Skip to main content

The relationship between ethical and customer-oriented service provider behaviors

Abstract

This study examines the relationship between the ethical behavior and customer orientation of insurance sales agents engaged in the selling of complex services, e.g. health, life, auto, and property insurance. The effect of ethical and customer-oriented behavior, measured by the SOCO scale (Saxe and Weitz, 1982), on the annual premiums generated by the agents is also investigated. Customeroriented sales agents are found to engage in less unethical behavior than their sales-oriented counterparts. Further, sales-oriented agents are found to perceive greater levels of unethical behavior among their significant others. Alarmingly, higher levels of sales premiums are found among those agents who engage in unethical behavior.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Armstrong, J. S. and T. Overton: 1977, ‘Estimating Nonresponse Bias in Mail Surveys’,Journal of Marketing Research 14, 396–402.

    Google Scholar 

  • Arndt, S.: 1989, ‘Discussion of Ethics Needed’,National Life & Health-Financial Services, Oct. 23, 3–5.

  • Bellizzi, J. A. and R. E. Hite: 1989, ‘Supervising Unethical Salesforce Behavior’,Journal of Marketing 53, 36–47.

    Google Scholar 

  • Bellizzi, J. A. and D. W. Norvell: 1991, ‘Personal Characteristics and Salesperson's Justifications as Moderators of Supervisory Discipline in Cases Involving Unethical Salesforce Behavior’,Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 19(1), 11–16.

    Google Scholar 

  • Berry, L. L.: 1983, ‘Relationship Marketing’, in L. L. Berry, G. L. Shostack and G. D. Upah (eds.),Emerging Perspectives on Services Marketing (American Marketing Association, Chicago), pp. 25–28.

    Google Scholar 

  • Brown, G.: 1988,An Analysis of the Effects of Customer Orientation the Salesperson/Buyer Relationship, and Salesperson Resources on Salesperson Performance: A Situational Approach, PhD dissertation, University of Alabama.

  • Churchill, Jr., G. A.: 1991,Marketing Research, Fifth Ed. (The Dryden Press, Hinsdale, Il).

    Google Scholar 

  • Crosby, L. A., K. R. Evans and D. Cowles: 1990, ‘Relationship Quality in Services Selling: An Interpersonal Influence Perspective’,Journal of Marketing 54, 68–81.

    Google Scholar 

  • Delberq, A. L., A. H. Van de Ven and D. H. Gustafson: 1975,Group Techniques for Program Planning: A Guide to Nominal Group and Delphi Processes (Scott and Foresman and Co., Glenview, Il.).

    Google Scholar 

  • Dubinsky, A. J. and T. N. Ingram: 1984, ‘Correlates of Salespeople's Ethical Conflict: An Exploratory Investigation’,Journal of Business Ethics 3, 343–353.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dubinsky, A. J., E. N. Berkowitz and W. Rudelilus: 1980, ‘Ethical Problems in Field Sales Personnel’,MSU Business Topics 28, 11–16.

    Google Scholar 

  • Dunlap, B. J., M. J. Dotson and T. M. Chambers: 1988, ‘Perceptions of Real-Estate Brokers and Buyers: A Sales Orientation, Customer-Orientation Approach’,Journal of Business Research 17, 175–187.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ferrell, O. C. and J. Fraedrich: 1991,Business Ethics (Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, Mass.).

    Google Scholar 

  • Ferrell, O. C. and L. G. Gresham: 1985, ‘A Contingency Framework for Understanding Ethical Decision Marking in Marketing’,Journal of Marketing 49, 87–96.

    Google Scholar 

  • Goolsby, J. R. and S. D. Hunt: 1992, ‘Cognitive Moral Development and Marketing’,Journal of Marketing 56, 55–68.

    Google Scholar 

  • Greene, M. and J. Trieschmann: 1988,Risk and Insurance, 7th edition (South Western Publishing, Cincinnati, Ohio).

    Google Scholar 

  • Hammes, C. A., P. R. Kensicki, E. G. Leverett, Jr. and R. T. Anderson: 1986,Agency Operations and Sales Management, Vol. 2, 2nd edition (Insurance Institute of America, Malvern, Pa.).

    Google Scholar 

  • Hoffman, K. D., V. Howe and D. W. Hardigree: 1991, ‘Ethical Dilemmas Faced in the Selling of Complex Services: Significant Others and Competitive Pressures’,Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, Fall, 13–26.

  • Hunt, S. D., L. B. Chonko and J. B. Wilcox: 1984, ‘Ethical Problems of Market Researchers’,Journal of Marketing Research 21, 309–324.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jones, D. C.: 1990, ‘John Webber Leaves Office with Stirring Call to Professionalism’,National Underwriter Life & Health-Financial Services, Oct. 29, 8.

  • Jordon, E. C.: 1985, ‘This We Believe. This We Require. This We Live By’,Journal of the American Society of CLU, Jan., 11.

  • King, C.: 1990, ‘Prof. Challenges Industry to Face Ethical Issues’,National Underwriter Life & Health-Financial Services, Aug. 16, 15–16.

  • Lagace, R. R., R. Dahlstrom and J. B. Gassenheimer: 1991, ‘The Relevance of Ethical Salesperson Behavior on Relationship Quality: The Pharmaceutical Industry’,Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management 11, 39–47.

    Google Scholar 

  • Levy, M. and A. J. Dubinsky: 1983, ‘Identifying and Addressing Retail Salespeople's Ethical Problems: A Method of Application’,Journal of Retailing 39, 46–66.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lynch, M. P. and R. J. MacKay: 1985,Life Insurance Products and Consumer Information, FTC Staff Report (Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.), pp. 280–300.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nederhof, A. J.: 1985, ‘Methods of Coping with Social Desirability Bias: A Review’,European Journal of Social Psychology 15, 263–280.

    Google Scholar 

  • Nunnally, J. C.: 1978,Psychometric Theory, Second Ed. (McGraw Hill, New York).

    Google Scholar 

  • Oakes, G.: 1990, ‘The Sales Process and the Paradoxes of Trust’,Journal of Business Ethics 9, 671–679.

    Google Scholar 

  • Saxe, R.: 1979,The Customer Orientation of Salespeople, PhD dissertation, UCLA Graduate School of Management.

  • Saxe, R. and B. A. Weitz: 1982, ‘The SOCO Scale: A Measure of the Customer Orientation of Salespeople’,Journal of Marketing Research 19, 343–351.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sutherland, E. and D. R. Cressey: 1970,Principles of Criminology, 8th ed. (J. B. Lippincott, Chicago).

    Google Scholar 

  • Vinson, R. W.: 1991, ‘Industry Image Stuck in Downcycle’,National Underwriter Property & Casualty-Risk & Benefits Management, Jan. 7, 25–29.

  • Zeithaml, V. A.: 1981, ‘How Consumer Evaluation Processes Differ Between Goods and Services’, in James H. Donnelly and William R. George (eds.),Marketing of Services (American Marketing Association, Chicago, Il.).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Additional information

Vince Howe is Associate Professor of Marketing and Chairman, Dept. of Management and Marketing, The University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He has published in several journals including:Personnel Psychology, Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, Journal of Risk & Insurance, Industrial Marketing Management andJournal of Direct Marketing. Former Market Management with Ford Motor Co., his major research and consulting interests are in Market Research and Marketing Strategy.

K. Douglas Hoffman is an Associate Professor of Marketing, a Cameron Research Fellow and the 1991–92 Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence recipient at The University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He has published in theJournal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, Journal of Health Care Marketing, Journal of Services Marketing, Journal of Professional Services Marketing, Marketing Education Review, andThe Journal of Marketing Education.

Donald W. Hardigree is the Nevada Insurance Education Foundation Chair of Insurance and the Director of the Institute for Insurance and Risk Management at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He has published in numerous journals includingCPCU Journal, Journal of Risk & Insurance, Journal of Insurance Issues, andJournal of Personal Selling and Sales Management. A former financial analyst for Ford Motor Co., he serves as a consultant for both insurers and corporate risk managers.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Howe, V., Hoffman, K.D. & Hardigree, D.W. The relationship between ethical and customer-oriented service provider behaviors. J Bus Ethics 13, 497–506 (1994). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00881295

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00881295

Keywords

  • Economic Growth
  • Service Provider
  • Great Level
  • Ethical Behavior
  • Unethical Behavior