A Comparison of the Ethical Perceptions of Prospective Personal Selling and Advertising Employees


The prevalence of corporate unethical activity has brought ethics education to the forefront. In response, business curricula have been revised to incorporate ethics topics. The business disciplines of personal selling and advertising are often maligned for possessing low ethical standards. Much of the negative image may be attributed to the perception that in the advertising and selling professions ethical behavior is not important. Further, ethical behavior may not be emphasized in the two disciplines because success in advertising and sales may be inversely related to ethical behavior. In this research, the perceived importance of ethics and ethical behavior was measured from both the advertising and the personal selling perspectives. Responses obtained from prospective advertising employees and salespeople were compared to determine the similarities and differences between the two professions. Results of the study indicate that prospective personal salespeople felt that ethical behavior was more important and more heavily emphasized in their discipline than did prospective advertising employees. Additionally, personal selling respondents felt that success in their field depended more heavily on ethical behavior than did those in advertising. While results of the study indicated that both personal selling and advertising prospective employees expect to encounter ethical dilemmas in their professions, respondents in both fields agreed that they would feel comfortable working only in a corporate environment where the corporate ethics match their own personal ethics. Based on the findings, implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.



Document Type


Stable URL


Publication Date


Journal Title

Marketing Management Journal