, Volume 13, Issue 9, pp 739-745

Unethical behaviour in procurement: A perspective on causes and solutions

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Enterprise management often encourages their marketing personnel to offer gifts to purchasers of clients but won't allow the purchasers of the company to accept gifts. This double standards create an atmosphere of dishonesty in the company.

When considering that purchasers fulfilling the procurement function for a company are the major spenders of company funds, and that purchasers are frequently tempted to accept gifts and prevailing double standards within the company, it is no wonder that they sometimes succumb to unethical behaviour. The purchasing environment thus creates an atmosphere conductive to unethical behaviour.

However, the cause of unethical behaviour is not necessarily the individual's lack of moral standards. Research has shown that the actions of managers, the ethical climate in the enterprise and the absence of a company policy on the matter are all contributing factors towards unethical behaviour. Unethical behaviour of purchasers and other personnel involved in procurement can therefore be prevented or limited by implementing certain measures.

This article focuses on ethics, procurement or purchasing ethics, and unethical behaviour among purchasers in general, as well as more specifically on the situation in South Africa, and makes recommendations for establishing codes of conduct, other procedures and policies for improving the situation of the purchaser in the enterprise.

Dr Badenhorst is presently associate-professor, in Purchasing and Materials Management at the University of South Africa. She made contributions to a wide range of journals regarding marketing, management, development and public administration. She also presented scientific papers at various international and national conferences. She was also instrumental in starting (and manages) the first (and only) Certificate in Purchasing Management course in South Africa.