Deception and defection from ethical norms in market relationships: a general analytic framework

William W. Keep, Gary P. Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Market relationships built on trust and governed by commonly accepted ethical norms are generally viewed as economically positive and beneficial to both parties; however, such relationships are occasionally the situs of a variety of unexpected and ethically questionable behaviours. This study examines the narratives provided by participants who share their experience as an exchange partner in a market relationship or as a close observer of an exchange partner in a market relationship to identify the use of short-term deceptions and ethics defections in managing these relationships. The data demonstrate a number of instances in which one exchange partner is willing to deceive another. Situations identified include deceiving current customers, new customers, current suppliers, governmental bodies, and employees and managers for the purposes of: protecting an existing relationship, pursuing a new relationship, ensuring product or service quality, and exerting control over a relationship. This research develops a general analytic framework for the occurrence of deception and defection from ethical norms in market relationships from elements of the study participants' narrative reports. This framework can be used by future researchers to design studies that examine the specific antecedents of these behaviours.
Original languageAmerican English
JournalBusiness Ethics: A European Review
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics
  • Marketing
  • Public Relations and Advertising
  • Sociology

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