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The direct and indirect effect of NFC on marketers’ work norms, vocational socialization, individual ethical position, and ethical perceptions

Nicholas McClaren (Department of Marketing, Faculty of Business and Law, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia)
Andrea Vocino (Department of Marketing, Deakin University, Burwood, Australia)

Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing

ISSN: 0885-8624

Article publication date: 6 February 2017



The research sought to expand the conceptual understanding of the antecedents of decision-making under ethical conditions. This study aims to better understand the relationships among need for cognition (NFC), the individual ethical positions of ethical idealism and ethical relativism, organizational and professional socialization, work-related norms and ethical perceptions.


The study compared the impact of environmental influences (i.e. socialization and work-related norm) and individual temporally stable characteristics (i.e. NFC and ethical position) on ethical perceptions. The research surveyed marketers and tested a hypothesized model using structural equation modeling.


NFC influences marketers’ individual ethical position, their professional socialization and their work norms. The work norms of marketers are influenced by individual ethical position and organizational socialization, but not by professional socialization. Professional socialization is influenced by ethical idealism and not ethical relativism.

Research limitations/implications

A judgmental sampling technique was used and the findings cannot be generalized to other populations.

Practical implications

This research provides managers with alternative tools to encourage compliance with professional and corporate guidelines. If managers are seeking an enduring positive influence on work norms, they should be as concerned about the thinking of their employees and their employees’ ethical positions as they are with the vocational rules their subordinates adopt.

Social implications

Society will benefit from better understanding the different ways in which the ethical perceptions of individual employees are influenced and the various ways in which managers can contribute to ethically responsible corporations.


Although NFC has been examined in other vocational and decision-making contexts, its influence on individual ethical position, vocational socialization and work-related norms has not been empirically examined in ethical contexts for business decision-making.



The authors thank Professor Adam Finn, University of Alberta, for his comments on the data analysis. The authors also thank the anonymous reviewers for their critical and positive contribution to this article.


McClaren, N. and Vocino, A. (2017), "The direct and indirect effect of NFC on marketers’ work norms, vocational socialization, individual ethical position, and ethical perceptions", Journal of Business & Industrial Marketing, Vol. 32 No. 1, pp. 109-123.



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