Of a complex sensitivity in marketing ethics education

Brennan, Ross; Eagle, Lynne; Ellis, Nick and Higgins, Matthew (2010). Of a complex sensitivity in marketing ethics education. Journal of Marketing Management, 26(13-14) pp. 1165–1180.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0267257X.2010.522196


This paper scrutinises the way in which ethics is taught in the modern marketing syllabus. Our intention is to open up a space within which to promote timely debate on contemporary marketing education. Specifically, we wish to ask whether the tutor's role as a conduit of apparent ethical knowledge to students has somehow failed to map with sufficient sensitivity the terrain of the moral impulse in business practice. Drawing on literature from educational philosophy and the work of Emmanuel Levinas, we argue that the conceptualisation of ethics in marketing cannot be divorced from the question of pedagogy and the responsibilities of the tutor. This reading of ethics in marketing leads us to suggest that the largely conventional model adopted for the teaching of marketing may be unsatisfactory. Whilst current approaches may provide students with a prescribed set of knowledge and skills, it may by the same token refuse us the moral education that seems to be necessary. The significance for the teaching of ethics in an atmosphere punctuated with the discourses of economic crisis is acknowledged. We call for a reappraisal of the tutor/student relationship such that we may facilitate a greater understanding of how marketing students can make sense of themselves and of ‘the Other’. To begin the process of articulation, we offer an example drawn from nursing education. Through this, we consider the requirements of the capable moral educator and offer initial practical suggestions on how this could be incorporated within teaching.

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