Ethical Issues in Purchasing

  • Alan Kitson
  • Robert Campbell


The purchasing function of modern organisations has changed from a relatively low-status, clerical role to that of a strategic business function. This has resulted from the increasing importance of material costs in the total production function and is allied to developments such as just-in-time (JIT) and total quality management (TQM) within production operations. These have led the way in changing the traditional adversarial relationship between supplier and buyer into one of partnership purchasing which works best when there is open communication and trust. Parallel to this change in the status of purchasing as a business function have been changes in the quality of those employed in purchasing. There has been a rise in the educational base of buyers and a greater willingness to seek professional qualifications as an aid to a more professional approach. Alongside this has gone increased attention to ethics, reflected in the growth in the number of codes of ethics in existence and company policies for ethical purchasing. However, there is evidence that unethical practices persist and continue to cause concern.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baily, P. and Farmer, D. (1990) Purchasing Principles and Management, 6th edn, Pitman, London.Google Scholar
  2. Barr, C. (1993) ‘A Code of Ethics: Good, Bad or Indifferent?’, Proceedings of 2nd PSERG Conference, University of Bath, pp. 19–26.Google Scholar
  3. Barry, A. (1992) ‘Days of Wine and Roses’, Purchasing and Supply Management, October, pp. 22–5.Google Scholar
  4. Bradley, P. (1989) ‘Purchasing Ethics? The Rest of Business Should Be So Strict’, Purchasing, 4th May, pp. 24–5.Google Scholar
  5. Browning, J.M. and Zabriskie, N. B. (1980) ‘Professionalism in Purchasing: A Status Report’, Journal of Purchasing and Materials Management, Fall, pp. 2–10.Google Scholar
  6. Browning, J.M. and Zabriskie, N.B. (1983) ‘How Ethical are Industrial Buyers?’, Industrial Marketing Management, vol. 12, pp. 219–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. CIPS (1977) The Ethical Code of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply, CIPS, Stamford.Google Scholar
  8. Clutterbuck, D., Dearlove, D. and Snow, D. (1992) Actions Speak Louder: A Management Guide to Corporate Social Responsibility, Kogan Page, London.Google Scholar
  9. Dubinsky, A.J. and Gwin, J.M. (1981) ‘Business Ethics: Buyers and Sellers’, Journal of Purchasing and Materials Management, Winter, pp. 9–16.Google Scholar
  10. Felch, R.I. 1985) ‘Standards of Conduct: The Key to Supplier Relations’, Journal of Purchasing and Materials Management, Fall, pp. 16–18.Google Scholar
  11. Forker, L.B. and Janson, R.L. (1992) ‘Ethical Practices in Purchasing’, Journal of Purchasing and Materials Management, Winter, pp. 19–26.Google Scholar
  12. Garrett, T. (1966) Business Ethics, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.Google Scholar
  13. McIntyre, A. (1981) After Virtue: A Study of Moral Theory, Duckworth, London.Google Scholar
  14. Murphy, P.E. and Laczniak, G.R. (1981) ‘Marketing Ethics: A Review with Implications for Managers, Educators and Researchers’, in B. Enis and K. Roering (eds), Review of Marketing 1981, American Marketing Association, Chicago, pp. 251–66.Google Scholar
  15. Narayanam, D. (1992) ‘The Right Stuff’, Purchasing and Supply Management, October, pp. 25–6.Google Scholar
  16. Ramsey, J. (1989) ‘No Bribes Please, We’re Professionals’, Purchasing and Supply Management, December, pp. 31–3.Google Scholar
  17. Rawls, J. (1972) A Theory of Justice, Oxford University Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  18. Robson, P. (1992) ‘A Day at the Races, a Night at the Opera’, Purchasing and Supply Management, Octobe, pp. 27–9.Google Scholar
  19. Ross, W. D. (1938) The Right and the Good, Clarendon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  20. Rudelius, W. and Buchholz, R. A. (1979) ‘What Industrial Purchasers See as Key Ethical Dilemmas’, Journal of Purchasing and Materials Management, Winter, pp. 2–10.Google Scholar
  21. Sibley, S. D. (1979) ‘Images of the Purchasing Department’, Journal of Purchasing and Materials Management, Fall, pp. 19–23.Google Scholar
  22. Wood, G. (1994) ‘Ethical Issues at the Marketing/Purchasing Interface: The Practitioner’s Experience’, Proceedings of the British Academy of Management Conference, University of Lancaster.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Alan Kitson and Robert Campbell 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan Kitson
  • Robert Campbell

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations