Mike O’Brien’s Ethical Dilemma in Weighing the Benefits against the Ethical Costs of the Sale of Construction Equipment in Africa
How it works
It is said that “A salesperson’s ethics and values contribute more to sales success than do techniques or strategies.”(Willingham, 2003). As a salesman your job is simple, sell a given product, and maximize profits. But with this sales people are often confronted with situations where they must question the ethics involved in the sale. As is the case with Mike O’Brien and his pending sale for construction equipment in Africa. In this scenario the government minister is demanding that if Mikes Company is to win the contract that they will need to pay him $100,000 and an additional 10% commission on future parts and services. Mike will need to assess the ethics of this sale if he is going to move forward with the proposal.
According to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977 it is illegal for any US company to offer a bribe to a foreign official in exchange for any form of consideration. Seeing as the minister in this particular case is asking for a bribe technically Mike should recognize this, and should recommend to his company that they walk away from the deal. Just because the minister in this case seems to be corrupt in how he conducts business, I do not feel that Mike should simply walk away from the deal, but should rather restructure the deal. For instance Mike should make it known to the minister that they simply cannot conduct business in this manner, and therefore will not be able to pay him that bribe directly. If he is able, Mike should then offer to instead decrease the price of the deal by $100,000 instead. Obviously this may not be appealing to the minister because it does not benefit him directly, but it does benefit his country. It is said that “if the sales person helps the customer with what he or she needs, trust is built and where trust exists, long-term relationships flourish.” (Willingham, 2013). In this case the minister may see that Mike is trustworthy sand willing to work with him to make the deal happen, this sort of relationship building may lead to a long term business relationship between Mike company and the African nation. Although many other contractors still offer up bribes in order to win a contract, I believe it is in both Mike and his company’s long term best interest to refrain from such business practices. First because of the legal and ethical issues involved, but secondly because of the potential effects such actions could have on the reputation of the company. Although it may win them this contract, the potential of gaining a reputation as “corrupt” may be far more damaging in the long run.
How it works
The potential business coming out of this sale is very big for both Mike and his company, but some of the actions that may need to be taken in order to complete the sale may be unethical and could put Mike in dangerous territory. Ultimately Mike will need to weigh the benefits of the sale, against the potential cost of his actions and decide if it is worth it to proceed with the proposal.