Marketing research service is a common practice where organizations pay for marketing service to institutions and experts. Firms and experts providing the market research services are entrusted to conduct credible and reliable research upon which the company concerned can make marketing decisions. Therefore, it is imperative for the research firms to ensure that the research process and recommendations are relevant to the clients (De 12). One of the factors that can adversely affect the credibility of marketing research is the falsification of data. The analysis of the XYZ Marketing Research case study enhances the understanding of the ethical issue behind data falsification and a solution to the problem.
Greg works for XYZ Marketing Research as a team member charged with the responsibility to interpret and write a report, which provides recommendations to the clients. After successfully completing 20 reports, it was clear that Greg has acquired skills and experience. However, on one of the cases he had prepared for his immediate senior surprised him after Elizabeth requested him to re-write the entire report. He was required to incorporate the altered numbers from the original data. The changed data implied that the interpretation and recommendation would be different from the actual facts as well as the intended meaning (Sarstedt and Mooi 91). Elizabeth stated that Ms. Jordon, who presents the report to the clients, felt that the clients might not accept the reports in its original form. However, could not have helped because it was better to stick to the actual data, which was factual and would withstand the scrutiny. Two factors drive the motive to have the data altered. First, the seniors, including Elizabeth and Ms. Jordon, want the client to accept the report. The acceptance of the report is significant because it implies that the XYZ Marketing Research will earn the revenue. Secondly, the fact that the clients are only provided with a copy of the summary printout sheets makes it easy to use the falsified data and generates the reports, which would satisfy the clients. In other words, the motive by Ms. Jordon is to have the report accepted by the client and earn the revenue to the research firm.
The falsification of the data, in this case, is morally unacceptable because it is against the code of ethics in research. The integrity of the findings and recommendations of any research depends largely on the credibility and honesty of the data collected. The omission or the altering of research data is an act of dishonesty (De 12). The officials at XYZ Marketing Research are less concerned about the integrity of the report as long as the customer accepts it. In fact, there is a huge concern about the potential risk that the implementation of the false report might have to the client. The customer might invest heavily in implementing the report, but the risk of not realizing the objectives is significantly high.
Apart from putting the client at risk, the parties involved in the falsification are also placing XYZ Marketing Research into potential risks. First, the failure of the client to achieve the intended objectives can lead to the loss of the customer in the future. The client would find the engagement with XYZ Marketing Research not fruitful and resolve to seek the research services elsewhere. Secondly, the act of falsification can be made public if an insider exposes the information or when the clients demand the investigation on the originality of the data. The disclosure can attract penalties, de-licensing of the practice, and loss of some of the prime customers. Thirdly, the collaborators in the scheme including Greg, Ms. Jordon, and Elizabeth can be found legally liable either personally or jointly. The legal liability can adversely affect their career and resources in the payment of the fines and penalties.
The case represents an ethical and moral dilemma to Greg as the individual mandated to prepare the report based on the falsified data. He has to choose between two options. First, he can act as directed by his seniors, to re-rewrite the report. In this option, it implies that he will have the opportunity to please his seniors and enjoy the security of tenure. Secondly, Greg can refuse and defy his seniors to make use of the falsified data. In this aspect, there are consequences involved, including poor working relationship with his seniors or potential loss of the job. Thirdly, Greg can resign and expose the organization to the client and relevant authorities if the falsification cases persist. The action, in this incident, should be made in consideration to the potential effect on the entire organization and the stakeholders. Lastly, Greg can confront the seniors and make it clear that the act in morally and ethically not acceptable. On the same option, Greg can report and discuss the incidence with Mr. Collins and any other senior members of the management to have the scheme suspended. In this case, Greg should convince them that the clients would accept the proper presentation and explanation of the original data.