Suppose you are the CEO of a company that manufactures specialized electronic equipment used by a government department. You have submitted your bid for the supply of this equipment to the department. Both the quality and cost of your offer are better than those of the competitors. Yet the concerned officer is demanding a
Hefty bribe for approving the tender. Getting the order is important both for you and for your company. Not getting the order would mean closing a production line. It may also affect your own career. However, as a value-conscious person, you do not want to give bribe. Valid arguments can be advanced both for giving the bribe and getting the order, and for refusing to pay the bribe and risking the loss of the order. What those arguments could be? Could there be any better way to get out of this dilemma? If so, outline the main elements of this third way, pointing out its merits. (250 words)
Source: 2014 Mains question paper- 4
Note: this answer has been written for the purposes of explanation; Hence, it may not adhere to word limit. For examination purposes, phrases instead of full sentences could be used.
- The above case presents a situation where a bribe is demanded by an officer to approve a tender. While the tender is important for my company and my career, giving the bribe would be ethically incorrect. An examination of the various options available follows:
- Arguments for giving the bribe
- Responsibility/job obligations- Giving the bribe would ensure that my organisation secures the contract. It ensures that the production line is not shut down. Hence, as CEO, I would fulfil my job obligations and cater to the interest of my organisation.
- Personal Interests satisfied- The undue effects that losing the contract might have on my career are averted.
- Bribery is the order of the day- If my organisation doesn't give bribes, some other company would and secure the contract.
- Arguments against giving the bribe
- Against ethical principles- Giving bribe is against principles of honesty and integrity. The organisational values are violated.
- Personal integrity violated- As value-conscious person, my personal resolve not to indulge in any wrongdoing is violated.
- Financially prudent decision- the hefty bribe would endure high costs on the company.
- Promotes corruption- It would lead to the officer indulging in further corrupt activities. It promotes corruption in the country at large.
- Third Option- Contact the relevant officer and try to persuade him stating clearly that my offer is the best amongst competitors. If the process fails, contact the seniors of the officer and the relevant complaints authority to pursue the case further.
- Merits of third option-
- Responsibility/job obligations fulfilled- It maintains the chance that my organisation would get the contract, if I am able to persuade the officer or ensure that an appropriate enquiry is made in the matter.
- Ethical principles and personal integrity upheld- Ensures that I adhere to principles of integrity and honesty. The organisational values are upheld.
- Checks further corruption- reporting the instance may prevent the officer from demanding any further bribes. It makes a start at putting corruption to check.
- Personal Interests maybe satisfied- The undue effects that losing the contract might have on my career maybe averted.
- Hence, the third option is the most appropriate course of action as it caters to the organisational interests and abides by ethical principles simultaneously.