When does Ethical Code Enforcement Matter in the Inter-Organizational Context? The Moderating Role of Switching Costs

Journal of Business Ethics 104 (1):47-58 (2011)
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Abstract

Drawing on signaling theory, we suggest that a supplier’s enforcement of ethical codes sends signals about the supplier that affect a buyer’s decision to continue their commitment to the supplier. We then draw on side-bet theory to hypothesize how switching costs influence the importance of a supplier’s enforcement of ethical codes in predicting a buyer’s continuance commitment to a supplier. We empirically test our model with data from 158 purchasing managers across three manufacturing industries. Results confirm the connection between ethical code enforcement and continuance commitment, but suggest that a supplier’s enforcement of ethical codes matter less when switching suppliers is perceived as too costly.

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