Commentary on an empirical investigation of a general theory of marketing ethics

Shelby Hunt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

95 Scopus citations


The article "An Empirical Investigation of a General Theory of Marketing Ethics" by Mayo and Marks constitutes a major effort at testing the theory of marketing ethics developed by Scott Vitell and me (1986). Mayo and Marks (hereafter, "M&M") deduce several key research hypotheses from the theory, test those hypotheses using a marketing research scenario, and conclude: "The core relationships in Hunt and Vitell's model appear to capture much of the decision-making processes that marketing managers employ in resolving an ethical dilemma." Although no single empirical study ever provides a definitive test of a theory, their encouraging findings will likely prompt further empirical studies. The objective of this commentary is not to criticize the design of M&M's research, for there is no such thing as a perfect research design. All efforts to test empirically a theory will necessarily involve significant amounts of interpretive creativity and there are always trade-offs to be made. Rather, the objective here is to (1) review certain exemplary aspects of the M&M research design, (2) suggest some alternative interpretations and procedures for future researchers in this area to consider, and (3) show how some of the issues in their article relate to more fundamental philosophy of science concerns.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-177
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of the Academy of Marketing Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1990


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