Journal of Business Ethics 77 (2):173 - 189 (2008)

Catherine Driscoll
North Carolina State University
The focus of this paper is to further a discussion of codes of ethics as institutionalized organizational structures that extend some form of legitimacy to organizations. The particular form of legitimacy is of critical importance to our analysis. After reviewing various theories of legitimacy, we analyze the literature on how legitimacy is derived from codes of ethics to discover which specific form of legitimacy is gained from their presence in organizations. We content analyze a sample of codes to consider the question of whether a strategic, self-interested rationale lies behind the adoption of a code of ethics. We propose that the process of employing codes of ethics in this strategic manner has become, through isomorphism, an institutionalized practice that itself confers a cognitive form of legitimacy to the organization and further distances the codes from their moral foundation.
Keywords codes of ethics  isomorphism  organizational legitimacy  strategic legitimacy
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Reprint years 2007, 2008
DOI 10.1007/s10551-006-9307-y
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References found in this work BETA

Business codes of multinational firms: What do they say?Muel Kaptein - 2004 - Journal of Business Ethics 50 (1):13-31.
A Code of Ethics for Corporate Code of Ethics.Mark S. Schwartz - 2002 - Journal of Business Ethics 41 (1-2):27 - 43.

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