Moving beyond ethical decision-making: a practice-based view to study unethical sales behavior
Aino Halinen; Irfan Ameer
Changes in the business environment are rapidly transforming sales practice and pressuring the integrity of key actors in sales. Given that unethical sales behavior is a social activity produced and reproduced by various actors in a complex sales task environment, we introduce a novel research perspective to the study of unethical sales behavior, namely a practice-based view. With knowledge from a systematic literature review and a practice-based view from organization research, we suggest that unethical behavior should be studied as a practice formed through socialization and interaction with relevant others. This view provides an important alternative as well as a complementary perspective to the ethical decision-making paradigm that has dominated the field for several decades. The study answers scholars’ recent calls to strengthen the theoretical foundation of sales ethics research and further extend its perspective toward the social context of sales. With a focus on dynamics, social relations, and the enactment of practices, the practice-based view produces new types of knowledge on unethical behavior and potential new means for addressing it. The article makes suggestions for future practice-based research and proposes several theories for use in studying unethical behavior in currently important sales contexts.
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