As the thoughts and actions of marketers focus on the philosophy of relationship marketing (RM), the purpose of this paper is to broaden our understanding of the concept for its effect on ethical behaviour in organisations. Whilst there is evidence of strong ethical inputs in the theory formation of RM, there is also a need to separate rhetoric from reality. In this paper we argue that despite the evidence that RM is inherently a concept with strong ethical roots, there is a gap between the theory of RM and its actual practice. Indeed, major changes in values and ethics may be required if RM is to be truly adopted. Otherwise there is a danger of allowing RM's ethical inputs (commitment, trust, etc.) to become axiomatic without being subjected to sufficient critical scrutiny at the practical level. We believe that the RM philosophy is capable not only of contributing genuinely to the strategic discourse of contemporary organisations, but also of playing the role of the social advocate by fostering mechanisms which will generate ethical introspection and promote ethical decision making.
Management Decision – Emerald Publishing
Published: Sep 1, 1999
Keywords: Marketing ethics; Decision making
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