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
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
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?
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
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.