Moral Intensity, Issue Characteristics, and Ethical Issue Recognition in Sales Situations

  • Evelyne Rousselet
  • Bérangère Brial
  • Romain Cadario
  • Amina Béji-Bécheur
Original Paper


Researchers have considered individual and organizational factors of ethical decision making. However, they have little interest in situational factors (McClaren, Journal of Business Ethics 112(1):101–125, 2013) which is surprising given the many situations sales persons face. We address this issue using two pilot qualitative studies successively and a 2 by 2 within-subject experiment with sales scenarios. Qualitative and quantitative data are obtained from front-line employees of the main French retail banks that serve low-income customers. We show that the recognition of an ethical issue differs depending on the role behavior salespersons are engaged in and the nature of the conflict of interest they face. Moreover, the combined effect of these two situational characteristics is mediated by moral intensity. This study not only adds evidence on situational factors affecting ethical decision but also extends empirical research on sales ethics by revealing sales situations that are not considered in the empirical literature. The research implications of the findings are discussed along with the study’s limitations and suggestions for future research.


Ethical issue recognition Moral intensity Salesperson Conflict of interest Role behavior 


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Evelyne Rousselet
    • 1
  • Bérangère Brial
    • 1
  • Romain Cadario
    • 2
  • Amina Béji-Bécheur
    • 1
  1. 1.University Paris Est, IRG, Institut de Recherche en GestionMarne-la-Vallée cedex 2France
  2. 2.IÉSEG School of Management (LEM-CNRS UMR 9221)Paris La DéfenseFrance

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