Corporate identity, ethics and reputation in supplier–buyer relationships

Journal of Business Ethics 76 (1):69 - 82 (2007)
Multi-national corporations (MNCs) have been criticised for not behaving ethically in some situations, which could have a negative effect on their reputation. This study examines the ethics of a large MNC in its relationship with its suppliers. A brief literature review of corporate identity, business ethics and buyer–supplier relationships is undertaken. The views and perceptions of the buying staff and the suppliers to a large South African MNC are obtained and discussed. The results indicate that this MNC has a good corporate reputation among both its suppliers (an important stakeholder) and its own buying department. The existence and implementation of formal codes of ethics was found to be a necessary, but not sufficient condition for good ethical practice. Candid relationships with suppliers emerged as a second and important factor. Ethical perceptions of buyers by suppliers are driven by the management of corporate identity, through the elements of ethical standards and candid relationships. We present a model of corporate identity/reputation in Buyer–Supplier Relationships.
Keywords corporate identity  business ethics  supplier–buyer relationships  reputation
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