Business Research Ethics


Every research is aimed at providing valid and reliable results that can be applied in the real world. However, violation of the basic principles of research ethics very often leads to the fact that the research results are heavily biased and cannot be applicable in the context of a research topic.

 There are many reasons for violating businesses research ethics. In some cases, these reasons are the results of the factors that could not be predicted. However, other cases demonstrate the interest of a researcher in producing results that are biased and do not maintain external and internal validity of the research.

There had been historical cases when research ethics were damaged due to a poor understanding of the procedures regarding sampling process, data collection, and data analysis. Confidentiality issues, which have long been considered unimportant, have influenced a number of research studies and also demonstrated how business research ethics violation could lead to unforeseen results within the process of research.


According to Marsden and Melander (2003), the historical incidents of business research ethics violation include such cases as “the unethical Nazi experiment, the Stanley Milgram's experiment, the Tuskegee Syphilis study, the Willowbrook study, and the Laud Humphrey's "Tearoom Sex" study” (para. 1). However, these studies have been the most prominent examples of how the processes associated with data collection from participants should be organized and how human rights should be preserved in the research process. Finally, as Marsden and Melander (2003) further mention, all these inappropriately conducted research studies formulated a solid evidence for the Belmont Report.

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In the modern world, violation of business research ethics is primarily based on the organizational factors. Therefore, instead of focusing on the research process, the results that are to be produced become the purpose of the study. In some cases, publishers of the research results are also involved (Akaan & Riordan, 1990).

As Akaah and Riordan (1990) mention, unethical research practices can be a result of the organizational policies and the determinants that are set for a researcher. However, in this case, the study that is produced can hardly be called a “research study”. Unethical behavior involved in the research study that was analyzed by the authors is a purposeful violation of the data collection process in order to provide the necessary results of the study. This example is typical for large organizations, willing to reduce sampling frame to only those participants who can guarantee the necessary results.

Such unethical behavior is likely to affect individuals at the organizational level only. Labor regulations and human rights that are violated in this case usually do not have a large impact on the whole society. However, the existence of such organizational behavior strongly affects the organizational image and the whole idea of business research. In such cases, past experience of the principles on obedience shown in Milgram’s experiment and the Nazi experiments with the participants’ conditions only help organizations support their unethical business research behavior.

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In order to avoid these cases, individuals are recommended to control the bias representation in the research. First of all, the target population needs to be controlled. It affects the sampling frame. There should be no case of convenience or purposeful sampling methods for such types of research. Both these sampling methods expand the presence of unethical business research cases.

Finally, confidentiality issues should always be present in the research. It is essential for the business research to preserve human rights and individuality of opinion. This also affects publishers who should keep respondents’ information confidential as well.

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