I hadn't really thought about that! The organisational impact of research ethics

Agnes Nairn
EM Lyon Business School, France

Marie-Agnes Beetschen
United Kingdom

INTRODUCTION

The ethics of research is coming under increasing scrutiny from European and US governments and consumers are becoming more sensitised to their rights in general and their internet privacy rights in particular. Over the past few months the research profession has witnessed heated exchanges in conference halls around new digital techniques. What should we scrape from websites? If a consumer agrees to sign us up as a friend on Facebook can we use the data her friends share with her? What on earth is personally identifiable information anyway? These debates are (quite rightly) likely to continue for some time to come until we reach an industry consensus on using social media for research purposes.

However, ethics is about more than privacy and encompasses issues perhaps more fundamental to business. The question which this paper addresses is one that has had little attention yet one which may affect many more people in the research industry on both the client and agency side than the Facebook debate. The question is this: how can organisations embed ethics into everyday practices and corporate culture and bring it alive for every employee? And, of most relevance to the theme of this conference, what impact does ethical behaviour have on a company?