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The research article written by Yamamura and Grupe (2005) called “Ethical Standards for Online Advice Giving” is a comprehensive source of information on the topic of ethical conduct when providing services on the Internet. It should be noted that the authors throw light on the benefits and barriers of online advice-giving and provide insights into the ways companies or individuals could ensure ethical standards are met in their practice. The purpose of this paper is to summarize and review this article, analyze its strengths and weaknesses, and determine the importance of society.
The authors stressed that the Internet had become a new and powerful tool for businesses to seize their potential and expand capabilities. It enables companies and individuals to grow without significant investments while raising clients’ awareness of the company and reaching wider audiences throughout the world. However, the use of the Internet implies certain ethical responsibilities and threats for both customers and businesses, which should not be ignored.
This understanding poses a certain degree of liability on companies since it is their responsibility to ensure the validity and reliability of the services they offer online. Importantly, Yamamura and Grupe (2005) delineate such notions as information and advice. They state that anyone can provide legal information on a subject; nevertheless, only an authorized body can give legal advice, and the violation of this rule is a serious breach.
In terms of unique opportunities that online activity provides, the authors emphasize that ease of access, potential savings, and reaching wider audiences are the main advantages that the Internet can bring to the business.
However, certain disadvantages are present as well. For instance, difficulties in communication (impossibility to use body language, reliance on the printed text, differences in skills) pose a threat to the success of interaction (Yamamura & Grupe, 2005). In addition, anonymity cannot be fully guaranteed and as well as the trustworthiness of information or service provided to the client. Therefore, these obstacles can strongly affect the ethics of conduct as well as the perceptions of potential customers. Overall, in comparison to traditional advice-giving, online consultations are perceived as less valid and credible.
Important Ethical Issues
Notably, the writers raised important ethical issues related to various aspects of online advice-giving. In particular, they question whether it is always possible to evaluate the quality of services a person receives virtually and if the information provided is reliable. They assume that it is difficult to determine the credibility of the source of information and whether it is quality enough to be disseminated or used further.
Apart from that, they state that cultural and language issues are rather significant as well. Local specific factors might be decisive in certain settings (Yamamura & Grupe, 2005). In addition, the loss of important information can proceed in translation; therefore, advice providers should be sure of the validity of the translated information when delivering it to a client whose first language is different. Moreover, privacy and confidentiality are often jeopardized when communication occurs virtually.
Yamamura and Grupe (2005) also question the form of delivery. They reasonably wonder if the quality of advice decreases when it is provided via the Internet, or it is equal in quality to the guideline received in person from an authorized body. Also, they stress the uncertainty that a client might experience in terms of the format. When businesses furnish their services online, it is not always possible to determine whether it is available 24/7 or at specific times (Yamamura & Grupe, 2005).
The same issues are discussed regarding provider-customer relationship and contractual considerations. However, more importantly, the research team stressed the applicability of the received advice. Interestingly, the question of whether the service of unsatisfactory quality can be reversed or not and what jurisdiction aspects should be reinforced in such settings.
The writers suggest certain strategies ensure ethical standards of online advice-giving are met. In particular, they suggest that only licensed and authorized bodies or parties should provide any legal/financial or other important advice to avoid misinformation and disorientation. In addition, they recommend specifying whether the advice provided has a complementary character or not. Apart from that, it is essential to determine the appropriateness of applying this advice in various settings.
Another crucial recommendation is to ensure client confidentiality and website security. The essential information on security should be available to all clients and should be presented in a clear manner (Yamamura & Grupe, 2005). Moreover, integrity is important as well, and it is the responsibility of advice providers to make references to appropriate individuals or parties when the business is presenting secondary information or ideas. In addition, Yamamura and Grupe (2005) suggest that using informed consent and client authorization will help to avoid possible violations and will ease the process of communication.
Strengths and Weaknesses
It should be noted that the article has particular strengths and weaknesses. The assumptions made by the writers are indeed persuasive, and they reflect the actual concerns faced by all stakeholders who are both businesses and their clients. In addition, the issues raised by the writing are rather relatable since the discussed questions frequently bother those seeking legal or financial advice online (Yamamura & Grupe, 2005).
In addition, the writers reference valid and credible resources when citing researches conducted on the topic. However, more importantly, the authors provided solutions and concrete recommendations that would help businesses to overcome the ethical issues discussed throughout the article.
Nevertheless, the text is rather outdated and refers to studies conducted more than a decade ago. In addition, it is difficult to determine whether the article relies on qualitative or quantitative studies since it has a descriptive character. It is possible to assume that specific allusions to statistical information or quality data would reinforce the article’s credibility and reliability. Apart from that, the intended audience is not clear enough.
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The authors make a particular emphasis on recommendations for online service providers, while a large portion of the text discusses obstacles that could be faced by recipients (Yamamura & Grupe, 2005). Nonetheless, the guidelines offered could be used as a starting point for advice seekers as well since they can use this information to direct their decision-making and comprehension, whether a particular service provider is reliable or not.
Importance and Implications for Society
Despite the weaknesses of the article discussed in the previous part, and the date of publication, the importance of this writing should not be diminished. The text effectively summarized all critical aspects of online interaction between an adviser and a customer and reviewed the opportunities companies could attain if they transferred their activities on the Internet. Moreover, the authors have developed a form of ethics code for interactive advisers, which can be used to ensure that the service is reliable and the concerns of potential clients are addressed effectively. Given the uncertainty that individuals tend to experience when choosing among existing options, the recommendations compiled by Yamamura and Grupe (2005) will guide them to choose the most appropriate and reliable provider.
One of the most significant and fundamental implications for society is the understanding that various technologies of advice-giving should be developed based on this code of ethics, and providers should employ such strategies to ensure their service meets ethical criteria so that clients can use them securely. The discussion of such problems has raised the awareness of the general public and businesses as well that these issues should be resolved.
In addition, it has provoked a debate about which services could be offered via the Internet and which of them only a certified professional in a traditional setting should furnish. The taxonomy of questions developed by the authors evidences the need to make sure that any virtual contact is safe and ethical enough. Every provider and client could use this list to drive his or her decision-making. However, more importantly, these ethical standards could be used to initiate policies or acts that would regulate the work of such services and impose strict limitations to prevent and manage any ethical violations.
Thus, it can be concluded that the article by Yamamura and Grupe (2005) is a useful source of information for businesses and their clients. The recommendations provided in it will help to secure the process of virtual interaction for both parties. Despite the fact that the article is dated the year 2005, it is a credible and insightful resource, and it can be used for establishing corporate ethical policies in contemporary organizations.
Yamamura, J., & Grupe, F. (2005). Ethical standards for online advice giving: An overview of the issues for business and financial advisers. Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, 3(2), 69-77.