The Impact of Moral Reasoning on the Performance of Salespeople.

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Title: The Impact of Moral Reasoning on the Performance of Salespeople.
Author: Shank, Mark J.
Advisors: Dr. James Burrow, Committee Co-Chair
Abstract: Cognitive Moral Development theory was first developed by Jean Piaget in order to explain the mental processes that occur when deriving meaning from experience. From this theory, Lawrence Kohlberg developed the hypothesis that the higher the moral reasoning, the higher the ethical decision. Previous studies suggest that the sales representative works in an environment that is prone to unethical behavior. Examples of this unethical behavior include lying to the customer, not keeping promises and selling ineffective solutions. Researchers suggest that this damaging behavior has been largely attributed to the relative isolation and high pressure that the sales representative experiences in the field. As a result, this behavior can lead to a large variety of consequences that can have a marked impact on a company's performance and financial success. The consequences to the company and the sales representative include loss of customer trust, employee turnover, reduction in repeat business, and lawsuits. To avoid these outcomes, sales managers have a fundamental need to identify mechanisms that increase ethical decision-making. A first step is to understand the relationship between sales performance and morality in the decision making process. The objective of this study was to provide a first order assessment of the existence of a relationship between sales performance and moral reasoning. Specifically, the study assessed whether or not a sales representative's performance, measured by the three-year average sales quota achieved, had a positive correlation with cognitive moral development. Demographic variables; income, education, years of sales experience and ethics training were also analyzed to determine if there was any relationship with cognitive moral development. The survey data was gathered from a sample of 63 sales representatives in an international pharmaceutical company. The sales representatives completed two questionnaires. The Defining Issues Test-2 was used to measure an individual's cognitive moral development level and a self-reported demographic questionnaire was created to gather information around income, performance, education and ethics training. Findings indicate that there is no correlation between a sales representative's performance and cognitive moral development. While previous research has indicated that demographic variables such as income, highest educational degree earned and years of experience, have a positive relationship with cognitive moral development, this study was not consistent with these findings. The one variable, participation in formal ethics training did show a significant relationship with cognitive moral development among sales representatives. This suggests that participation in ethics training increases the likelihood of a sales representative having a higher level of moral reasoning.
Date: 2005-05-06
Degree: EdD
Discipline: Adult and Community College Education
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/3884


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