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Deception and Self Deception: An investigation of Multi-level marketing distributors and their deceptive practices on social media
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Business Administration. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2019 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Background: Multi-level marketing (MLM) is a specific type of direct selling where distribution and sales are facilitated through various levels of independent distributors. The MLM industry has changed through social media and it has become a channel for the distributors to communicate with customers and potential distributors. The downside to this development is that Internet and social media has made lies and exaggerations, digital deception, more common.

Purpose and research questions: The purpose of this research is to investigate deceptive social media practices done by distributors of MLM firms operating in Sweden and discuss them from an ethical perspective. 1. What characteristics drive distributors in MLM firms to participate in practices that can be perceived as deceptive? 2. What deceptive practices on social media by distributors can be identified? 3. How do former distributors view the ethics of their own practices versus the practices of other distributors? Is self deception an aspect to consider?

Method: The study applies a qualitative method to an explorative, cross-sectional research design. The collection of empirical data was done by conducting 9 semi-structured interviews with former MLM distributors.

Result: Characteristics that drive deceptive practices are training, authority, transferal of norms and validating behaviour. Six deceptive practices were identified: pretending to be consumers on other distributors’ posts, manipulating before and after pictures, lying and exaggerating about the benefits of the products, pretending to be potential recruits, falsely describing the benefits of the business opportunity and charging extra for shipping. Former distributors were more willing to blame other distributors for unethical behaviour than themselves, which may be due to self deception.

Contribution of the study: This study contributes with a modern perspective of MLM distributors. It extends existing research of ethical issues within MLM and contributes with the addition of self deception to provide deeper understanding.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 87
Keywords [en]
Multi-level marketing, Digital Deception, Distributor Characteristics, Deceptive Practices, Self Deception
National Category
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-158218ISRN: LIU-IEI-FIL-A--19/03035--SEOAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-158218DiVA, id: diva2:1331377
Subject / course
Master Thesis in International Business and Economics Programme (Business Administration)
Presentation
2019-06-04, S19, C-huset, Campus Valla, Linköping, 10:45 (English)
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2019-09-03 Created: 2019-06-26 Last updated: 2019-09-03Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
Permanent link

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Citation style
  • apa
  • ieee
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More styles
Language
  • de-DE
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  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
  • rtf