Bidding on Ethics

Jun 23, 2020 in Case Study

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Alexander Gavin is presently facing an ethical dilemma and is stranded between two options that have their merits and demerits. It is difficult to choose the right one and abandon the other. Thus, extensive rational thinking needs to be applied. Therefore, to make certain that the best solution is selected, ethical principles are to be considered in order to reach the most morally upright decision.

Alexander Gavin is an EL Sahd Construction Company’s Senior Project Manager. His major role is to ensure that the firm gets the best projects while trying to save organizational money. Currently, the corporation has bidden a $30 million project in Iran to be the primary subcontractor. Another establishment, Ajax Ltd was also eying the same contract. However, Gavin knew that he could hold talks with their competitor to allow them to be the ones who got the deal. When he finally met Ajax’s manager in Iran, the negotiating process took a rather surprising twist. He was told that in order to reach the agreement the company would have to raise their bid to $33 million. The manager on the ground would keep $1 million for himself while the Ajax’s Managing Director in London would pocket another $1 million. The remaining balance was to go to Alexander’s account to secure that he remained silent on the settlement. Since Alexander is reluctant to accept the terms of the contract, the manager persuades him that bribery is the norm in Iran. For one to play, he or she needs to pay. Alexander is torn in between since, in one respect, he knows that the business will be lucrative for the corporation while he still cannot bring himself to accept corrupt practices.

Theory of Cultural Relativism

Cultural relativism is defined as the principle of understanding the beliefs and activities of an individual community based on the culture itself (Sobo & Loustaunau, 2010). Therefore, relying on this definition, Alexander must know what the manager's point of view is. He has explicitly told that his way of dealing with partners is the one dictated by the society. The country is knee deep in a culture, which is riddled with corruption in each aspect of life. However, the idea of bribing to achieve one’s goal is not promoted by religion that is widely practiced in Iran. The traditional religion in the country is Islam, which forbids such activities. The Quran urges people who practice the faith not to engage in any business that encourages bribery. Therefore, a clash of culture already exists within the state borders. Furthermore, Alexander’s cultural background does not allow him to participate in such fraudulent acts. He is not comfortable engaging in activities that are corrupt in nature and in addition to this he will be stealing from his employer. Therefore, based on the theory of cultural relativism, either Alexander or the manager will have to compromise on their stances and view the situation from the other’s point of view.

ABCD’s of Ethical Decision Making

Based on the ABCD of ethical decision-making, four important steps need to be followed when reaching an ethical resolution (Brown & Black, 2011). The first one is the Analysis Phase where one tries to maintain where the problem is. In this scenario, Alexander wants to secure the deal for his company and he has been presented with the route to do so. However, the option involves engaging in a corrupt activity that would make the corporation lose an extra $3 million in vain. The next stage is the Brainstorming Phase where possible solutions to the issue are developed. Here, Alexander has two choices, which he should consider. One would be to conclude the agreement with the manager and make earn money for his organization while earning $1 million in the process. Another variant would be to decline the offer on the grounds of his morality and report the situation to El Sahd Construction Company. 

The next step is the Consequences Phase where the negative and positive outcomes of all the alternatives created are examined. The advantage of the first option is that Alexander will secure the deal, which will generate his company substantial revenue. In addition, he will obtain $1 million in the process. On the downside, Alexander puts himself at risk of prosecution and professional damage if the truth is revealed. On the contrary, the advantage of violating the agreement is that he will increase his expert integrity and trustworthiness among the staff. However, his ethical standards might cost the company lost revenue. The final step is the Decide Phase where the most ethically sound solution is selected from the options. With reference to the possible consequences, Alexander will need to choose the best alternative.

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Alexander’s Choices

Alexander will have plenty of options, which he can pursue. Firstly, he can determine to refuse the manager’s offer that will ultimately cost the company millions of dollars in lost revenue. Furthermore, Alexander will miss a unique opportunity of making a million dollars quickly. However, if he decides to stick to this choice, then there would be nobody who would question his ethical integrity. Alexander would demonstrate his level of dedication to his workplace. Another alternative that he has is to take the bribe, which the Ajax manager is offering him. Nevertheless, the consequence of this course of action is that if the deal is disclosed, his professional career will be immediately wrecked. Additionally, he exposes himself to danger of prosecution for defrauding his enterprise and engaging in corrupt activities. With great risk huge rewards come and the same applies in this case. Moreover, failure to cooperate means that he imperils himself to face both professional and physical harm. If he resolves to resort to bribery, then he will get $1 million in the process. Besides, the establishment would be able to secure the agreement that would be very lucrative and profitable for them.

Alexander’s Decision

The best course of action for Alexander would be the high road of ethics. He needs to decline the offer, which the Ajax manager has given him since it is likely to lead down a path of nothing other than chaos. Additionally, by refusing the $1 million, he would have shown that he has put the company’s interests ahead of his own. Such acts of morality will ensure that no one in the firm questions his loyalty to the organization. Moreover, his career will be secure, and there will be no possibility of him being prosecuted for corrupt activities. To guarantee that no harm comes to him, he needs to report on both the Managing Director and manager of Ajax to the relevant authorities to make certain that this type of law violation is discouraged in the country.

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My Decision

If I were in Alexander’s position, I would agree to the deal, which has been proposed by the manager. However, I would notify the El Sahd Construction Company about the situation and ask them to cooperate. However, I would tell them that the bid’s real value is now $32 million and that the difference, which would be credited to my account as a bribe, would be returned to the organization. At $32 million, the enterprise would still make profits since the agreement was good enough to convince the firm to part with $33 million. The extra $1 million, which would be given to me as a corruptive payment would be delivered to the office. Thus, this option ensures that the corporation does not prosecute me for conspiracy to defraud them while the manager and MD of Ajax would not cast aspersions on me. Since Iran is entrenched deeply in a culture of bribery and corruption, it would be pointless to report the latter to the authorities since they would use their resources to buy their freedom.

In conclusion, the situation in which Alexander Gavin finds himself has its negative and positive outcomes regardless of the decision that he makes. He can either get rich and compromise his integrity or risk the professional career and prove that he is a morally upright man. However, by applying the relevant ethical principles and using rational thinking, he will reach the best solution. 

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