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    Business Firm Approach

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    This assignment requires that we evaluate each of the following approaches that a business firm could use to gather information about competition. Indicate on why these acts were either appropriate or inappropriate. For each approach, mark your feeling about its appropriateness using the following scale:

    1. Definitely not appropriate, 2. Probably not appropriate, 3. Undecided, 4. Probably appropriate, and 5. Definitely appropriate

    The business firm should try to get useful information about competitors by:

    _____ Careful study of trade journals

    _____ Wiretapping the telephones of competitors

    _____ Posing as a potential customer to competitors

    _____ Getting loyal customers to put out a phone "request for proposal" soliciting competitors' bids

    _____ Buying competitors' products and taking them apart

    _____ Hiring management consultants who have worked for competitors

    _____ Rewarding competitors' employees for useful "tips"

    _____ Questioning competitors' customers and/or suppliers

    _____ Buying and analyzing competitors' garbage

    _____ Advertising and interviewing for nonexistent jobs

    _____ Taking public tours of competitors' facilities

    _____ Releasing false information about the company in order to confuse competitors.

    _____ Questioning competitors' technical people at trade shows and conferences

    _____ Hiring key people away from competitors

    _____ Analyzing competitors' labor union contracts

    _____ Having employees date persons who work for competitors

    _____ Studying aerial photographs of competitors' facilities

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    Solution Preview

    The issue here is ethics. What is morally or ethically acceptable? When we speak of ethics, we must speak of rights and wrongs. We're not dealing with relativism at all. A simple way to understand ethics would be to ask yourself the following question. Am I acting toward another as I would wish they act toward me? Am I trying to harm them, or merely learning about them? Think of a race. Am I running a race or trying to trip my opponent? The former is acceptable, the latter is not.

    With this in mind, I'll give a few comments. You can give your own evaluation based on the scale you have been assigned.

    Careful study of trade journals: There is nothing harmful to the competition in this action.

    Wiretapping the telephones of competitors: This would be considered illegal under statutory law, let alone completely immoral and unethical. Would you want your telephones wire tapped?

    Posing as a ...