This model was designed by marketing ethics experts for marketing professionals but there is no reason it cannot be applied to the broader business arena.
We met Scott Vitell first at IESE’s “Business Ethics & Society” in Barcelona May 2004 and promises of a visit to Dublin to speak at ‘Corporate Conscience’ were kept in November 2013!
Against the background of a growing literature in marketing ethics devoted mostly to the application of teleological, deontological, and other normative models to marketing problems, Shelby Hunt and Scott Vitell proposed a behavioural or positive model of ethical behaviour that has been extensively tested.
This complex model takes into account, in sequence:
- such environmental factors as the industry and organisational environment;
- the recognition of an ethical problem, optional solutions to the problem, and the likely consequences of the various solutions and their desirability and probability;
- deontological norms that might “trump” any of the solution alternatives;
- an ethical judgement based on these steps;
- the formation of intentions; and
- actual behaviour.
The separation of these components recognises the prospect that, while the components are connected, they are distinct and, for example, an ethical judgment may still be followed by an unethical act.
This model also provides for experiential feedback or learning such that the consequences of an act might inform future assessments and actions.
Their original work is available at:
and an update at: