In analyzing the ethical dilemma in this case, I take cognizance of the environment in which my organization operates and I understand that the moral standards of behavior differ among individuals. I also recognize that moral problems in business are complex and difficult to resolve. I employed the application of Hosmer’s rule in my analysis of the ethical problems so as to reach an objective decision. The question arising from this case can be viewed and analyzed in two different dimensions. Both dimensions would however reach the same or similar conclusions.
Why do I have to sign a document realizing that some of the fund is going for bribery? One dimension of analyzing this is to assume the whole decision making process is based on my appending the signature on the document – and not subject to further questioning. Another dimension is that even if I append my signature, the project is still subject to further testing and approval. Based on the premise that the road project will not executed if I do not sign the inflated contract document, and choosing not to sign, some groups are going to be hurt or harmed in ways outside their control while others will be benefited or helped.
The right and benefit of residents of Maryland local government area to have their roads constructed will be denied. Even, delay in implementing this project will hurt this group. The construction company, ABC will also be hurt by losing the contract. The Federal Government (representing the larger society) will benefit. If I choose to sign the inflated contract proposal and the project is executed, the residents of Maryland local government will have their rights recognized, the construction company, ABC Engineering and the government officials in charge of approving the payment will benefit.
I and the Board of Trustee of LGMSPA would have committed a wrong. The larger society will be hurt as the Federal Government will be paying more than required for the project, and the right of people to have their tax monies judiciously and effectively utilized will be denied. The integrity of the decision makers – the Board of Trustees of Local Government Millennium Special Project Agency is also at stake. In all, the society loses more as there will be too many wrongs which are capable of creating wrong precedents or extension of societal ills.
On the other hand, the excess fund will be going into private pockets at the expense of tax payers who provided jobs to the government officials in the first place. The meaning of fairness and equity will be lost in its entirety. According to Hosmer, in pragmatic objections to economic theory, the presence of an injurious practice – such as personal payment to influence purchase decisions are evidently common overseas, and not unknown in the United States.
In an efficient market, however, bribes would be futile; they would raise the cost function by an amount equivalent to the payment so that non-bribing competitors would have a definite price advantage. The microeconomic response is obvious: insist that purchase decisions be open and subject to public comparison of the bids, to ensure the selection of the lowest priced proposal to supply comparative goods and services. The lowest-priced proposal would necessarily come from a non bribing competitor.
The concept of ‘pareto optimality’ comes to play here. The Board of Trustees of LGMSPA owes the members of the society ethical duties, obligations to take the best decisions in its best interest, by being appointed to serve. The board must therefore take decisions that are fair to all and just for everyone. Recommending an inflated contract sum will constitute a violation of principle on which a society is built. The principle of fairness and equity cannot be over-emphasized in determining a balanced conclusion here.
Never take any decision or action that is not open, honest and truthful, and one that you would feel proud to see widely reported on the pages of national newspapers and in the evening broadcasts of national news programs. Bribery or aiding and abetting bribery is not certainly in congruent with any healthy moral standard. It will be morally and ethically wrong for the Board of Trustee of LGMSPA to endorse award of the project with 35% cost earmarked for bribery.
None of the members of this board would actually be proud to be associated with this decision openly. Bribery is illegal. Demanding, giving or collecting bribes as a condition for performing a one’s duties is not just morally wrong, ethically incorrect but also illegal. So also is aiding and abetting bribery. The Board of Trustees of Local Government Special Project Agency’s will be committing and illegality it decided to recommend an inflated contract sum, knowing fully well that the ‘Miscellaneous’ is for bribery. So lso is the action of the construction company and the government officials demanding bribe before they can do their statutory duties. The law represents a universal set of rules that are consistent, universal, published, and enforced. The law requires us to act in a given way, not just expectations or suggestions or petitions to act in a way. There is an aura of insistency about the law; it defines what theoretical one must do. Understanding this we also help in making the right decision in an ethical dilemma such as this case.
In this case the position of the law is clear. Therefore, based on the economic outcome, legal requirement based upon impartial social and political processes, and the ethical duties based upon universal moral principle, my decision will be not to sign the paper. I would insist the contract award decision be open and subject to public comparison of the bids. I will also request the board to ensure the best priced proposal is recommended for implementation.