Temple University Applied Business Ethics Case Study

Instructions:

Please answer the questions below. The length of your written case assignment

form responses should be approximately one to one and a half pages, single spaced. This form

will be graded on a pass/fail basis. To pass, you need to provide reasonably detailed and

insightful answers to the questions below.

1. First, what defines a bribe? Is a restaurant tip a bribe? How about a corporate invitation

to a luxury box at say a Phillies baseball game? What criteria can you list that

distinguishes a bribe?

2. Who are the stakeholders to Gordon’s decision as to whether to continue the bribe

payments or not? Please list them with a brief explanation.

3. As the case says, “What should Gordon do?” Do you continue with the bribe payments

(these clearly are bribes)? If so, why; if not, why not? Please indicate which ethical

perspective(s) (i.e., profit maximization, utilitarianism, universalism) support your

decision.

See case below

Getting Medicine to Bosnia: Acceptable Bribery?

As chief legal officer in a well-respected company making lifesaving drugs, Gordon Smith

was asked by his board of directors to look into rumors of bribery with the firm’s Bosnia

contract. The contract, he discovered, had been ordinary in almost every respect: A major

relief organization had contracted with his company to supply a million inexpensive kits of

medicine for delivery into the war-torn regions of Bosnia. Like most such contracts with

charitable organizations, it contained hardly any profit for his firm.

What he found strange, however, was the payment of an extraordinarily large commission

to a Romanian distributor to deliver the kits deep into Bosnia. Seeking out the executive in

his own firm who had negotiated the contract, he had one question in mind: Was this a

bribe?

Yes said the executive, it’s a bribe that we’re paying. According to the Romanian distributor,

the backs of the delivery trucks were loaded with the kits — and the glove compartments

were stuffed with cash. That way, when the drivers were stopped at roadblocks set up by

local militia units operating all across Bosnia, they could pay whatever was demanded and

continue their journey. In the past, he noted, drivers without cash had been taken from

their trucks and shot. If the kits were to be delivered, this was a cost of doing business.

Gordon felt sure that none of the money had flowed back to the executive, whose only

motive was to get the kits delivered. Gordon faced a dilemma. Should he draft a report to

the board on this most unorthodox contract? Or should he keep silent?

Analysis

Everything in Gordon’s background with his company told him that this contract was not the

way to do business. Bribery, he knew, was simply unacceptable to the board, who felt

strongly that once that barrier was breached, there would be no stopping the shakedowns in

the future.

But everything in his makeup as a compassionate being told him that providing medicine for

the wounded was of overriding importance, and that the normal ethic of commerce didn’t

apply in a war zone.

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