Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 14, Issue 11, pp 893–907 | Cite as

Retailers' professional and professio-ethical dilemmas: The case of Finnish retailing business

  • Tuomo Takala
  • Outi Uusitalo


The main purpose of this paper is to put forth the concept of ethics, present ethical theories and, finally, consider some business ethics issues in the context of retailing practices. In the first part of this paper we seek to motivate the research task. The importance of conducting ethical analysis is stressed. In the second part of the paper several ethical theories: utilitarianism, deontology and virtue ethics are presented. This part serves as a basis for research interviews, e.g. it is possible to examine retailers' opinions about their professional virtues, and try to position these opinions in relation with utilitarianism and deontology. In the third part the empirical findings about the retailing business ethics are set forth. This part suggests that there prevails among retailers some kind of confusion about what are ethical issues and what is not ethical in their daily professional practices. To avoid this confusion four main principles were put forth by the Finnish retailers. The principles were: 1. Freedom versus rules; 2. Principles versus moralizing; 3. Boundaries versus transition; 4. Economy and moral versus subjective judgment.


Economic Growth Business Ethic Ethic Issue Empirical Finding Professional Practice 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Airaksinen, T.: 1988, ‘What is Professional Ethics’, Unpublished Working Paper, Department of Philosophy, University of Helsinki.Google Scholar
  2. Arnold, D.: 1970, ‘Dimensional Sampling: An Approach for Studying a Small Number of Cases’,American Sociologist 5, 147–150.Google Scholar
  3. Baumhart, R.: 1961, ‘How Ethical are Businessmen?’,Harward Business Review (July–August), 6–19 and 156–176.Google Scholar
  4. Brenner, S. N. and E. A. Molander: 1977, ‘Is the Ethics of Business Changing’,Harward Business Review 55, 57–71.Google Scholar
  5. Callahan, J.: 1988, J. C. Callahan (ed.),Ethical Issues in Professional Life (Oxford University Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  6. Dornoff, D. and C. Tankersley: 1975, ‘Do Retailers Practice Corporate Responsibility?’,Journal of Retailing 51, 33–42.Google Scholar
  7. Dubinsky, A. and M. Levy: 1985, ‘Ethics in Retailing: Perceptions of Retail salespeople’,Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 13, 1–16.Google Scholar
  8. Geertz, C.: 1973,The Interpretation of Cultures (Basic Books, New York).Google Scholar
  9. Glaser B. and A. Strauss: 1967,The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research (Aldine, Chicago).Google Scholar
  10. Goldman, A.: 1980,The Moral Foundations of Professional Ethics (Rowman and Littelfield, New Jersey).Google Scholar
  11. Hunt, S. and S. Vitell: 1986, ‘A General Theory of Marketing Ethics’,Journal of Macromarketing 6, 5–16.Google Scholar
  12. Kant, I.: 1959,Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals (Bobbs-Merrill, New York).Google Scholar
  13. Laczniak, G.: 1983, ‘A Framework for analysing Marketing Ethics’,Journal of Macromarketing 1, 7–18.Google Scholar
  14. Levy, M. and A. Dubinsky: 1983, ‘Identifying and Addressing Retail Salespeople's Ethical Problems: A Method and Application’,Journal of Retailing 59, 46–66.Google Scholar
  15. MacIntyre, A.: 1984,After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory (University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame).Google Scholar
  16. Norris, D. G. and J. B. Gifford: 1988, ‘Retail Store Managers' and Students' Perceptions of Ethical Retail Practices: A Comparative and Longitudinal Analysis (1976–1986)’,Journal of Business Ethics 7, 515–524.Google Scholar
  17. Ross, W.: 1930,The Right and the Good (Clarendon Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  18. Sen, A.: 1991, ‘Rationality, Ethics and Economics’.Finnish Labour Institute for Economic Research, Discussion Papers 104.Google Scholar
  19. Smith, A.: (1776)/1967/,The Wealth of Nations (New York).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tuomo Takala
    • 1
  • Outi Uusitalo
    • 1
  1. 1.University of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland

Personalised recommendations