Ethical reasoning in business‐to‐business negotiations: evidence from relationships in the chemical industry in Germany

Business Ethics: A European Review 25 (2):128-143 (2016)
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This article explores managers’ ethical reasoning for behaviors in price negotiations using evidence from 15 in-depth interviews conducted with sales and purchasing representatives in the chemical industry in Germany. Applying transaction cost economics, we find that negotiators in commoditized market-like exchanges either refer to deontological norms such as not to lie, or they neglect a role for ethics, arguing that distributive negotiation is per se opportunistic. In contrast, exchanges of products with higher asset specificity lead to stronger informational integration which is supported with teleological justifications. Some negotiators use teleological justification to build business on trust rather than on economic safeguards as their firm norms would require. For negotiators, our results suggest considering institutional context and adjusting ethical reasoning to the negotiation situation. Firms need to recognize and find ways to address the potential conflicts of their internal norms with their frontline managers’ attempts to act in the firms’ best economic and ethical interests



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References found in this work

Ethics.William Frankena - 1967 - Philosophy of Science 34 (1):74-74.
Professional ethics and the culture of trust.Andrew Brien - 1998 - Journal of Business Ethics 17 (4):391 - 409.

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