Conductingsurveys have become exceedingly essential to businesses emanatingfrom the benefits that they offer to businesses for instance,because of surveys, businesses are capable of obtaining the necessaryfeedback from customers concerning its future strategies in servicesand products that businesses offer. This implies that surveys can aidbusinesses in planning their future. Despite their importance tobusinesses, surveys usually have ethical issues. There are someissues that attract concern emanating from surveys that businessesusually conduct. At times, these issues may attract legalramifications in case they are not well guarded. In this assignment,ethical issues surrounding surveys that business conduct will bediscussed together with the legal ramifications associated with theissues. Besides, there will be a discussion regarding the way forwardof taking care of these ethical issues.
Oneof the ethical issues in conducting surveys entails confidentiality.When conducting surveys, respondents usually give out informationvoluntarily. The information that is given out should be confidential(Kimmel,2007). The only individuals that should have access to the responsesis the management however, in surveys, the respondent is notguaranteed confidentiality because there are many individuals thatmay have access to the responses given out by the respondents. Everyindividual that has access to a single survey account will haveaccess to the entire data from all surveys (Groveset al, 2009). It is not feasible to protect given surveys, when thereis a shared account with a single password. This implies that it isexceedingly difficult to keep information collected from respondentsconfidential given that there are shared accounts. Therefore, theconfidentiality of the respondent can be abused in these surveys.
Attimes, lack of confidentiality in the surveys may lead to legalconsequence. For instance, an employee of a company carrying out asurvey may be engaged in a survey without knowing whether his or herinformation will be kept confidential. When analyzing the informationgiven in a survey, the employer may come across the responses givenby the employee and think of sacking the employee due to providing anegative feedback about the company. In such a scenario, the employeemay seek legal assistance due to breach of confidentiality. In thiscase, the employer may face charges due to lack of showingconfidentiality and showing partiality in the usage of information.Besides, when a respondent gives out information and laterunderstands that his or her information was not kept confidential, heor she may seek a legal intervention that may lead to charging of thecompany collecting data. Therefore, a company conducting surveys mustkeep the responses confidential in order to prevent legalconsequences that may emerge as a result of breaching theconfidentiality of the respondents.
Inorder to address the issue of confidentiality, a business conductinga survey should ensure that it limits the number of individuals thatwill have access to the information collected through surveys. Forinstance, a company can decide that only two individuals will haveaccess to the information collected. This will have an impact ofincreasing confidentiality of the information provided in a survey.Besides, when conducting survey, a business should inform therespondents how confidentiality of the information given would beensured. On the other hand, a business conducting survey should havea form that is fully signed indicating its responsibility formaintaining confidentiality of the information provided (Zikmund& Babin, 2007).
Anotherethical issue surrounding survey research entails providing aninformed consent. When a business conducts a survey using a surveymonkey, it is not feasible to offer an oral explanation concerningthe study or take an oral consent. Any survey that is conductedshould be capable of, first of all informing the respondent oncertain issues such as why the study is being conducted and how theinformation will be used. Failure of notifying the respondent on howthe data will be used may lead to respondent not giving outinformation as required. In some cases, surveys may not seek theconsent of the respondent, which implies that the company conductingsurvey assumes that the respondents would provide informationwillingly without questioning. After collecting such information, abusiness may use the information in a wrong way. This implies thatthe company may use the information as it wants since the respondentsgave out the information without questioning on how the informationwill be used.
Insome situations, information collected in a survey can be usedagainst a respondent. For instance, a respondent may provideinformation that may be used in a court of law. Take, for instance, arespondent may provide a negative feedback concerning a companycollecting information. In such a case, a company may use suchinformation to show defamation. However, the respondent can arguethat the company asked for information without indicating its use.
Inorder to take care of such a problem, every company conducting asurvey should provide the respondents with a consent form. Thisconsent form should provide information such as the identity of thecompany conducting research, contacts, reasons for the survey, andhow the information collected in the survey will be used. Throughsuch information, a respondent will be in a position to determinewhether to participate in the survey or not. In case a companyconducting survey does not provide such information, then therespondent should not participate in the survey. Therefore, providinga consent form is critical in eliminating this problem.
Onthe other hand, when conducting surveys, another ethical issue thatemerges is the right of the respondent of withdrawing from thesurvey. After a respondent giving consent to participate in a survey,it becomes exceedingly difficult for him or her to withdraw from thesurvey. In most cases, once a respondent commences a survey, he orshe is not provided with the right of withdrawing from the survey. Incase a company conducting a survey does not offer the respondent withthe right of exiting the survey at any point, then the respondentshould not participate in such a survey. Although some companiesallow a respondent to exit survey if need be, some companies do not.For instance, an online survey can provide the respondent with a timelimit of participating in a survey this implies that in case aparticipant starts the survey, he or she cannot exit till he or shecompletes the survey. In case a participant is not provided with theright of exiting a survey, he or she should not participate in thesurvey and in case he or she is forced to participate, he/she shouldseek legal assistance.
Incase a person is forced to participate in a survey, he/she shouldconsider seeking legal assistance. A company that forces aparticipant to engage in a survey can be charged in a court of law incase the participant sues the company. In this case, the participanthas a right to withdraw from a survey without being forced.
Thisissue can be addressed by ensuring that before a survey, a companyprovides participants with the right of withdrawing from a survey atany point. In case the participant feels that he/she would not be ina position to engage in a survey at a given point, he/she should goahead and exit. However, at the point of exit, a respondent shouldnot withdraw any information that he/she has provided. Providingparticipants with this right is critical since they would be capableof participating willingly.
Inaddition, anonymity is another ethical issue that emerges whenconducting a survey. Anonymity is an exceedingly crucial aspect, whenconducting a survey because it helps in keeping information providedby a given respondent as a secret. Consider a situation, where thenames of respondents and their responses are maintained. In such ascenario, it is feasible to know the information that a particularrespondent provided. This is wrong because in such a situation,respondents can be discriminated against due to their responses.Besides, in case it is a sensitive issue that a company wants toknow, retaining the names of the respondents and their responses canlead to associating a certain respondent with a given response. Thisis wrong because such information can be used to defame a person.
Ininstances, where anonymity is not ensured, the participants maybecome defamed since most of their sensitive information will be inthe open. A participant can sue a company that uses the informationit gets to defame him or her. A researcher or company conducting asurvey will be responsible for paying the damages caused due todefamation (Buchanan,2004). For instance, an employee may give certain sensitiveinformation that may lead to the employer spreading out theinformation. In such a case, the employee can seek court interventionfor the employer damaging his/her name.
Theissue of anonymity can be addressed through ensuring that no namesare retained during surveys. This will guarantee that no informationbecomes associated with a particular respondent. Besides, in order toensure anonymity, data should be analyzed collectively, but notindividually.
Differentethical issues emerge, when businesses are conducting surveys.Confidentiality and anonymity comprise such issues. When conductingsurveys, businesses have not been capable of showing anonymity andconfidentiality of the information that they collect. This isunethical since the information provided by the respondent may beused against him/her. Another issue is failure of giving therespondent the right to withdraw from a survey at any given point.There should be a consent form that should be provided prior toconducting a survey. Through the consent form, a respondent shoulddecide whether to engage in the survey or not at his/her own will. Incase the information provided by the respondent is used wrongly bythe company in such a manner to defame the participant, therespondent may seek legal intervention.
Buchanan,E. A. (2004). Readingsin virtual research ethics: Issues and controversies.Hershey, Pa. [u.a.: Information Science Publ.
Groves,R. M., Fowler, F. J., Couper, M., Lepkowski, J. M., Singer, E., &Tourangeau, R. (2009). Surveymethodology.Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.
Kimmel,A. J. (2007). Ethicalissues in behavioral research: Basic and applied perspectives.Oxford, UK: Blackwell Pub.
Zikmund,W. G., & Babin, B. J. (2007). Exploringmarketing research.Mason, Ohio: Thomson South-Western.