the ethics of what you ask and to whom, and whether or how you ask for permission is not absolutely a case of black or white.
Industry codes on market research ethics
Diverse industry codes of practices exist to provide assistance to answer such questions, this includes those published by Esomar, MRS and industry bodies in other countries.
Nevertheless, it is not clear whether they are actually much of assistance.
A market research report from the Auckland University of technology among the researchers in New Zealand concluded that the codes do not have a significant impact on the ethical behavior.
The outlook is divided among academics on whether or not these industry codes really guide the decisions of market researchers.
In many instances, people do not have enough knowledge about their industry codes well enough.
Therefore, the codes are not reinforced by regular training or people simply feel the codes support their current values.
So what can be done to make sure the industry codes are adhered to?
Nairin, again has a solution, to make sure industry codes are being followed sincerely. She gives the following advice –
- Make sure the subject of how you want the people to behave is boiled down into some memorable core principles. Furthermore, these principles must have an unwavering support from the people of top positions from the company.
- It must be so that the learning process is enjoyable for the people and provide them with the freedom to learn from their mistakes instead of feeling like they have been punished.
- Most significantly, make sure that each individual is personally responsible for their ethics in work.
Following Nairin’s training and principles, 96% of the contestants commented that they found the training to be useful as well as 69% of participants challenged the existing practices within the span of one year.