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Travelling with a Code of Ethics: A Contextual Study of a Swedish MNC Auditing a Chinese Supplier
Örebro University School of Business, Örebro University, Sweden.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Umeå School of Business and Economics (USBE), Business Administration.
2014 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 107, no 16 November, 41-53 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Corporate codes of ethics are integrated into supplier-auditing processes in the hope of ensuring sustainability throughout the supply chain. But little is known about what actually happens when one standardized code of ethics is disseminated and applied in audits on suppliers across the globe. This study builds on the literature on the ‘translation of management ideas’ and examines what happens when a corporate code of ethics travels in a global context. The specific case reports on a Swedish Multinational Corporation (MNC) with a standardized code of ethics applied in the practice of auditing a supplier in Eastern China. The study shows that the code can be translated in different ways in different organizational and geographical contexts. Observations of and interviews about how the code is translated in practice indicate that the code's ethics are negotiable. It is argued that sustainability and ethics are in danger of being negotiated or completely undermined when efficiency and contractual agreements set the agenda for audits, and that the relative buyer–supplier power relation can play a vital role in setting standards and demanding supplier compliance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2014. Vol. 107, no 16 November, 41-53 p.
Keyword [en]
Corporate codes of ethics, Context, Globalization, Supply chain management, Translation, Travel of ideas
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-92518DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2014.08.056OAI: diva2:741156

Received 22 January 2014, Revised 10 August 2014, Accepted 18 August 2014, Available online 30 August 2014.

Available from: 2014-08-27 Created: 2014-08-27 Last updated: 2015-11-23Bibliographically approved

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Babri, Maira
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