Target Population: Pharmaceutical sales and marketing professionals working in the U.S.

Sample Size: 120 to 150 participants from one or more companies. I calculated this sample size based on an effect size f of .15, power (1 - β err prob) of .95, two groups, with three predictor measures.  For this study, I plan to use two randomized groups with 60 to 75 participants in each group. 


  1. Participants will first complete an informed consent form prior to participating in the study.
  2. The group of 120-150 participants will be randomized into 2 groups.
  3. Participants will download a mobile learning application to complete the study.
  4. All participants will complete a questionnaire and an ethical decision-making pretest.
  5. Group 1 will be assigned to view a series of 5 entertainment-education videos.
  6. Group 0 will be assigned to review a series of 5 e-Learning modules.
  7. After reviewing the instructional content, both groups will complete an ethical decision-making posttest.
  8. Finally, each group will complete two surveys to measure engagement in the content.


Group 1 will view a 5-part series of Entertainment-Education videos designed to increase awareness  and improve ethical judgment of pharmaceutical commercial compliance topics. Each video is approximately 5-7 minutes in length.

Group 0 will view a 5-part series of e-Learning courses also designed to increase awareness  and improve ethical judgment of pharmaceutical commercial compliance topics. The e-Learning course contains the same narrative of the video. Each e-Learning module is approximately 5-7 minutes in length.



What is Entertainment-Education and why consider it as a mechanism for teaching business ethics and corporate compliance?

Introduced in the 1970s, Entertainment-Education (EE) is a model for developing stories or narratives with the intent to raise awareness of an issue, influence attitudes, or change behavioral intentions (Singhal, Cody, Rogers, & Sabido, 2004). To achieve these objectives, producers of EE narratives design the story and the characters hoping that the reader or viewer will be both immersed in the story and connect with the characters. If a character in a film behaves poorly and is punished, the viewer may decide to avoid that behavior. If a character in a story behaves appropriately and is rewarded, the viewer may decide to adopt that behavior. This principle of modeling behavior in a story and showing the outcomes, is based on Bandura's (1986) Social Cognitive Theory.

Albert Bandura conducted a famous experiment in 1961 where his research team reported that children changed their behaviors after watching a film of a teach kicking and punching an inflatable Bobo Doll. Bandura's findings from that experiment, and his Social Cognitive Theory, form a framework for EE design and development.

Examples EE Video Projects

(1) In this example video, the producers wanted to raise awareness of cervical cancer, and change attitudes regarding cervical cancer screening. There are three characters in this video: (1) the older sister who has engaged in sexual activity and contracted cervical cancer, (2) the younger sister unaware of the risks associated with unprotected sexual activity, and (3) the grandmother who has no intentions to seek for cervical cancer screenings. In the video, the younger sister and the grandmother change their way of thinking and model the desired behaviors. Click here: The Tamale Lesson

(2) In 2013 I attended a pharmaceutical compliance conference in Philadelphia. While listening to a story from a US Attorney from the DOJ, I thought that it would make a good addition to our educational video series. I approached him during the coffee break and asked him for details about the story. Gina's story is a variation of what he shared with me that day. In this scene, Gina relates her story of misjudgements as a pharmaceutical sales representative. Kim, the main character in the video series, listens and learns from Gina's story. Click Here: Gina's Story, password = theworkshop


Bandura, A., Ross, D., & Ross, S. A. (1963). Imitation of film-mediated aggressive models. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 66(1), 3-11.

Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action a social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, N.J: Prentice-Hall.

Singhal, A., Cody, M. J., Rogers, E. M., & Sabido, M. (Eds.). (2004). Entertainment-education and social change: history, research, and practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.



Effects of Entertainment-Education versus e-Learning on Pharmaceutical Sales Ethical Decision-Making

Between 1991 and 2012, pharmaceutical company settlements with the United States exceeded $30 billion dollars (Rodwin, 2015).  The question asked by Rodwin (2015) and others (Gagnon, 2013; Outterson, 2012) is whether financial fines have had an effect stemming illegal and unethical business management practices in the pharmaceutical industry. 

General and Specific Problems

The general problem is that while management at some companies spend an average of $200,000 annually on compliance and ethics training (Kann, 2013), the effectiveness of these programs to raise employee awareness of compliance risks, and improve ethical decision-making is in question (Treviño, Nieuwenboer, and Kish-Gepharts, 2011; Warren, Gaspar, & Laufer, 2014).  The more specific problem is that sales and marketing managers consistently struggle to identify compliance risks, effectively judge the ethical nature of sales and marketing strategies, and demonstrate behavioral intentions to speak-up.  The target audience for this study includes pharmaceutical sales managers and employees.


The purpose of this quantitative experimental study is to compare the effectiveness of two compliance training program types, entertainment-education, and e-Learning, on ethical decision-making and behavioral intentions to speak-up in the pharmaceutical sales professions. Researchers and practitioners may use findings from this study to determine whether a high-cost professionally developed entertainment-education video is significantly more effective than a simple e-Learning course using static images and on-screen text to influence ethical issue awareness, ethical judgments, and behavioral intentions to speak-up.


Gagnon, M. (2013). Corruption of pharmaceutical markets: Addressing the misalignment of financial incentives and public health. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 41(3), 571-580. doi:10.1111/jlme.12066

Kann, R. (2013). Compliance and ethics training benchmarking reports (Rep. No. CELC7083113SYN) (A. K. McDougall, Ed.). District of Columbia, MD: Corporate Executive Board.

Outterson, K. (2012). Punishing health care fraud — is the GSK settlement sufficient? New England Journal of Medicine, 367(12), 1082-1085. doi: 10.1056/NEJMp1209249

Rodwin, M.A. (2015). Do we need stronger sanctions to ensure legal compliance with pharmaceutical firms? Food and Drug Law Journal, 70, 435-452

Treviño, L. K., Nieuwenboer, N. A., & Kish-Gephart, J. J. (2014). (Un)Ethical behavior in organizations. Annual Review of Psychology, 65(1), 130708143622004. doi:10.1146/annurev-psych-113011-143745

Warren, D. E., Gaspar, J. P., & Laufer, W. S. (2014). Is formal ethics training merely cosmetic? A study of ethics training and ethical organizational culture. Business Ethics Quarterly, 24(1), 85-117. doi:10.5840/beq2014233